I read a blog not too long ago about how often in romance novels one character or the other winds up giving up his/her home, way of life and often job to go live happily-ever-after with the other character. (Usually it’s the heroines making the big change.)
Some of the commenters thought it was a strange thing not to be embraced; others found it perfectly normal. Count me among the last. Before anyone suggests that it’s my age (being raised in a time when men were men and women were helpmates, LOL), nope, that’s not it. Neither of my older sisters would have given up everything to move away for a man.
For me, it’s my husband. After I fell in love with him and married him, he went back on active duty in the Navy. There’s no naval base in landlocked Oklahoma, so I knew we’d be moving away. Sailors tend to get transferred every 3-4 years, so I knew any job I had would have to be either temporary or portable. Sailors also tend to go away for long periods of time, so I knew I’d be raising our son on my own during those times. And we had little to no say in where we went — big city, small town, expensive, cheap, high crime rate, bad schools, etc. The Navy said “Go” and we went. For sixteen years.
So the idea of leaving home and going off into a totally new environment (and trust me, the military is its own environment) for the love of a man doesn’t seem at all unusual to me. How happy would I have been staying here while he left? What kind of life would we have had if I’d refused?
And so when I read books (and write them, too) where the hero or heroine leaves the big city (or the small town) and gives up the high-powered career and the fuller (or slower-paced) life because s/he’s fallen in love with someone whose life is elsewhere, it makes perfect sense to me. I don’t see it as a sacrifice, as some of those blog commenters did, but rather as a commitment to the most important thing in their lives – love.
(Just for the record: near the end of his Navy career, my husband was offered a job that he really, really wanted in our most favorite city in the world – New Orleans – in exchange for a couple years’ extension. But we’d been moving around for sixteen years, and I wanted to come home. He didn’t argue, didn’t cajole or coerce or try to persuade me. He told them, “No, thanks,” and we came home.)
Our own life experiences affect our reading and what we find acceptable or see as too strange. As the daughter of an alcoholic, I cringe at characters who drink too heavily for fun (unless the drinking problem is a significant part of the story). I once talked to a woman whose husband had Alzheimer’s who found my Rachel Butler books, where his father’s Alzheimer’s is an ongoing issue for the hero, too difficult to read.
Do you have any hang-ups with fiction based on your own experiences? Do they affect your reading pleasure, or are you able to push them aside? Is there anything you absolutely can’t read about when you’re reading for pleasure?