Radway put a different spin on romance novels for me. Typically I view romance novels as pieces of work that depict stories of relationships that its readers wish could happen to them. I feel like most romance novels are synonymous with fantasy novels due to the fact that I have never witnessed love for anyone to occur with overwhelming romance. After reading Radway’s work, I had many questions, but also formed a few new opinions on how I should actually view the impact of romance novels on its clientele.
The Gill and Radway readings made me really think of how audiences actually consume items such as romance novels and how they use these books as an ‘out’ or a ‘release.’ I actually felt sympathetic for the women that were interviewed in the study in Radway’s piece. It seems like they read these books in order to live vicariously through its characters in order to hope that there still may be hope for them to experience a movie-like romance in their lives. However, they are unattainable. These books have the structure to make women yearn for these experiences. The romantic novels use normal settings, normal people, and true love as its components for its plot, and they concoct a storyline that professes life values that true love is blind and that there is one person out in the world for you to its readers that live in a society where obviously that isn’t always true because the divorce rate is the highest it’s ever been. This sets up its readers for failure! How can one love her own life when they are getting sucked up in books weekly that have relatable characters that are achieving true happiness in every novel? It must be tough. I never thought that there was this kind of potential impact out there in the book world.
Radway makes strong claims in her reading, and Gill’s work is very complimentary to the problems Radway discusses. Audiences consume differently in different areas and demographics. Yes, the effects of romance novels have common effects on its readers; however, they are stronger and weaker in different places. Thus, people are experiencing the issues of romance novels pressuring their own personal lives, but the difference in degree of certain impacts are differing from area to area. This was a very interesting topic to read about, especially for a male college student. I never thought that a certain genre of literature could have such a major impact on a demographic, especially when they are considered ‘hits’ and ‘classics’ by book critics.