Romance novels need a canon
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats. Read the whole essay.
No offense to Bono, but we were thrilled to see the Nobel Peace Prize go to innovative Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus today. Yunus received the award on the strength of his Grameen Bank project, which allows poor people to borrow small sums of money without collateral. The arrangement, known as microcredit or microfinance, can mean the difference between starvation and subsistence for those who don’t qualify for conventional bank loans and services. The Grameen Bank has lent an estimated $5.65 billion to 6.6 million Bangladeshis — and 97 percent of the bank’s customers have been women, according to the Associated Press. The average amount the bank’s customers borrow is $200, and the bank has a 99 percent repayment rate.
Bangladesh, with its debilitating poverty and eroding coastline, is a natural fit for microcredit, but Yunus’ efforts have also inspired similar systems elsewhere; banks modeled on the Grameen Bank are estimated to have helped 17 million people worldwide. A related AP story profiles a woman in Angola, who received a microloan of around $1,000 from a bank modeled on Grameen and has since established a profitable business, sent her daughter to school and bought a home.
Yunus and Grameen will receive about $1.4 million as part of the prize, funds Yunus says he’ll use to create inexpensive, nutritive food for the poor. What a guy. He has been pretty modest about receiving the award, too — one of his aides told the AP that the prize was an “honor for millions of poor women who have made this possible.”
Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.More Page Rockwell.
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
"Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie
Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower. Read the whole essay.
"A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant
A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex. Read the whole essay.
"Black Silk" by Judith Ivory
A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say. Read the whole essay.
"For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale
A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society. Read the whole essay.
"Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner
A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ... Read the whole essay.
"Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen
Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight. Read the whole essay.
"The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal
A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency. Read the whole essay.
"Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time. Read the whole essay.