Men Breaking the Rules (by Writing Believable Women’s Fiction)

While I love all of our Spotlights, I have a special place in my heart for the women’s fiction issue (after all, I wrote the book(s) on the topic!). In the very first Women’s Fiction Spotlight that I contributed to, I wrote up “Rebecca’s Rules: Defining Women’s Fiction,” since the term is so vague. (It’s not just any book featuring women!)

all you could ask for mike greenbergOf course, rules are made to be broken, and the rule I’ll pick today is that women’s fiction is generally written by . . . you guessed it, women.  Sometimes—just sometimes—a few guys manage to sneak by, and I’d like to call attention to two of them.

Sports anchor Mike Greenberg surprised the heck out of just about everybody with his novel, All You Could Ask For (2013), the story of three well-to-do women from Greenwich, Connecticut. Greenberg displays an admirable ear for realistic dialogue. Not only is a novel about female friendships unusual for a male author to choose as his subject, but it’s unusual for a man to be able to get inside a woman’s head so well to be able to create authentic women’s voices.

leaving the worldThe first time I read a Douglas Kennedy title (specifically, Leaving the World, 2010), I was left scratching my head—surely, Douglas Kennedy was really Donna Kennedy, right? Kennedy’s novels are richly romantic, full of true-to-life characters. Not all of them feature women as the main characters, but Leaving the World and Five Days (2013) are fantastic examples of the kinds of emotional heft readers may be looking for when they choose women’s fiction.

There’s certainly nothing that says a man can’t write realistic women, or create stories featuring women’s lives and relationships—it’s just not very common. So kudos to those who can do it, and do it well!


About the Author:

Rebecca Vnuk is the Executive Director of LibraryReads. She was formerly the Editor, Reference and Collection Management, for Booklist Publications.

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