Friday, June 20, 2014

Christian Romances

On very rare occasions I grab a Christian romance novel when I want a quick, light read that will be inoffensive. The problem, however, is that bad writing offends me. Honestly, where are the editors of these books!?!? My most recent attempt was a book about a widow who discovers her husband, a medical doctor, had secretely gambled away their wealth.

She starts a new life with God’s help and meets a wonderful widower and lives happily ever after. There was nothing terribly wrong with the story, but it was supposed to take place in Victorian England and all the dialogue sounded one hundred percent American.

Many descriptive (showing) sentences were followed by unnecessary telling sentences such as this: “I wouldn’t mind weavin’ baskets if I could stay home from school all the time.” Obviously he dislikes school, but the author has to hammer that in with the following phrase: Jeremiah often let it be known that the pursuit of education was low on his list of priorities. This kind of disprespect to the intelligence of the reader rankles me.

I am a Christian who appreciates a story in which the protagonist’s actions are governed by his sincere faith, but I thought that the preachiness of the book was over the top. 

In my younger days I was a big fan of Janette Oke and Gilbert Morris books, but I tired of them when they all started sounding the same. And after swearing them off for a time, I just never could get back into them. The best writer by far in the Christian romance category is Jan Karon. Although her books are not strictly romances, she somehow she broke the formulaic barrier and wrote believable, non-syrupy novels about people of faith (with intelligent sentences to boot!)

What are your thoughts about Christian romance novels? 


Farm Girl said...

Jan Karon was about it. I would never touch one with a ten foot pole.
I guess I have always thought with so much good literature I have never read, why waste my time with fluff. I hope this doesn't sound offensive. I have found now my time is so short I want my brain to be challenged.

Lynn said...

Well I do have to agree with you. Bad writing offends me, too. I have never been much for romance novels in general (LOVE Jan Karon, though :) ). I'd rather read Elisabeth Elliot or C.S. Lewis or other Christian authors who will get my brain to thinkin' thoughts of God.

Sherry said...

I'm not sure they are romances strictly speaking, but the best contemporary Christian authors I have found are Jamie Langston Turner and Athol Dickson.

Here are a couple of reviews:

Barbara H. said...

Jan Karon and C. S. Lewis are probably the top Christian fiction writers though they weren't marketed that way. And they didn't really write romances per se though there is romance in some of their books. I'm not a big fan of romances unless there is something else to the story. Have you ever read Dee Henderson? I don't know how I'd describe her writing - suspense, maybe. Her books are page-turners for me. Travis Bunn is good also.

Carol in Oregon said...

I put Jan Karon in a different genre, more akin to Miss Read.

Occasionally I read Christian fiction because a friend begged me to read (and love) a title that meant a lot to her. [Do you get these kind of requests, Hope? Confirmed readers are targets, I say. :)]

The book goes down quickly and easily, but there is no satisfaction at the end that I experience after a Trollope or Dickens or Berry. I'm still hungry for good words.

Rowena said...

How about Francine Rivers? I have read almost all of her books, including her latest. I have found some to be good, but this last one was a big disappointment as far as the writing. I'm still a fan, tho.

Anonymous said...

Who was it who said the problem with a lot of Christian fiction is that it's either bad Christianity or bad fiction (or both)? Right on.

And I agree with you about the frustration of allegedly historical characters acting in a purely modern way, albeit with a Christian glaze. Grrr!

Actually, now I think about it, why do most Christian romance writers set their stories in the past, or their idea of it? (Any ideas?)

Mind you, when all's said and done, most romance writing is fantasy of one sort of another, which isn't a very Christian approach to relationship!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I was a devoted reader of both Oke and Morris as a teen, but after I grew tired of their formulas, I never went back to them. Somehow I don't consider Karon (whom I confess I've only read one book by) in the same genre. I do like the two authors Sherry mentions, though.

Jan said...

Yes, quite a few books these days need better editing. And not just Christian romances. For book club last year we read a self-published book that had potential, but was full of typos and grammatical errors (i.e. "that [name of character] and him had come up with" and "as her and her father made their way down" or "he didn't know want to"). Reading it felt like fingernails on a chalkboard. For me, Jan Karon's Mitford books are like comfort food; I'm looking forward to the newest one that should be out in September. I'm currently reading some of Francine Rivers' books, but have never heard of Turner or Dickson. I'll have to see if our library has anything by them.

Unknown said...

I was digging around on your blog and found this post. For years, I've consumed so much Christian fiction and only have just started to see how badly written many of them are!! Since I've begun to try to read things that encourage, edify, and help me grow, I'm finding a lot of these just don't make the cut. Thanks for posting this. :) Miss Read is a light romance reader that I really love as of late. :)