Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post, here.
Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire
by Carol Dyhouse
What can a cultural history of the heartthrob teach us about women, desire, and social change? From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing military heroes, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as about masculine icons.
When girls were supposed to be shrinking violets, passionate females risked being seen as ‘unbridled’, or dangerously out of control. Change came slowly, and young women remained trapped in double-binds. You may have needed a husband in order to survive, but you had to avoid looking like a gold-digger. Sexual desire could be dangerous: a rash guide to making choices. Show attraction too openly and you might be judged ‘fast’ and undesirable. Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of cultural horizons. Young women in the early twentieth century showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino’s screen performances, as tango-dancer, Arab tribesman, or desert lover. Contemporary critics were sniffy about ‘shop-girl’ taste in literature and in men, but as consumers, girls had new clout.
In Heartthrobs, social and cultural historian Carole Dyhouse draws upon literature, cinema, and popular romance to show how the changing position of women has shaped their dreams about men, from Lord Byron in the early nineteenth century to boy-bands in the early twenty-first. Reflecting on the history of women as consumers and on the nature of fantasy, escapism, and ‘fandom’, she takes us deep into the world of gender and the imagination. A great deal of feminist literature has shown women as objects of the ‘male gaze’: this book looks at men through the eyes of women.
I’ve owned a copy of this one for a while now and still haven’t picked it up, but I should! It sounds so interesting, and it could be the perfect non-fiction read for a February devoted to reading romance.
What’s the last non-fiction book you really enjoyed?
My plan for February is to read and review as much romance as I can, and it turns out it was a great idea on my behalf because this week has been something. My Grandma was rushed to hospital earlier this week and we were told there’s nothing more the doctors can do for her. She’s now back at home, thank goodness, and in the comfort of her own bed with lovely carers to check in on her and my auntie just around the corner. Fingers crossed we get to keep her for a while longer, just as long as she doesn’ take a turn for the worst, and if it wasn’t for romance I wouldn’t have done any reading at all this week, but it’s the perfect genre to turn to when you’re feeling a bit low.
A rom-com set at a Ren Faire is the perfect kind of rom-com for a history nerd like me, so, of course, I ended up liking Jen DeLuca’s Well Met a lot. Look out for my review next week!
Last year I read Alyssa Cole’s novella, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, an f/f romance novella set in her Reluctant Royals series, and I figured this month is the perfect time to start the series properly with the first novel, A Princess in Theory. It’s good fun so far and so easy to read – I’m so glad to have discovered my love for the romance genre, because I’ve certainly needed it this week!
I was approved for an eARC of Sandhya Menon’s new Beauty and the Beast retelling, Of Curses and Kisses, via NetGalley, so I’d like to get it read and reviewed this month. I’m looking forward to trying Menon’s work!