Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit Author

Does Love Matter in Chick Lit?

on April 4, 2014

This was written as a guest post for Chick Lit Club Connect

When a heroine doesn’t find love, is it still chick lit?

Someone posted an interesting question on Twitter: can a book be considered chick lit if the heroine doesn’t find love at the end?  My gut feeling was yes, but it got me thinking.

Lots of people have tried to define chick lit.  I believe the key things that make a book chick lit are:

  • The main character in the book is a woman.
  • The point of view in most of the book is a woman’s (although you can write as a male character in parts).
  • The book is about the whole life of the main character, not only one aspect.
  • A light-hearted, humourous approach.  It doesn’t have to be laugh-out-loud funny, but it should make you smile and leave you feeling good.
  • A happy ending.

I don’t think this definition requires a romantic relationship.  The happy ending could be the main character achieving a major goal, repairing or building relationships with friends or family, ending a poor relationship, or just learning to be happy in herself.  The trouble was, I couldn’t think of any chick lit books that actually took this approach.

There are definitely chick lit books out there where the “getting the guy” part of the ending is massively overshadowed by the other changes in the heroine’s life.  A great example of this, which I read recently, is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes.  The main character, Rachel (strangely enough), is dealing with her drug addiction.  I’ve heard some bad things about finding a man in New York, but I’m pretty sure it’s not as tough as that.

But what about books where there is no romantic relationship at all, or where the heroine dates but ends up single?  I asked for examples on Goodreads and got a few suggestions:

  • The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond
  • Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
  • Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

However, I don’t believe these are chick lit.  I haven’t read the full novels, but from the descriptions these stories are too dark to fall under the chick lit genre.  Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner was also suggested and came the closest, although I still don’t think it fits.  The best suggestion I had was actually a film: My Best Friend’s Wedding.  Now that is definitely a chick flick.

So I turned to Google, and I may have come up with one possibility.  Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple is about a mother who goes missing and her daughter’s search for her.  Not obvious chick lit fare, but the reviews are quite definite that this is a comedy.  Then again, it was nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and how often does that happen to chick lit novels?

So I’m drawing a blank.  Can anyone suggest a novel that meets the criteria above, but doesn’t include a love story?  Because, if there aren’t any, I may have to write one.  Or do you think I’m wrong, and a chick lit novel must include finding love?

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