|One pig helps another escape the book: Wiesner's The Three Pigs|
In Magic Strikes, shape-shifter Raphael has been courting a reluctant Andrea for months. Andrea's friend Kate tells him that one way to win Andrea's regard would be to find the novels missing from her collection of the works of Lorna Sterling, an author of romance novels such as The Privateer's Virgin Mistress. Raphael not only tracks down and purchases some of these rare editions of Ms. Sterling's books, but actually reads them, looking for a clue as to why Andrea, despite her obvious attraction to him, continues to rebuff his advances.
|Lorna Stirling's cousin??|
Raphael assumes a one-to-one, direct relationship between the type of romance hero a reader likes and the type of man she'd like to court/date/marry. Kate tries to help Raphael by disabusing him of this overly simplistic view, pointing to the difference between a romance reader's fantasy and reality:
I'm guessing—and this is just a wild stab in the dark—that Andrea might not mind if once in a while you dressed up as a pirate. But I wouldn't advise holding her relatives for ransom nookie. She might shoot you in the head. Several times. With silver bullets. (202)
Romance novels are not always reflections of what readers desire in their day-to-day lives and lovers, Andrews, through Kate, suggests. Instead, they can also function as written versions of inner fantasies. We might consider performing a role described in a fantasy, for a short time, to enhance romantic or sexual pleasure, even if we have no desire to take on such a role permanently in everyday life.
We might even find pleasure in reading about sexual situations we'd never want to experience, even in a role-playing situation. As erotica-writer Molly explains to her friend Lori, the protagonist of Dahl's Start Me Up, when Lori asks if she could ever write a story featuring sexual practices that she's not into:
"I've got a friend.... Delilah Hughes. She writes stories about pretty heavy submission and bondage. Stuff I'm totally not into. But her books are beautifully done, charged with emotion and conflict. Very sexy. I love them. And Ben [her boyfriend] always appreciates it when I read them, if you know what I mean." (44)
Molly's "if you know what I mean" suggests that even though she herself has no desire to experience "heavy submission and bondage," she can still be turned on by stories which explore such sexual situations. Just because our complex, messy minds dream about cruel, ravishing pirates, or stern men (or women) wielding handcuffs, and search for parallels in our reading, doesn't mean that we have any desire to date Captain Blood or Christian Grey.
What other romance novels can you think of that contain provocative discussions of romance as a genre?
David Weisner, The Three Pigs, page 7. From the collection of Jackie Horne.
Book covers courtesy of Goodreads
Captain Blood poster courtesy of Wikipedia.
Next time: RNFF recommends Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander