Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit Author

What Is Chick Lit?

on October 29, 2013

There seems to be a lot of disagreement about what ‘Chick Lit’ means.  Here’s my take on where it fits in:

Chick Lit and Women Writers
Some people believe that chick lit covers everything written by women, which is ridiculous.  The range of work by women authors is, amazingly enough, just as broad as that by male ones. 

Chick Lit and Male Writers
Chick lit doesn’t have to be written by women.  Mostly it is, but there are a few male authors too (e.g. Nicholas Sparks, Nic Tatano and Chris Dyer).  And now of course we have lad lit (also called dude lit, dick lit, etc.) which is the same style but aimed at men.

Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction

I view chick lit as a sub-genre of women’s fiction, which I take as all fiction aimed specifically at women by dealing with issues of modern womenhood.  What marks chick lit out is that it is funny.  The degree varies from laugh out loud to quiet smiling, but there is always a significant element of humour.

That doesn’t mean that chick lit is all about sex and shoes and never deals with anything serious.  Some is like this, certainly, but not all.  A good example of one that deals with meatier issues would be Marian Keyes’ Rachel’s Holiday, which is about drug addiction.  The key to making it chick lit is that the book looks for the humour in all situations.  If it could be described as ‘gritty’, it’s not chick lit.

Chick Lit and Romance
Chick lit usually includes a romantic relationship, but unlike in romance the relationship is not the focus of the book.  The heroine(s)’ relationships with friends and family are given similar amounts of time.

Generally, chick lit is less likely to contain sex scenes than romance.  Some have none at all, but there’s a lot of variation.

Some chick lit could reasonably be described as romantic comedy, like my own The Dr Pepper Prophecies.

Chick Lit and Contemporary Fiction
When I think of chick lit, I usually think of modern settings, but apparently historical novels can also fall into this category.  My feeling on this is that a novel that dealt with issues of womenhood that were relevant when it was written could be called chick lit.  For this reason, some argue that Jane Austen’s novels are chick lit.  I would class them as romances, but there is always a crossover patch between genres.

What Do You Think?
Agree or disagree?  Leave a comment and let me know.

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8 responses to “What Is Chick Lit?

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing the link to your post over on my blog. Great post! I really wish bookstores, etc. would use the term “Chick Lit” when categorizing books so everyone would be on the same page.

  2. I think they’re worried that some people will find it offensive. But whether or not it started off that way, the term has firmly stuck.

  3. […] wrote a little while ago about what chick lit is (and isn’t).  There’s mass misuse of the term, sometimes applying it to any […]

  4. Inessa says:

    Hi, Jennifer. Good idea explain what it is Chick lit and promote this dialogue.
    I know that people argue if Jane Austen’s books is chick lit or not. In my opinion, I consider them Chick Lit with a bit of romance, because sometimes I can see funny situations and the author reveals different points of view of a era, exposing serious problems of a society.
    See you!

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