The female opposite number to Tom Clancy
and the like, girl novels are to be found in the "quality" paperback
section of the grocery store
book aisle. They're usually about 250 pages long, and feature women as their main characters, usually in some exotic or quaint locale, often the American South
, or the prairie
, but can also be the Celtic fringe of Britain
, or the like.
What sets them apart from romance novels is their covert feminism: women and men don't generally deal much with each other. Instead of romance, love is expressed by one's devotion to one's children, sisters, or female friends (a specialty of these novels is getting pubescent girls naked together, especially in moonlight and almost getting it on...I see in my mind's eye a reader with a whiffle haircut biting her thumb in sheer titillation). Relations with men are strained: they're either conveniently out of the picture, not sympathetic characters, or merely ineffectual, the equivalent of a gibbed cat. With this out of the way, the novel is usually spent demonstrating how saintly the heroine is, how "different voiced", until something comes between her and her love, at which point she reacts like a mother bear. Other hallmarks include: a history of abuse, generally by a father, some treatment of race relations, no matter how incongruous this is, some mention of herbal remedies, (aromatherapy a plus) ditto, and some form of Goddess worship, even if the women involved are pious Protestants, some expression of vegetarian empathy with animals....in short, the women involved have exactly the same views as an urban middle-aged affluent white woman of the Millenial era, even if they're none of these.