“We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .”

Happy Official Holiday for the Fourth Of July, Even Though It’s Only The Third!

There are certain inviolable rights that we take as Life Assumptions; I’m talking, of course, about knowing–and owning as part of one’s self–certain pop culture touchstones. Recently (i.e. yesterday), I was reminded of a truth I’d suppressed: That Carolyn Jewel, our newest Risky, had never seen North And South, the BBC mini-series based on an Elizabeth Gaskell book. It’s not set in the Regency (it’s Victorian), but it is otherwise perfectly suited for a historical romance fan.

Because, you know, it’s set in a historical period and is a romance.

Anyway, Carolyn will doubtless rectify that gap in her life soon, thanks to pressure from me and many other N&S fans who are on Twitter, but it got me to thinking about pop culture assumptions, and then into the Venn Diagram of romance novel assumptions. There are some people who grew up without TV (like me), and I don’t have that common vernacular of forty-somethings who grew up on a diet of ’70s television. There are romance readers who’ve never read Nora Roberts (also like me), or Lord of Scoundrels (NOT like me), or seen Romancing the Stone (me, again), or liked Ghost (guilty), or any of a countless other shared experiences that weren’t so shared after all. Just like we all know Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson, and Watergate, and chia pets, and Frankie Says Relax, we all assume we’ve read Nora, or seen certain iconic romantic movies or share the same opinions and assumptions about our books (for example, I am always startled when someone doesn’t love Lord of Scoundrels; I can accept it, but it stuns me for a minute or two).

What Romance Pop Culture Touchstone have you never experienced? Which of your Romance Pop Culture Touchstones are inviolable when it comes to discussing romance with others?

And happy Truth-Holding Day!


*See how concerned Richard Armitage is that Carolyn hasn’t viewed his John Thornton-ness?

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13 years ago

As a teacher of English literature I’m definitely interested in so many works, but yet have to read so many others. My to- be -read list is endless. Anyhow, if you ask me to talk as a romance lover, my first “crushes” are linked to “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”. My love for reading, for literature (English literature), and for costume drama and movies started from those first happy encounters at 14 (such a long time ago!) Now when one of my students – especially boys – expresses his dislike for “such romantic girlish stuff” I feel personnaly offended, though I professionally and passionately try to defend my favourite writers as non- romantic at all and focus my lessons on the woman question and other issues.
By the way, Richard Armitage and “North and South” are adultage’s “crushes”!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

‘Fessing up day, Megan???
I also have not seen North and South, so don’t feel bad, Carolyn. Even worse, I’ve had the DVD for about a year now.

I’ve also never read Lord of Scoundrels….

I have read some Nora Roberts, though.

Maggie Robinson w/a Margaret Rowe

A friend sent me North and South months ago. I’ve forbidden myself to indulge in it until I get further into my WIP. *g*

I’ve never watched a single episode of ER with or without George Clooney or a minute of any reality TV show, except for the earliest Real Worlds on MTV, and even then I though they were pretty repulsive.

I was quite late coming to Jane Austen, although have since seen the error of my ways.:)

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

I have a friend (one who doesn’t read much romance, but will read ones I give her, and we generally have similar tastes) who thought LOS was boring!!! I was a bit taken aback. 🙂 I still feel like it’s really the perfect historical romance novel. It’s second on my “all-time favorite” list behind “For My Lady’s Heart,” but it’s close!

Anyone who has not seen N&S go and see it (especially if you are in need of inspiration, LOL). It’s my favorite costume drama, which is saying a lot considering what a costume drama freak-a-zoid I am. 🙂 The train station scene–swoon.

I am always behind on TV shows, especially since I have the most basic of basic cable and rely on Netflix for so much. I was late to the “Mad Men” party, and have just started “True Blood,” but once I saw them I was hooked.

13 years ago

Sorry! This is my comment – part II
I was …needed this afternoon just when I was going to write about what I never experienced… I never watched any reality show or soap opera … I can’t stand them. I don’t mind talent shows, sometimes I watch them. So to sum up: my inviolable touchstones, as for romance, are JE, P&P and S&S; never experienced Pop TV culture shows … NO BIG BROTHER or BEAUTIFUL! Have a wonderful weekend!MG

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

I’ve only seen bits n pieces of N&S–quite honestly I didn’t find it that absorbing, or Richard Armitage particularly interesting. The factory scenes were great, particularly once you knew the “snow” was killer cotton fluff. In the railway station scene I found myself looking for bits of modern railway trappings that might have been left in. But a major YES to Wives & Daughters, my favorite Mrs. Gaskell and a brilliant tv adaptation.

Tried Nora Roberts (zzzzzzz). No to Lord of Scoundrels tho I may give it a try.

Saw Ghost (bleh) but loved Truly Madly Deeply that came out in the same year and didn’t get beyond the arty theaters (it has Alan Rickman before the jowls took over).

Like Maria, no to soaps, most reality shows, and like Megan, grew up mostly without TV.

Yes to MI5, True Blood, the Beatles.

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

Hmm. I have to agree that I feel Lord of Scoundrels is one of the best historical romances ever.

I have never watched ER or Grey’s Anatomy. Say Ghost and Dirty Dancing and thought they were both …. okay.

And I REALLY want to see M15!!

And I REALLY don’t see what all the fuss is about George Clooney. He seems very nice, but just not my type I guess!

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

*GASP* Diane, you call yourself my friend and you HAVE NOT seen N&S? How can this be?!?! And Janet, et tu Brutus? RA is not interesting?!

Carolyn, that movie nite is high priority now. Half of you Riskies have not experienced RA. You need Megan, Ammanda, I, and others coaching you in the wonderful scenes as we watch the entire four-parter.


Jane Austen
13 years ago


I had not heard of Loretta Chase until this post and THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. She is amazing. I can’t believe the plots, characters, twists. I think I have a school girl crush.