Monday, April 20, 2009

To Angst or not to Angst?



Hi, everyone! I’m Brie of Musings of a Bibliophile, thanks for having me! When Tracy asked me to guest blog, I had absolutely no idea what to blog about. She gave me a few ideas, like blogging about six DIK books or heroes. I decided to go with the books and as I was typing up my post on six books I would want with me if I was on a deserted island, I realized that all of my books had a common theme, and that was romantic angst.


I guess I never really took into consideration how much I enjoy books where the couple is put through the wringer before they get their happily ever after. But after going back over that post the truth was undeniable, I am an angst whore. I just love books with couples that go through separations, "understandable" misunderstandings, external machinations, believe the other one is dead, have a third party causing trouble, etc., and then find their way back to each other by the last page - with no clear answer as to whether or not they will remain together.


I know many romance readers are total opposites from me and dislike a lot of angst, and I get why. Too much angst can be draining, and if the ending is not befitting the amount of hardship that the characters went through, then it doesn’t seem worth it. Why expend your emotions on these characters and not see them get an ending that makes it all worthwhile? It’s hard for me to explain, but I honestly don’t care if the ending is perfect or not, just as long as the resolution fits who the characters have become by the end of the story.

I had to ask myself why I enjoy angsty stories so much? After much thought, I came up with the reasons below, and I incorporated my six Desert Island Keepers into the answers:


I like the added realisticness of not knowing if the couple will live happily ever after, because in real life there is only happy for now. I like the struggle that it takes to form a relationship that is sigh worthy, (Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas) because anything worth having is worth fighting for. I prefer for characters to have everything and the kitchen sink thrown at them (The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly), for them to be rejected then taken back, to be loved in every sense of the word and then lose that love (The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery), for them to feel pain - because love hurts (If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman) and then, when all of that is worked through, I want for them to be a little bit cynical (Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale), to know that things might not really work out in the end, but what the hell, I love you so I’m giving this my best shot (Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale).

So, to angst or not to angst? I’ve given my answers, now what about you? Do you live for the romantic angst or does it drive you absolutely crazy?


(Pictures from some of my favorite angst ridden movies that are all based on books or, in the case of Romeo and Juliet, plays.)

11 comments:

Lea said...

Good morning Brie!

Great Post. :)

I love the angst and conflict in my romance reading. For me, it adds to the suspence of whether the couple is every going to find the "HEA".

Best Regards

Jill Sorenson said...

LOVE angst. Great post.

I often struggle with how much angst to include in my books. Usually end up going with A LOT! I can't help it. I love it when characters suffer and work hard for that HEA.

Hilcia said...

Hi Brie!

I also love some well done angst in a book, it just seems to make that HEA or HFN that much sweeter.

Renee said...

Hi Brie!

I love the angst. One of my favorite romance reads this year, Scandal by Carolyn Jewel, was a perfect example of angsty romance.

I think I like angst in a romance because it demands something of the characters other than falling in love, and usually results in character growth (one of my favorite things to read about.)

Great post! :-)

DIK Ladies said...

Thanks everyone! I'm glad I'm not alone in my angst love.

Lea, that's a great thing about angst, too. It leaves the "are they or aren't they" up in the air.

Jill, if I was a writer, I would probably have the same struggle!

Hilcia, I agree. The ending is always more rewarding when the characters have to work to get there.

Renee, now I want to read Scandal. I will have to get it next time I'm in the store. I'm always on the lookout for books with well written romantic angst.

Brie said...

^^^ That was me. Gah.

DBReynolds said...

I like angst as long as it's not too contrived. If every couple found happiness immediately, there would be no story -- at least not one worth reading. I mean, who wants a feel good romance? LOL (That's a joke, people.)

But while a little bit of angst is good. Endless angst is WTF?

Tracy said...

I'm with DB Reynolds. A lot of angst but not contrived. And they have to earn their HEA at the end. The story, for me, has to end believably...even if it's only a HFN. If I've read nothing but angst I need to see a great resolution at the end.

Great post Brie - and thank you for filling in today!

Brie said...

DBRenolds, while I'm all for angst, I am not for the contrived variety. As long as it is reasonable and makes sense within the context of the story, then I'm okay. When things start becoming unbelievable, I'm out.

There is a fine line between well written angst and overwritten angst. I prefer the former, which makes finding a really good angsty romance hard.

Thanks for having me, Tracy!

Tumperkin said...

To angst! To angst!

I love angst.

I am an angst whore and proud of it.

*happy sigh*

Carolyn Jean said...

Oh, what a great post. I love the angst, too. It makes the end so much sweeter. Plus, I'm an angsty type.

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