Give #chicklit a break

Like a lot of women I from time to time enjoy the escapism offered from chick lit.  Quite often the phrase chick lit is used negatively, people dismiss the books as trashy and the author is somehow considered lacking in credibility regardless of the quality of their writing or how many books they’ve sold.  I also know from reading interviews a number of female authors classified as chick lit authors resent the term, I believe Freya North prefers contemporary fiction.  I can see where she is coming from, in no other scenario would I call myself a chick but I think her writing is part of a very specific genre that contemporary fiction is too general for.  Maybe there’s a twitter competition there for publishing houses to find a new catch all genre title.
Whatever you want to call it, like any other genre there is a scale of quality. 
I have quite a large collection of books that would be classified as chick lit and despite it being years since I turned their pages I can’t quite bring myself to give them away.  As such they’ve travelled from city to city house to house with me.  Authors featured in my collection include Jane Green, Freya North, Cecelia Ahern, Wendy Holden, Catherine Alliot, Katie Fforde and let us not forget Candace Bushnell who brought us our lovely friends Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.
But what is it about these books that makes them so popular?
  • These are novels by women, about women, written for women.  The issues dealt with are relevant, they may not be an accurate reflection of my life but they strike a chord.
  • They are beautifully written.  I’m not saying every chick lit is, there are badly written ones but then that’s the same across the board.  Good chick lit authors, actually scrap that, great chick lit authors are fantastic writers, the books are gripping, the plots well planned, the characters go beyond the pages and the stories are heart-breaking and hilarious. 
  • They are entertaining.  I’ve read my fair share of the “great works of literature” and whilst I enjoyed a few of them I spent more time slogging my way through them trying to work out why they’re considered so great than I did enjoying them.  These books aren’t written to change the world they’re written to entertain us and to give us a chance to take a step back from life and indulge. 
  • On a personal note they gave me faith that I could have imperfections and still find my way in life.
Unfortunately for every great book that is published in this genre there are many others that, well to put it politely SUCK!  I recently endured Cup Cakes at Carrington’s by Alex Brown. 

I was really shocked at how many high ratings this books received on Goodreads. I thought it was poorly plotted, rushed, predictable and incredibly annoying. The main character did nothing to warm herself to you and many of the other characters are so one dimensional it’s difficult to remember they exist.  Throughout the book the main characters life history is drip fed, but it’s like part way through the IV was taken away.  We never really get enough information to understand her and know her.  It’s as if the author just ran out of time to develop it and just had to get it finished.   

This is most apparent in the final chapters, it’s the equivalent of and I woke up and it was all a dream. Georgie’s sudden acceptance of her father, her happiness at him giving her best friend away, a brief reference to her starting to design and make clothes, it’s almost a bullet point epilogue that just makes no sense! I feel most let down by the development of the main male characters.  At the end we’re meant to be excited about the prospective future with Tom, and yet his character has been so distant throughout the book with no personality developed that we’re left with a fickle heroine going for the rich good looking guy.  

I know there are more in the series but with great writers like Freya North releasing new books I’d save your time and avoid anything at Carrington’s

Chick lit isn’t for everyone and anyone choosing something like Cup Cakes At Carrington’s as their first venture into the genre will be incredibly disappointed.  However there are amazing authors writing compelling modern “contemporary” stories about women and their relationships with friends, lovers, work and well life.  Don’t be too quick to judge these books, they might give you more insight to yourself than you realise.

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Filed under Book review, General rambling

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