I read an interesting review of my novel the other day, picked up by my Google notifier that tells me anytime anyone mentions my book (so be careful!!). It was a fine review, but one part of it struck me. The author wrote about how, since she was happy with her husband during her child's first year of life, she couldn't identify with the protagonist in my book. Because of this, she didn't love the book.
Now what fascinates me is the criteria for judging books among the chick-class. We decide whether or not we like a novel based on whether or not we can directly identify with the main character. As someone who reads voraciously, who spent four years getting a higher education in English, I can assure you that I have loved many novel with a nasty protagonist I could not imagine myself into.
With all serious literature (and much of men's fiction), there is no need to read only what you can directly relate to as if it were one's own life. Why the limitation among women?
I've had countless women who have NO children tell me how much they liked my book. Is it possible that while many people read novels about life in Iraq or Italy, people who live in Ohio or Utah, that while many women read novels with male main characters, and many men read novels with female main characters (in fact one of my friend's husbands stayed up until one in the morning because he couldn't put my book down, yes, my book about a new mother), that CHICKS who read lit are so limited by their own experience they can't judge a book if they aren't the main character themselves?
Because where does that leave Shakespeare and Milton and Grisham, for that matter? Oh, I think chicks may be able to do better, stretch themselves out. After all, I'm a chick and I just finished a book about a Buddhist man. It was very funny. If you're feeling like a Buddhist man, you may even enjoy it: Breakfast with Buddha.