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Will Chick Lit Survive The Recession?

Chick lit just got a whole lot less expensive. No, the price of the sometimes throwaway-quality books hasn’t gone down, but many recently published and upcoming books in this genre take the recession into account. Storylines in recession chick-lit books include dealing with a husband being investigated for embezzlement, scrimping on extravagant expenses after going through a divorce, and wearing less expensive clothes. Dang! Is nothing sacred?Jonathan Segura, a deputy editor at Publishers Weekly, described the change in chick lit:

“One of the big motifs in these books is a sort of empowerment,” Mr. Segura said. “Swathed in Gucci, Prada and what not, their protagonists realign their priorities and realize, ‘Oh, I don’t need that Givenchy gown. I can look great in Eileen Fisher, too.’”

(Uh, Jon? At Eileen Fisher, a long-sleeve T-shirt can cost you $138, so wearing something from that brand isn’t exactly slumming it.)

I’ve never been a big fan of chick-lit books about the lives of the rich and fabulous, although a lot of women seem to enjoy living vicariously through them. Some of the classic books beloved by young girls and adolescents focus on characters who don’t have much discretionary spending money. Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is all about a family without a breadwinner. The family in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie is scrounging to make ends meet. The Boxcar Children were orphans who lived in an abandoned train car in the woods and ate potatoes for dinner. I don’t remember reading a single book focused on wealth when I was younger. Yes, there were some rich and snooty characters, but they weren’t often the protagonists.

While I guess it’s comforting to know that chick-lit authors are acknowledging the recession, I propose someone writes a novel in this genre that isn’t about lives that come with $1 million bonuses. A book about a divorcée living in ritzy Greenwich, CT, who has to switch to a cheaper country club isn’t so different from the one about the woman who is “new money” and can’t get an appointment at the it salon. We’re still talking about rich people’s problems. Why would I want to read about that when I have economic issues of my own?

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