What Chick Lit Means To Me
By Holly Martin
I love chick lit books, in fact it’s pretty much the only genre I will read. I will sometimes stray into Young Adult books or fantasy; I love Harry Potter and Twilight. But when buying a new book in a bookshop I will always be drawn to the covers with flowers and bright colours, with glitter and hearts. We all need a bit of sparkle in our lives and chick lit books deliver this in droves.
There is a big difference between a romance and a chick lit book. Romance to me suggests some big serious saga, with weeping widows, windswept moors, and dark brooding men whereas chick lit is all the best bits of romance, with real life heroines and brilliant humour thrown in too. My Mum would read lots of Danielle Steele books when I was younger, and in my mid-teens I started reading them too. I loved the intense romances that were depicted on the pages but when I read my first chick lit there was no going back.
I’m not sure what my first chick lit book was but one of the first was Jill Mansell’s books. She epitomizes the chick lit genre for me, every single one of her books is this gooey, wonderful, heartwarming, funny, light hearted glorious read from the first page to the last. It was reading, no devouring, every single one of her books that made me realise I wanted to write in this genre too.
There are many, many very talented chick lit authors out there, but some of my other favourites are: Belinda Jones, Miranda Dickinson, Sophie Kinsella, Catherine Alliott, Aven Ellis and Tilly Tennant.
In chick lit the women are real and that’s what we relate to. These women have real jobs, they work long, hard hours, they have bills to pay and children whose demands must be met. They have husbands or boyfriends who also work long hours, they have children who don’t sleep or need the latest trainers, they care for their friends and family, they juggle their real life problems with finding their own happy ever after. These are women we know, who are so tangible they almost walk off the page. We’ve all been there and that’s why we like them so much. We fall in love with them, we want these women to be our friend.
The men are gorgeous, strong, look great in a pair of jeans, with arms that strain at the seams of the shirts but are sweet, vulnerable and have issues of their own. We have to fall in love with the men, not think our women should run a million miles away from them.
The humour in chick lit is also important. I’ve read some books that have literally had me laughing out loud, snorting, choking with laughing, tears running down my cheeks, laughing so hard I can barely breathe. I want that in a book, I want to smile, laugh until my face aches. I don’t want to sob uncontrollably in a corner. Life is hard enough, so when I read, I read to escape, I want to dive into a book with all its rose-tinted goodness where everything is right with world.
And that leads me onto the most important aspect of a chick lit book. The Happy Ever After. This is an absolute must. I know life isn’t like that, so many people don’t get a happy ending, their husbands leave them, people get stuck in a job they hate, people lose their loved ones to horrible diseases or terrible accidents. The newspapers are filled with horror stories and I don’t want to read about that in a book. Maybe the heroine loses her job, maybe the house is flooded and the car has been trashed. But our heroine must end up in the arms of the man she loves. And not just for one night or a few weeks, we need to know that this relationship is going to stand the test of time and they will grow old and grey together loving each other more with every day that passes. I want to close a book (or switch off the kindle) with a smile that splits my face, hold the book to my chest and squeeze it because I love the book so much. I want to feel gooey and warm and happy inside. I want to believe that Happy Endings are real and one day I’ll get my own Happy Ever After.
I think probably my favourite chicklit book of all time is Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. I read it years ago but it stayed with me. I laughed so hard reading this book, cannot recommend it enough.
Holly Martin is the bestselling author of The Guestbook. She lives in Bedfordshire in a house with round windows and spends every spare minute of her time writing.