PCA National Conference location:Saint-Louis (USA) date:March 31 - April 3 2010
With over 400 million copies of her novels in print and 164 New York Times bestsellers to her name, Nora Robert is the single most successful popular romance author of our time as well as one of the bestselling authors in the world. Still, scholarly attention to her oeuvre has been remarkably sparse. This paper addresses this gap in pop culture research.
One of the most prominent themes in Roberts’ romance fiction – besides the romantic courtship narrative - is family, friendship and community. Within the romance genre Roberts is particularly known for her characteristic depiction of non-romantic interpersonal relationships. Her representations of families in all shapes and forms (blood-related and of the heart), her depiction of female and male friendships and the sense of togetherness, community and belonging that characterizes each of these writings have become a hallmark of Roberts’ personal voice and one of the elements that unfailingly draws hordes of readers to her books. Nonetheless, no detailed analysis of this theme in Roberts’ writing exists.
This paper looks at this theme from three perspectives: first of all it traces the theme’s development from cosy background setting to driving narrative force in Roberts’ vast oeuvre. Secondly, it looks at how the theme has increased Roberts’ presence as an individual author within the line-driven romance genre by introducing the connected book or series format. This format inherently increases the narrative, paratextual and extratextual prominence of the individual author. As such, the paper argues, it contributes to the perception of Nora Roberts as an auteur in the Foucaultian sense of the word. Finally, the paper examines the influence of the theme and its concomitant series format on the whole romance industry, in which the connected books format is now omnipresent.