Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

loreta

The Living Force
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That's why I have been going back to Jane Austen's work again and again, but I am glad that Laura and others have given me more options to choose from! We certainly need some food for the soul.
I agree, to discover new horizons in the realm of novels is always an adventure!

I love Jane Austen. The relation man-woman is very interesting in her novels, and the sexual attraction also, the desire, all that in a society very strict where the body and the touch was tabou but eh! imagination was very present. The things we don't say or not show but we feel very strongly.... Virginia Woolf wrote some good articles about Jane Austen putting focus on her courage and valiant attitude.
 

manitoban

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I've always been a fan of historical fiction, particularly the medieval period, and it's noticeable how different the values people held were. The stories generally have much more emphasis on being honourable, the family and community and much less focused on self. I am really looking forward to getting into some of these great recommended books. Thank you Laura!
 

ramaj

Jedi
FOTCM Member
Well, I finally provoked Ark into reading one and he can hardly put it down. For awhile, he just asked me about the plots and I would tell him the story. He liked that. Then, I would read some entertaining passages to him (usually funny/risque) and he would laugh. Then, I told him the plot of one particular book and since he was looking for something to read before sleeping, I gave it to him and suggested he try it.

The kids were teasing him about it today and asked him if the younger guys should read it and he said "naw, young guys don't like reading about real men and this guy in the story is a REAL MAN."

LOL!
Which book was Ark reading about a real man? You have my full interest and curiosity Laura! Lol I want to read this book.
 

Laura

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Inquiring minds want to know which one Ark's reading. Just out of pure academic curiosity of course! ;-D


Yes, do you mind sharing which one this is?

Asking for a friend. :whistle:

Which book was Ark reading about a real man? You have my full interest and curiosity Laura! Lol I want to read this book.

Well, inquiring minds want to know, though it really is about the cheesiest title ever dreamed up and in almost no way really reflects the story (or only a small part of it), the book is: "Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed" {{{Shudder}}} and is by Anna Campbell. It is book one of a four volume set. The other three volumes are, in order: "A Rake's Midnight Kiss", "What a Duke Dares", and "A Scoundrel by Moonlight." There's a really fiendish villain who lurks through these volumes and some very interesting adventures along with the romance. This set is medium-high heat level, but the sex is not gratuitous; it is actually crucial to the plots.

I can appreciate what Neil wrote about young, single men and the burden that reading such literature might place on them. For them, the works of Mary Balogh might be better as the heat is much lower, but there is still enough "instructional" material to help them to visualize what a good relationship would be like.

One of you noted that these books are written by women. Yup, that's a fact. And a good thing, too. How better to learn how to relate to a woman (assuming that is what one wishes to do?) than to read the combined/condensed/almost formulaic descriptions of ideal relations (including sexual) from a woman's point of view? I've read a number of novels by men that included sex scenes to know that nearly all of them I ever read, had very little to do with love, monogamous relationships, family, children, and frankly, left me cold and revolted.

One of you mentioned reading novels about love and relationships in a modern setting that also talk about various problems we face in the modern world such as affairs with married men, children out of wedlock, or whatever. I don't think that is exactly what I had in mind when suggesting the reading of CERTAIN books in an effort to generate the emotions that might help to create a conduit of transformative energy. These books I'm talking about are highly idealized in terms of VALUES, though the issues the people deal with are, in many ways, similar to the issues of our own time. It is the idealized values and responses to the demands of same that interests me. It's a higher standard, emotionally speaking, than what one can derive from modern psychological dramas.

Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel. Pride and Prejudice is a close second. I love the character development in all Austen novels and how, indeed, the protagonists get over themselves for the other's sake, making their well-being and happiness a priority, while always acting in a dutiful and honourable way.

This is it in a nutshell. All of these books that I'm concerned with do exactly that: people getting over themselves for the sake of others. And they do so in spite of just agonizing internal considering!!! The four books mentioned above are exactly that.
 

MK Scarlett

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Jane Austen is definitely a very good author to read, I've almost read them all and my favorite is Pride and Prejudice, the second one Sense and Sensibility. I also have read a long time ago The Mists of Avalon series. What I did especially like in the latter was the fact that the famous Arthurian legends was seen from the perspective of the women characters, especially Morgaine who was fighting to save her Celtic religion from the threats of Christianity.

I was thinking of another very good author, unfortunately only some of her novels has been translated in English, German or Spanish for what I know: Catherine Hermary-Vieille. For those who read French and love historical novels, I highly recommend Le Crépuscule des rois trilogy.

In this trilogy, Catherine Hermary-Vieille write about the main human traits such as heroism, cowardice, voluptuous or passionate love affairs evolving between shadow and light, redemption and damnation. She does it with a great talent, kind of like a biography (historical background) spiced up with sensuality. The trilogy is situate between the end of the Middle Ages and the dawn of the Renaissance. Between England, France and Flanders, kings, queens, great lords and adventurers are tearing each other apart for power. A dark and mystical era, sumptuous and violent, haunted by unusual characters, beautiful and ambitious women, such as Marguerite d'Anjou, daughter of King René, and Elizabeth of York, children with a dramatic destiny, such as the two sons of King Edward IV, stifled in the Tower of London by order of their uncle, the highly controversial Richard III. The tragic death of the ultimate descendant of York brought an end to the bloody War of the Two Roses, which from 1455 to 1485 pitted the enemy cousins, Lancaster and York, against each other.

Another author I would recommend in the same way (a man, yes, I think he is doted with a very good sense of femininity and he seems takes on that feminine part of himself) is Gilbert Sinoué. Some of his French books have been translated in Spanish, Italian, even some in German, and also in English, as the second one below. I especially loved and read several times one of his famous novel, Avicenne ou La route d'Ispahan, relating the life of Avicenna, the Persian doctor, philosopher and scientist who struggles between his innate need to care for others and the big love of his life. My second favorite book is The Book of Sapphire which has been translated in English. It's a theological/thriller/history novel that I also read several times, Time travel guaranteed! The story is about three men, a muslim, a christian and a jew, all of them esoteric scholars who got involved together in search for the secret of all secrets, The Book of Sapphire, which would be the living proof of the existence of god, all this happening in the Inquisition time in Spain. Fascinating to read especially about the interaction of the characters and what makes a good relationship between them, including with the main female character (given the three men are religious), it's very well written (I don't know the English translation quality) as well as his other books.

To finish, I would like to talk a bit about The House of the Spirits written by Isabel Allende. The story deals with the absoluteness of love, familiarity and death, all within several generations in a family saga that builds and deconstructs relationships between the master of the estate and members of his family, the servants of the house and the peasants who work in the fields, and whose story fits in with that one of Chile as State.

I love sagas: It gives an idea of what a future can become based on what has happened in the past. That's why I love Darkover as the story runs on more than 2,000 years... recounting unconditional love relationships that have to deal with the prejudices of others and society while struggling to maintain their values, which are not always in line with the dominant culture in which they live.

Thank you Laura for The Sons of Sin series, I added them in my Edition wish-list on Amazon.
 

MK Scarlett

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I couldn't edit the previous post as time was up. So here it is:
I love sagas: It gives an idea of what a future can become based on what has happened in the past. That's why I love Darkover as the story runs on more than 2,000 years... recounting unconditional love relationships that have to deal with the prejudices of others and society while struggling to maintain their values, which are not always in line with the dominant culture in which they live.
I wanted to add that the same goes for Outlander, which I have confused with Highlander shared by duyunne in my first post.

So, the following is about Outlander:
I've read them all and can't wait to read the next one (Tome 9) which is not yet published. The author, Diana Gabaldon, explains that she needs three years for each Tome, and writes at the end of Part II of Volume 8, that she has accumulated a number of reference material necessary for writing the saga, which, in the twenty years since she began writing them, exceed 1,500.
The main male character, Jamie, is a kind of "warrior", maybe in the very sense Castaneda put it: impeccability, no matter the circumstances. That's how I see him anyway. While the TV show is pretty well done, I much prefer books that go much further into the details of the interactions between the different characters in the saga, and stories in the great History.

It is a complex intrigue, containing suspense (sometimes unbearable), meticulous and historically and geographically coherent details, a damsel in distress, a knight in shining armor, war, love, and high moral values for which the characters sometimes risk their lives in order to remain faithful to it. It is also a historical depiction about Scotland fighting against England to maintain its Celtic values and culture, about that of the newly emerging United States and the vagaries of time travel for some of the characters, especially with the central female character, Claire (who will become Jamie's wife) a 20th century doctor catapulted via Stones of craigh na dun (kind of Celtic reference) to the 18th century via and who, in her desire to heal others with her knowledge from the future, must not appear to be a witch.
 

aragorn

The Living Force
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I couldn't edit the previous post as time was up. So here it is:

I wanted to add that the same goes for Outlander, which I have confused with Highlander shared by duyunne in my first post.

So, the following is about Outlander:


It is a complex intrigue, containing suspense (sometimes unbearable), meticulous and historically and geographically coherent details, a damsel in distress, a knight in shining armor, war, love, and high moral values for which the characters sometimes risk their lives in order to remain faithful to it. It is also a historical depiction about Scotland fighting against England to maintain its Celtic values and culture, about that of the newly emerging United States and the vagaries of time travel for some of the characters, especially with the central female character, Claire (who will become Jamie's wife) a 20th century doctor catapulted via Stones of craigh na dun (kind of Celtic reference) to the 18th century via and who, in her desire to heal others with her knowledge from the future, must not appear to be a witch.

Is this the one?

I don’t think I’ve read a fiction book since I joined the forum in 2008. However, lately I’ve been sensing a desire to experience that feeling of immersing in a good story, that you just don’t get with a non-fiction book, with very rare exceptions.

I think the corona madness might play a role here. Things are so crazy out there right now, that I feel that I need a break from the non-fiction literature (at work this isn’t possible, since I’ve just started my one year long research leave).

I think that the books with the most cheesy titles mentioned here would be too much for me to start with;-D, but this Outlander series sounds like something I might enjoy, thnx!
 

Mari

Jedi Council Member
Thank you Laura for this analysis and explanation! :flowers:

I wasn´t interested very much into romance books, but as I had a membership in our city library, I alwasy picked a book for me and one for my good-mother - she was into this romance novels and stuff. And since I was the one that had to return the books, after I´ve red my book, I´ve always also read whatever I took for her. ...and it was always the same story in different package....

But :-)

I´ve realy enjoyed to read books from one Croatian author Marija Jurić Zagorka Marija Jurić Zagorka - Wikipedia
It´s a shame that there are real gems coming from small countries which language no one else speaks and those books are never translated to English.
In her works, she is "reflecting on numerous old Zagrebian legends and fairy tales, presenting elements of the supernatural and religious miracles. " She is also depicting the world of particular time trough her heroines and their encounters with the rest of the world.

I.e. from Wiki link above:
None of her novels have been translated into English, but two are available in German: The Witch of Gric (1995) and Malleus Maleficarum (1972).

  • Grička vještica (The Witch of Grič)- cycle of 7 novels (Secret of the Bloody Bridge, Countess Nera, Malleus Maleficarum, The Rival of Maria Theresa I, The Rival of Maria Theresa II, The Courtly Camarilla, Rebel on the Throne) - Zagorka's most popular work, combining genres of a historical novel, romance and adventure. Set in the second half of the 18th century, it tells the story of a beautiful young Countess Nera Keglević, who was raised isolated from society by her grandmother. Famed for her beauty and open-minded conduct, she becomes the jewel of Zagrebian aristocracy, but her popularity among men causes strong discountenance among envious women who see her as a threat. Due to Nera's attempts of saving unfortunate low class women from witch-burnings, she herself gets accused of witchcraft, which opens a protest of the aristocracy against the law for condemning a member of their society.
 

MK Scarlett

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Is this the one?


Yes it is. If you are about reading these books, I wish you a journey as good as was mine by reading them. 😉
 

Keit

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Those types of books are almost written exclusively by women, and I don't know either if that would appeal to male readers.
One of you noted that these books are written by women. Yup, that's a fact. And a good thing, too. How better to learn how to relate to a woman (assuming that is what one wishes to do?) than to read the combined/condensed/almost formulaic descriptions of ideal relations (including sexual) from a woman's point of view?

Well, then I have a book written by a male for you. :-)

"Thais of Athens" by Ivan Efremov.

Ivan Efremov was one of the most recognized and loved Soviet authors. He was also a paleontologist, and wrote more than 100 scientific papers. Apparently even Western scientists recognize him as "the father of modern paleontology who merged geological and palaeontological data into a single science."

Some of his books (social science fiction) were made into movies, and "Thais of Athens" was his last novel. He was married three times. The first marriage was short lived, and after his second wife died he remarried, and dedicated the novel to his third wife.

The short description of the book:

The narration was placed in the times of Alexander the Great. Its multiple topics included little-known female cults, questions of women inner worlds, their roles in global history; he raised questions of religion, cultural genesis, search for beauty and truth.

There is also this description:

Thais of Athens (Russian: Таис Афинская) is a historical novel by Ivan Efremov written in 1972. It tells the story of the famous hetaera Thaïs, who was one of Alexander the Great's contemporaries and companions on his conquest of the oikoumene or the known world. The book combines the life of the historical and a fictional Tais.

It follows such actual events as the burning of Persepolis by Tais and her becoming Ptolemy's Egyptian queen, but also speculates on a love affair with Alexander and Tais's initiation in some of the obscure religions of the ancient world. In the novel, the very young (only 17 years old) and already famous Athenian hetaera Tais meets the exiled heir to the Macedonian throne and his childhood friends Hephaestion, Nearchus and Ptolemy. She then travels to Sparta and Crete with the Macedonians, visits Egypt and Mesopotamia, where she becomes an initiate in the temple of Ashtoreth (Astarte) and eventually follows Alexander to Persepolis, which she requests be set on fire. After Alexander's death, Tais marries Ptolemy and becomes the queen of Memphis.

Her travels are an interesting and entertaining look into the lives and customs of people in Hellenistic times, as well as an excellent source of basic information on the geography and history of the age and Alexander the Great.

The book was translated into English, and you can read the reviews here.

I read this book awhile ago, when I was a teenager, and it was quite a revelation and experience for me. His detailed descriptions of the period actually got me interested in history and archeology. But also his depiction of Thais and other women.

There are no steamy scenes in the book, but there are a lot of detailed and erotic descriptions of women, their bodies, their movements, etc., as if being a loving caressing.

Some of the reviews say that Thais is being depicted in a too idealized way. That she is beautiful, witty, strong, independent, and yet knows her weaknesses, or knows what men expect, and knows how to be a woman to a strong man without losing her own power.

Well, personally I think that it is expected. ;-) After all, it is a fiction, even if a historical one. My personal take is that Efremov was trying to depict Thais as a woman who will grow and become a wholesome individual in her own right, but also be a Muse, an inspiration to the men around her.

Thais is a real historical figure, and apparently she was witty and smart. Apparently in Ancient Greece, hetairas were highly educated in various areas.

All in all, I would recommend it, but also thought about rereading it in order to see what my impressions would be now. It isn't a "romance novel" per se, so there are probably no similar depictions of fully formed relationships, but it could be still an interesting example of man's description of a woman.
 
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Color

Jedi Council Member
My favorite books were written by Trygve Gulbranssen since I first read them in my early twenties and then re-read many times after. His trilogy (Beyond Sing the Woods, The Wind from the Mountains & No Way Around) about a family, followed through several generations, in a tough mountain life of Norway is beyond beautiful. Guys might like it a lot and there are no explicit sex scenes to drive them too excited.

Trygve Emanuel Gulbranssen (15 June 1894 – 10 October 1962) was a Norwegian novelist, businessman and journalist. His books were well received by critics and readers alike, and they have been translated into over 30 languages and sold more than 12 million copies. At one point prior to the outbreak of World War II, the popularity of the Trilogy made Gulbranssen the fourth-bestselling author worldwide, and the success of the American editions of his work secured for him the distinction of being the only Scandinavian author of fiction to be included in the prestigious List of Books Chosen for the White House – a collection of works of literature selected by U.S. publishers and presented to the White House in order to provide the president with a library of the very best in contemporary literature. His novels were later adapted for film, though he was disappointed with the results.

Here's one review which reflects mine:

I cannot praise this novel highly enough. The characters are rich and deep despite the novel being devoid of the intense psychological introversion found often in novels, nowadays. This reflects Gulbranssen's genius; he is able to perfectly craft a character using very, very few words. Every character is known intimately through Gulbranssen's terse, poetic language, and every paragraph contains an entire world descriptive of the time, season, social atmosphere, and natural world surrounding the paragraph.

Moreover, the novel is didactic, and thus a great read for children. It illustrates powerful realities and how both noble and ignoble humans think and act through these realities.

I will be reading this novel to my children. I want them to love it as dearly as I do. This is my holy book, illustrative of everything I need in life to become more human.

Many thanks to Gulbranssen and the Norwegian landscape for bringing us such inspiration!
 

Chu

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From Laura's books, so far I've only read My Darling Duke (Stacey Reid - described by Laura in her first post), The unexpected wife (Emily Hendrickson), and currently reading Marry in Haste (Anne Gracie, a series of 4 books).

There is definitely a certain pattern in those. Usually marriages that aren't achieved in the standard way, or even fake marriages. THEN, love grows. From two people with issues, but noble intentions towards each other, trying to do what is best for the other in spite of their own fears, programs, etc. There is a certain practical aspect to the wedding, and then, they learn to become friends, to protect each other, etc. They may misjudge each other in the beginning, but they are curious, strong-willed, they learn to communicate, to be real friends, to understand each other, etc.

Of those three, I enjoyed The unexpected wife very much (a very sweet story!), and now more so Marry in Haste.

In My Darling Duke, the plot idea was very creative, but I thought the author was kind of a bad writer, and didn't develop the characters enough. The sex was a necessary part of the story, but it left one having to fill in the blanks a bit, not to be left thinking that what both people cared the most about was that. There were enough clues to say that it WAS love, but I found it lacking in that respect. So yes, one has to weed a bit!

Overall, I enjoy them very much when I need a break (light reading before sleep), and I like how the characters are strong. Each of them different in the type of life lessons they encounter, and the way they have turned coping mechanisms into strengths. Some are really nice examples to follow, and good "real life" (albeit idealized/romanticized) portrayals of different personality types and lessons that we have read about in all our psychology books, and even things many of us can relate to. The times are different, but human feelings and struggles can be applied to today's world still, or what remains of it. With a bit of extrapolation, it also applies to all kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones. And distilling them to basic human interactions, they aren't so farfetched or "impossible" to achieve, just good values to be applied. OSIT.

I also read The Quiet Gentleman (Georgette Heyer), but that one I'd put on a different category. It's really a lovely mystery, with a bit of love throughout. Very well-written, and the main character is quite a gentleman.

I'll keep plugging along as time allows. :scooter: For now, I can definitely say that I'd much rather read these books than watch modern day movies, where "character development" and nice values are pretty much non-existent.
 

Mike

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Well, inquiring minds want to know, though it really is about the cheesiest title ever dreamed up and in almost no way really reflects the story (or only a small part of it), the book is: "Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed" {{{Shudder}}} and is by Anna Campbell.

Last night I was looking at the various authors mentioned and books and that happened to be the one I settled on and ordered. I'm going to give this type of book a try given the guidance provided, but was like I can't believe I'm ordering this LOL. :lol:

I've been slowly reading when I have time the book 'Angel's in My Hair'. It isn't in the category of books mentioned, it is about a woman's life who supposedly sees angels, etc, but for the first two thirds of the way through the book thus far I keep coming back to a longing type feeling and thoughts for the type of life the author had and was describing. She was born in Ireland in 1953 and thus far has lived there her entire life and it is into the 1970's at the point where I'm at.

I think the longing has to do with the details making me see the life and the people in the story that is described as being genuine, simpler than current times with less distractions and junk materialist progressive culture, a culture that for the most part seems healthy, wholesome in terms of the people and the families and activities described (even if nothing is ever perfect), the world isn't crazy and obviously heading toward turmoil like it is now (though there is a bombing described in the book) and a connection to religious and spiritual matters as major part of life for the people in the book.

It has had me thinking that that is more of the life and reality I'd much rather be in.
 

herondancer

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There is definitely a certain pattern in those. Usually marriages that aren't achieved in the standard way, or even fake marriages. THEN, love grows. From two people with issues, but noble intentions towards each other, trying to do what is best for the other in spite of their own fears, programs, etc. There is a certain practical aspect to the wedding, and then, they learn to become friends, to protect each other, etc. They may misjudge each other in the beginning, but they are curious, strong-willed, they learn to communicate, to be real friends, to understand each other, etc.

For sure. I read a lot of Georgette Heyer in high school after rereading all of Austen's books at least three times each. I think A Civil Contract had a lot to do with forming my ideas about how a relationship might go. It relied less on passion and more on people recognizing their realities and making the most caring choices they could.

Funny, I've been wary of going back to this kind of fiction, and suspicious about my weakness for rom-coms (who wouldn't love Almost Heaven? 😇 ), but it worried me that I would start longing for something that probably wasn't ever going to happen. That's a distraction I really don't need. But looking at those stories as a template for what could be is a great idea.
 
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