My TBR (to be read) pile is growing – it has expanded to a second shelf in the bookcase – that’s a bit strange for someone who buys most of her books as e-books.
The reason for the explosion is conference – in the past few weeks, I have been to the RNA conference in in the UK and the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in the US – and one of the fab things about both is that people give away books… lots of them.
I was restricted returning from the US – the airlines get a bit funny when you want to bring on half a tonne of books as carry-on baggage… and they wanted me to pay to put them in the hold.
Despite the book-unfriendly nature of international air travel I did manage to squirrel a book or two or three in my bag, and there was room for one or two wafer-thin tomes in webmaster John’s bag too.
Reading those recent acquisitions – or at least the first round of them, I was struck again by the difference between US and UK romance novels.
The romance in US novels tend to be much more direct – an instant physical attraction… the getting to know each other comes later. By contrast, while UK books can and do have strong physical elements in their romances, most tend to be slower developing.
I read one cowboy romance – I am a sucker for a man in boots and a big hat – in which our heroine was serving beer in a bar. A handsome stranger walked in, grabbed her, snogged the living daylights out of her then asked her to make a drink for his girlfriend, who was waiting for him. The barmaid fell in love instantly with this man. Me – I would have slapped his face – or kicked him in the jewels – or possibly both. While I love a strong, forward hero – what he did was pretty rude and not, to my mind, the actions of a hero.
By contrast, English romances tend to develop much more slowly – to the point where sometimes I think … for goodness sake, just kiss her and stop mucking around! But it wasn’t always this way – in Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy is slow to move and restrained in his actions. Yet some of Shakespeare’s work is passionate in the extreme… to say nothing of Wuthering Heights. While not a romance in my view, Wuthering heights is a dark passionate and strongly emotional novel.
I have to wonder if this difference in the style of books is a reflection of the difference in character between two people separated, as some would have it, by a common language.
Having said all this – I must also say there are fine books to be had both sides of the pond – writers whose work I love and come back to again and again… because whatever the style, good storytelling is what it is all about.
Of course – another section of my overflowing TRB pile contains some Australian authors I picked up on my last visit Down Under. I need to start reading them. I don’t remember Australian authors being so very different – but maybe when I revisit some old favourites, I might think differently this time.