Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dipping a toe into the 'chick lit' genre

WATKINS GLEN, New York - When I picked up a copy of the novel Saving Grace (St. Martin's Press, 2014) the opening chapter grabbed me right away with a description of a cranky novelist and the tension between he and his cookbook-writing wife.

Not that I am a cranky novelist. You hear me? I'm not!

But the compelling story about their relationship gradually shifts into a tale about mental illness, jealousy, betrayal and evil intrigue.

Lots of evil intrigue. (Oh! And for the record, the husband/novelist is not the one with mental problems.)

Early on, Saving Grace author Jane Green introduces a young woman to work with she and her husband as a family assistant. Readers of novels like this immediately see the red flags and think they know what's going to happen.

They're wrong.

But I said readers of novels like this because Jane Green is considered practically the inventor of the genre of literature known as 'chick lit,' focusing on women and relationships in novels that are snapped up by women. (Please note, I resisted all temptations here to inject some stereotypical male comment about the proclivities and habits of women.)

I didn't realize I was reading chick lit until I looked up Ms. Green's other work and to contact her about a detail that disturbed me in the book.

As write my novels, I am extremely careful to ensure that details are, well, as truthful as can be. I don't change the speed of light, alter gravity, make up statistics or have Lincoln assassinated by a cruise missile.

Author Jane Green
What caught my eye was a section in which the author's wife is discussing bi-polar disorder with her doctor. In the course of that conversation, the doctor says that in 1996 the number of people diagnosed as being bi-polar was 1 in 20,000 in the U.S. In 2014 (presumably) that number had jumped to 1 in 20.

Sweet Jesus!

I contacted Ms. Green and asked if we could chat about that detail, which, so far, I haven't been able to track down.

Saving Grace is good read, fast-paced, and transcends any publisher's marketing labels to entice readers to buy a copy.

And it's on the new book shelf at the Watkins Glen public library, too.

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