Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit Author

This Is Not Chick Lit

on February 8, 2014

Marian Keyes is considered a chick lit writer, but I don’t think that’s right.  I’ve been reading Rachel’s Holiday and it’s not my idea of chick lit.  It is witty and not deeply gritty, but it’s not the light-hearted easy-reading I associate with the term.  The heroine, Rachel, isn’t addicted to chocolate and shoes; with her it’s cocaine and valium.  The book is about her being packed off to rehab by her family, after nearly dying of an overdose.  Hardly what you’d describe as ‘fluffy’.

I 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 fiction written by a woman.  You see books by Jodi Picoult in ‘chick lit bestseller’ lists.  They don’t belong there.  I had to ban myself from reading them because they got me too upset.  Chick lit doesn’t do that.

Chick lit should make you smile more than it makes you frown and should leave you feeling happy and positive about life, because that’s the whole point of its existence.  I tweeted once that chick lit is like Rescue Remedy – it comforts and reassures.  It’s a hug, a fluffy pillow, a fleecy jumper, a hot bubble bath – just in book form.

That said, Rachel’s Holiday is a terrific book.  Keyes used her own experience as an alcoholic and it provides a fascinating insight into the mind of an addict.  And it manages to keep a positive tone while dealing with a serious subject.  Which is why I read it – it was research for my current project, which is about the experience of having a premature baby.  I very much recommend it (the book that is, not the premature birth!).  I do find Keyes a little long-winded at times, but it’s an interesting and educational read.

Of hers, I’ve only read that, Watermelon (which is much more chick lit like) and Under the Duvet.  What are her other books like?  Do you think she deserves her billing as a chick lit writer?


4 responses to “This Is Not Chick Lit

  1. vscot848 says:

    I’ve read Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married and loved it. It has some dark themes in it, but ultimately left me happy and glowing with the romantic ending. I agree with you, though. Many of her books do not fit the genre of chick this. This Charming Man had many dark undercurrents which took me by surprise. Great book, but not how I think of chick lit.

  2. I’ve read Watermelon and that’s basically chick lit. But the label just gets slapped on all of them, whether it’s suitable or not. Who knew a writer could write more than one type of novel.

  3. Becky Monson says:

    The Other Side of the Story was definitely more of a chick lit-y book than others that I have read by her. It’s one of my favs, actually. Some dark themes, but lots more happy feelings over all.

  4. Maybe we should compile a spectrum for her books, from most chick lit to least.

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