On TV, people’s lives are non-stop dramas of glamour, sex and instant celebrity – and that’s just the reality shows! Fictional TV characters aim for the stars when it comes to success in careers, friendships and love – nothing less than the miraculous will do. People quit great jobs, abandon loving boyfriends, walk away from situations that any of us could only dream about – because they’re holding out for more. Good isn’t good enough. Everything has to be perfect.
|Lizzie, your life sucks. No, really.|
Of course, real life isn’t like Austen. Real people settle. This ain’t Pride and Prejudice. It’s more like ‘Game of Thrones’, where crappy things happen to you no matter how much you don’t deserve it. Mum told Robb Stark not to abandon his duty and marry for love, or it’d only end in tragedy. Guess what, Robb? Shoulda listened to Mum.
|Mum told you so, Robb...|
Still. You can’t argue with popularity. There’s something about holding out for a hero that captures our imagination. We secretly admire these bull-headed characters who will risk everything for a chance at perfect happiness. We ask ourselves: would we do the same? What would we sacrifice for happiness? How much is enough?
I think most romance readers know the difference between real life and a book. Unrealistic expectations aren’t an issue, because they’re reading for escape and fantasy. If there was actually any danger that the heroine would have to settle? Readers would put the book down.
Because, unlike in real life, when you're curled up with a romance book, emotional fulfilment and eternal happiness are cheap. In romance, we all get to marry Mr Darcy, at least for a little while. And apart from a couple of bucks for a book? We didn’t have to buy anything.
And that's worth celebrating.