I’ve never held with the belief that a book or movie is unable to be both light-hearted and serious at the same time. Critics of chick-lit often suggest that it’s trite, frothy and predictable. And the minute you add humour and label something a romantic comedy, forget it, you can’t take it seriously.
I’m calling BS on all of that. Humour is a great device for not only entertaining, it’s a wonderful way to get to the heart of darker issues in a manageable way. Real life provides many examples of this. For instance, I have a friend who has worked as nurse for more than twenty years. I don’t know how she does it. When she has a bad day, a patient of hers dies. A bad day for me is not meeting my word count (let’s not go into how a good day for me might be killing one of my characters, because as writers we’re a strange breed…)
Over the years I’ve known this friend, I’ve come to realise that humour is one of her ways of dealing with the darker sides of her job. She has an awesome sense of humour!
In the literary sense, take a look at authors like Marian Keyes or Jennifer Wiener. They successfully weave issues like depression, self-esteem, divorce and all manner of other serious issues into their ‘light’ fiction.
Romance with depth and some laughter
When The Boyfriend Sessions was released last month naturally I was curious as to how it would be received. As reviews started appearing on Goodreads, I read them with the sense of trepidation I’m sure every writer experiences when they’ve released their baby into the world.
It seems readers also appreciate that there is depth to be experienced amidst laughter and humour. Take a look:
Amy from Lost in a Good Book had this to say:
“There is a wonderful serious underside to the laughing and the wine and it brings the best out of the narrative. Williams has managed to balance the light heartedness and seriousness wonderfully which has resulted in an engaging and thoughtful story.”
Book blogger Lara shared her thoughts:
“I started this story expecting a fun and light read but The Boyfriend Sessions is more than that. I don’t know…maybe it’s just the right-book-at-the-right-time kind of thing but this story gives – in my opinion – an interesting insight on good and bad relationships we (women) find ourselves in and, even more important, about how they leave some long lasting effects we often tend to ignore.”
Krissy from Krissy’s Bookshelf:
“I figured there would be plenty of comedy or romance, which there is quite a bit of however The Boyfriend Sessions has much more meaningful depth than I realized…Its a wonderful story of finding your way through healing.”
As a writer, reviews like this give me faith that my desire to write women’s fiction that is both light-hearted and serious, is achievable. Which is good, because it’s something I’m driven to do anyway. If people enjoy reading it, that’s a bonus 😉
What do you think? Can the genres of romance, chick-lit and romantic comedy be vehicles to explore deeper issues? And do you enjoy reading books with those elements in them?
6 Replies to “Light-hearted fiction with depth? You can’t be serious.”
Absolutely! Case in point – the film, About Time. I went into it thinking it had to be a light-hearted chick flick. Only by the time the credits rolled, I realized that it was about finding joy and wonder in the everyday – an incredibly valuable lesson, and one that could have easily been lost in another genre.
Great example, Allie. I also expected a chick flick and my husband went from complaining about another girly movie, to sitting down beside me and watching the whole thing with me. It was a fantastic movie with so much humour and real depth too.
My hubby did the same! Really that should have been in the advertsing – your date will like it.
“Humour is a great device for not only entertaining, it’s a wonderful way to get to the heart of darker issues in a manageable way.”
Uh. Yes! Totally agree! I write a lot of heavily dramatic stuff and the only way to get through the deepest stuff is to be able to laugh.
Now, I have to read The Boyfriend Sessions.
Yes, sometimes it’s better to laugh than cry! Good to know I’m not the only one who views humour as complimentary to drama.
They’re vital to one another. Like chocolate and vanilla