The Spreading Branches of Romance

Northanger

“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Last month, I posted about the varieties of Regency romances I’d been discovering,  and in the process gave a thumbnail history of the romance novel since the seventies—from my perception.

Well, that kicked off an exchange with some fellow readers, two of whom claimed never to have read a romance. But when I mentioned titles they’d read and loved and pointed to online reviews that made it clear some readers filed these squarely under romance—and loved them for it— they began to get the idea that ‘romance’ had begun broadening out to more or less match the old dictionary definition of romance.