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The Happy Ending

I  participated in a symposium on Genre Fiction at Melbourne University last week. It was a fascinating day and I enjoyed myself immensely. I was on two panels and took part in a debate — “In the battle of the genres, romance will always win.” It was lovely, lighthearted fun.

One thing that surprised me though, was that some of the other participants confused “romantic books” (in which one or both the lovers end up dead) with “romance novels” (in which the lovers end up alive, together, and happy.)

It was as if they weren’t comfortable with the notion of “a happy ending” — which is part of the definition of genre romance. 

It’s an attitude I’ve often experienced elsewhere in the literary world, that books with a happy ending are somehow a cop-out, or unrealistic, or even flat out unbelievable — that tragic endings make for a more “real” experience.