Romance and culture through a lens

Last week, I finished reading Love Through a Lens by Lucy Felthouse. Despite not often getting the feels from books like this, I rather enjoyed it. The characters, the setting and the sheer Britishness of it charmed me. It was the sort of story I pictured as a Bridget Jonesy rom com with Colin Firth. And who doesn’t love a bit of ol’ Colin?

I’m sure I’ve read British romances before, but being mindful of cultural diversity at the moment, it’s got me thinking about how to write a story with Australian characters without making it tragically Australian. You know, the “I’m going to beat you over the head with how Aussie I am” thing versus the off-the-cuff, by-the-way, aw yeah nah, it is what it is kind of thing.

I liked that about Evie Bliss’s The S’expert. Aside from the writing style and humour drawing me in, maybe it’s because I hear Aussie turns of phrases every day that I could gel with this. No hurdles, no extra translator switch to flick. Not that it’s a problem normally, as I’m surrounded by American and British English on a daily basis. But removing that extra language layer must certainly make a difference at the cognitive level.

Though I never detail it in the book, You and I is set in Australia. Sydney, to be precise. Leah and Craig live in Redfern. The Airbnb in Part 4 is in Bondi, though I pictured the surrounding area looking more like Manly. In my head, the characters have Aussie accents (Perth middle-class accents, oddly) and use Aussie vernacular — I wonder if that’s why the words just flowed while I was writing.

Some readers and reviewers asked for a more fleshed-out story after reading You and I. At the time, I had just recovered from writing Chasing Sisyphus and facing my fear of too many words. I wanted to play with a minimalist style, so I left out anything that didn’t have to do with sex or Leah’s emotional journey. That included auxiliary Aussie things.

But now I look back and wonder if I should have gone into detail, especially after reading Delane’s review of it on Coffee Time Romance. I wonder, what changes about the way we relate to characters when we understand their cultural context? What assumptions do we make about people from just hearing their accents? And what factors about someone or a situation are simply impossible to pick up yourself without having to be told?

I don’t know if I would have liked Love Through a Lens as much if it had been set in Australia or America or Canada. I wonder, if Lucy Felthouse had omitted the details about the British countryside and culture, would I have been able to fill in the blanks on my own? Should stories in the romance and erotica genres even ask that much of a reader?

These thoughts, on a Thursday afternoon.

 


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3 thoughts on “Romance and culture through a lens

  1. Why shouldnt some culture be added to romance and erotica? The points of reading Erotica and Romance is be to immersed in it. Adding elements like that, to me, makes it more intense. I read an Erotica once that pulled elements from the Renaissance Era. How it was described was overwhleming. It made me see the countrysides. Feel the music. Taste the foods.Anybody can read Erotica and Romance. Get the adrenaline and pheromone rush. Having cultural settings just adds more. Okay I stop now. I can babble on forever about this. Good thoughts for a Thursday, Mr. Peridot

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    1. I’m with you there, Julia. I do love a good bit of history! 🙂 Do you watch historical tv shows too? I’m really loving Spartacus right now. It’s a bit old, but it’s great viewing (though more on the erotic side than romantic).

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      1. Historical events…that is such a wide range fo and for me. Lately I have been looking and reading up on the Spartans. Why? Don’t really know my brain tends to tick that way. I have been looking because I wanted to write a short or maybe not so short montage on the Spartans. And Athenians. Social differences. How the Athenians were possibly the first democratic status. Were the Spartans really opposed to pederasty? .WIth my Puzzle brain adding an Erotic twist. You make me talk and I may seem a bit neurotic but I just have a comple brain dabbed a little in the gutter. LOL I’m done. I love any type of history. Spartacus is awesome by the way.

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