Women’s fiction books relate more from the context of a novel than a fiction sub-genre or type. The genre is mainstream, issues by women and for women, usually. It is a life of its own, down-to-earth issues that women live day-to-day. Romance and historical possibilities are written down or out.
Though the fiction women primarily read often relates to contemporary or historical romance and these genres are born upon the wind of motivational drama through horror, mystery, supernatural, fantasy, science fiction, spiritual or new age. Women’s fiction books are generally contemporary and socially adept at dealing with life as we live it now, love, eh, maybe.
Women’s fiction are books typically written by women and for women…. based on the motivation of women’s issues.
Instead of the listed sub genres as primary, the premise takes on a combination of
- personal drama,
- career drama,
- environmental issues
- or political activism
setting the motivation of the main characters. Then the sub-genres of spiritual, inspirational, new age, and perhaps, perhaps mystery will mold the storyline.
Women’s fiction books is about personal drama, sans the cliche romantic quest
However, personal drama is focus, and that drama for women’s fiction books usually takes them to the homefront with close personal relationships. Friendship and sister relationships, mothers and children, domestic life, marriage, divorce, widowhood, death, recovery, women over a certain age, and self realization.
Through these personal dramas, the women’s fiction genre speaks to women and base the feature characters as female. The characters face professional and domestic issues. Their resolutions to these issues are distinct to their personality and character and beliefs.
Women’s fiction, so to speak, does not equate to formula writing. Women’s fiction may not even end happily ever after. And in women’s fiction, the romantic ties are often with men who would never be deemed a ‘hero’ in romantic fiction.
Why no formula in women’s fiction novels?
The question does come to mind, why is this, that there is not a formula? That the happily ever after is beside the point? And the hero is a non-typical hunk, seemingly with less courage, prowess and intuition than those in romantic novels?
My answer. Women readers have evolved.
Against the backdrop of historic literary novels that would be deemed women’s fiction today, such as the Elizabeth Gaskell and Jane Austen women’s fiction classics and the romantic fiction of the day, both of which a high percentage of women often turn to beginning at the threshold of womanhood, they evolve to a life realization that touches their rhythm with entertainment reading.
Life is not necessarily happily ever after. Relationships can bury a person. People can break people. Some people have little courage, even when they need it. Dreams are often lost. Goals are never set in stone. Some hearts never recover.
Is this pessimism? Reality? A desire for a truly responsive read? Maturity of age?
My definition of women’s fiction……
Perhaps women’s fiction is a reflection of learning to breathe with life. Women’s fiction books tap into their contrary face-to-face with reality and a refusal to see life as a formula because a woman has realized that formula brings expectations which they have learned never to focus on.
I think women’s fiction quite often relates to evolutionary readers of a certain age, those who perhaps spent their young adulthood through their mid-thirties in the quest of the romance and happily ever after genres, then found their speculation of endings had changed, as did their relationships with the writers of women’s fiction.
I believe women’s fiction is evolving even from there because we see the writers of this genre responding to characters who come to them, protagonists who are over forty, over fifty, over sixty and beyond. And how interesting, to consider the life of a seventy-year-old woman who reflects upon her dreams, goals, loves, children and now has a chance to craft a life that she desired most, given all her experiences and lessons to share with the reader.
Consider reading ….
A Breath Floats By
You are welcome to leave comments or email. Suggestions of your favorite women’s fiction novels will be considered for future reviews.
Essa Adams, Author of Women’s Fiction Books List and Blog