When Ladies Read: The Rise and Rise of the chicklit

on   /   in Lip Stick 12:41 am   /   Comments

By Morenike Taire

It is thought that women everywhere generally like to read far less than men, unless it is romance, or about some heart fluttering gentleman about to ride off cavalierly with then into the endless sunset. The current reality though is that women like to read about other women, thus the rise of chicklit.

Chick lit is smart, fun fiction for and/or about women of all ages. Story lines often revolve around jobs, children, motherhood, romance, fame, living in the ‘big city’, friendship, dieting and much more, usually with a touch of humor thrown in. Many of these books are written from a first-person viewpoint, making them a bit more personal and realistic. The plots can range from being very light and fast-paced to being extraordinarily deep, thought-provoking and/or moving.

Another definition has Chick lit as literature that appeals to women, usually having a romantic or sentimental theme, while yet another as:  any literature that is intended to appeal more to women than men, with a focus on strong or quirky females

There is a sense in which the perception of the genre of literature generally known as chicklit as being fickle and dreamy is both right and wrong- right, because there is always a happy ending, which is at variance with reality and wrong because there is no denying its overwhelming yet growing relevance.

Chicklit became a definitive genre that was recognized when Bridget Jones wrote her diary in 1996 and busted all the blocks, as it were. With relationship rules morphing themselves and shocking adults in or out of relationships the world over, it assumed a social relevance that had been unprecedented, examining from every perspective the thoughts and social circumstances that shape these rules or the lack of them in the relaxed, laid back way afforded only between the steamy sheets of a Chicklit novel.

Or movie, as the case may be. The lure to replicate the success in print of chicklit tales in print could not be overcome. In 2001,the film adaptation of Bridget Jones Diary was an instant hit featuring Hugh Grant and Renee Zellweger to critical acclaim. A musical of the same name opened in London last year. The same big screen success has been recorded with other big chicklit books.

The Bridget Jones trend has spread, with The Devil Wears Prada, a Chicklit book by Lauren Weisberger  also becoming a huge film featuring  Anne Hathaway and  Meryl Streep as has the incredibly trendy 50 Shades of Grey by EL James which could be said to have sold out without the movie being shot. A list actors are contending for the leading roles to a degree that has not been seen for any movie for a long time.

Chiclit is the rocket to outer space, the speedboat to paradise. It’s the ultimate escape from reality. It is the absolution for your propensity to spend far too much- more than you can afford- on clothing and make up. After all, the heroine from the chicklit book you are reading, which is ever so vivid, does as well.

In the Shopaholic series, so did Becky Bloomwood, who tried to literally bribe the account officer who managed the joint bank account she ran with her fiancée to bungle up the bank statement so it would not reflect the huge vanity purchases she had done on the credit card.

“I regret however”, writes Walt Pitman, the director of customer relations, in turning down her furtive request, “… the particular debit item you referred to will appear on your next statement as ‘Prada, New York’. It cannot be changed to ‘Gas Bill’”.

In Shopaholic as much as in 50 Shades, the hero is perfect- the beautiful, well heel dude of the daydreams of the typical young woman who would ride in in a maserati- the modern equivalent of a horse and carriage- to sweep her off her feet, rescue her from a life of boring drudgery and carry her off her feet in a happily ever after world. Anastasia, the vapid heroine muses:

My husband—my hot, beautiful husband, shirtless, and in cut-off

Jeans… He looks more like a student than the hotshot CEO of one the top privately owned companies in the United States.

It’s not always dresses and dudes in the glistening world of chicklit, though they are the prevalent preoccupations. Other things that are of concern to women are also featured, though shrouded in the usual glamour. In the Devil Wears Prada and Bridget Jones’ Diary, the heroines Andrea and Bridget are fiercely ambitious and take their careers seriously. And it’s not always  frivolity and me-me-me. In the Devil Wears Prada, much deeper issues of loyalty and faithfulness come to the fore, so you’re not an airhead if you have your head buried in a chicklit book all the time.

Janet jackson’s fairy tale

The buzz has resonated to the four corners of planet earth- literally- about the engagement and marriage plans of musician and actress Janet Jackson. And for good reason. The 46 year old has been married twice before, yet still looks forward with optimism to this wedding, which is set to be the wedding 2013.

The lucky dude is Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, a billionaire whose family has extensive reaches in the real estate and media sphere and who famously gave her a stunning 15 carat diamond ring when he proposed. Janet’s wealthy beau plans on sparing no expense for their spring nuptials in Qatar, and he is flying in all of Janet’s friends and family on private jets.

They will reportedly spend $3 million to fly in their 500 wedding guests from all over the world, while Wissam wants to give all attendees a $10,000 Rolex watch each as a thank you for attending.

The couple met in December  2009 after Janet gave a special performance in the Middle East and the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, it is said that good things come to those who wait. Or hopefully.

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