Created on: March 04, 2013
As website Novelicious describes it, “Chick Lit is a sub genre of women’s’ fiction perceived to appeal to, or be marketed at, young women, typically concerning romantic dilemmas.” There has been much criticism leveled at the genre over the years, with many professing it to be a waste of time.
Nevertheless, it has remained popular with young women, and some men, throughout the 2000s and, although its popularity seems to be on the wane, it shows no signs of completely disappearing any time soon.
History of chick lit
It is hard to define exactly when chick lit began, because it has arguably been around for centuries – Jane Austen’s 'Pride and Prejudice' could be classed as the chick lit of its time and women have undoubtedly been reading light-hearted fiction since books became commonly available. Nevertheless, chick lit is generally regarded to be a mainstay of the 2000s and began with books such as Sophie Kinsella’s ‘The Secret Dreamworld of an Alcoholic’ and Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary.’
Chick lit is often linked with romance and there is little doubt that many chick lit books do concentrate on a relationship between its protagonist and a man. However, chick lit is often about ‘finding oneself’ and is just as likely to be about a woman finding her way out of an unsuitable romance, or about her career and relationship with friends and family, with a number of humorous twists. One thing is almost invariably the case; the storylines are about a female character and are written by women.
Popular authors in the genre
There are a number of popular authors in the genre, but some of the best known include Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Paige Toon and Cecelia Ahern. Marian Keyes is one of the longest-serving writers of chick lit, having published books such as ‘Watermelon’ and ‘Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married’ in 1996 and 1997 respectively.
Sophie Kinsella really hit the big-time with her ‘Shopaholic’ books, one of which, ‘The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic,’ was made into the film ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic.’ Cecelia Ahern became popular with her first novel, ‘P.S. I Love You,’ later made into a film starring Hilary Swank, and went on to write ‘Rainbow’s End’ and ‘One Hundred Names.’ Paige Toon has also made a name for herself in the genre with books such as ‘Lucy In the Sky’ and ‘Chasing Daisy.’
The future of chick lit
Although still in the best-seller lists, chick lit is no longer as popular as it once was and, as an Economist article explains, “the bloom is off the chick lit rose,” because publishers are turning down new titles.
The reason is unclear, but the article suggests that the market is over-saturated and that chick lit only represents the more frivolous problems facing women, rather than financial and career responsibilities that most women find take up most of their time these days.
It isn’t over yet though and, provided that chick lit authors can move with the times and represent some of the more serious issues facing women, there is still plenty of hope. In the meantime, chick lit will always be considered harmless fun for reading on the beach.
Often referred to as ‘fluffy,’ chick lit may no longer be as popular as it once was, but there is still plenty of choice for women who do want to read something light-hearted and frivolous. Maybe in time, once the market is no longer so saturated, it will enjoy another surge in status.
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