That means, not surprisingly, that I want my chick lit to be both romantic and funny, and the stronger it is in each of those elements, the better I like it. I want a hero I can fall in love with, and a heroine I can relate to, who I’d want as my friend. If it’s sexy too, that’s a big bonus. And a happy ending, of course, is a must.
As we all know, these books come in for a lot of criticism for being frivolous and superficial. But I think it’s a pity that so often the knee-jerk response from defenders of the genre is to point out that some chick lit books deal with serious issues, such as domestic violence, divorce or addiction – as if it needs that justification. It buys into the idea that women’s fiction must be instructive in some way, which I find so condescending.
I mean, we’re all grown-ups here – maybe we just want a few laughs. So what if a story is ‘just’ about Mr and Ms Right finding each other? There’s nothing wrong with reading something just for fun.
I read for enjoyment, whether it’s classics, literary fiction, crime or chick lit, and I’m unapologetic about the fact that the chick lit I most like to read is pure entertainment. However, it’s not mindless entertainment. At its best, it’s smart and witty, it has its finger on the pulse, and it’s full of acute social observation and sharp commentary on contemporary social and sexual mores.
It can comfort and cheer. It’s warm and friendly, like a hug in a book. It’s pure, unadulterated reading pleasure – as luxurious and indulgent as a box of chocolates; as fun and frothy as a glass of champagne.
Chocolate and champagne may not be very nutritious, but when it comes to making you feel good, they’re hard to beat. The same goes for top class chick lit.