The Psychology of Romance Novels or Period Dramas

There are plenty of articles on the Internet from psychology resources that state romance novels are bad for women. Some say these books give women unrealistic expectations when it comes to romance and can damage real-life relationships. Perhaps the psychologists think it’s mental porn for women, somewhat like the damage visual porn inflicts on the male species. There’s also another camp that says romance movies are bad for you as well. (Let’s all stick our heads in the sand so no fantasy touches our lives.) Here are a few for your reading enjoyment:

You Won’t Believe How Romance Novels Affect the Psychology of Women (“Leading psychologists are of the opinion that romantic novels can have a huge impact on the psychology of women; sometimes, making it unhealthy for relationships.”)

The Allure of Romance – Why do romance novels sell so well? (Psychology Today says, “And that reason could be that romance novels give women something they need, and do it in a way that the world around us cannot.”)

Are Romance Movies Bad for You? (“Researchers are beginning to ask whether the make-believe world projected in “rom-coms” might actually be preventing true love in real life.”)

In today’s world, there are many other avenues of fantasy that readers take besides romance novels. Readers whisk themselves away in sci-fi planetary adventures or magical make-believe realms with dragons. Are these psychologically damaging as well because it’s not reality? I dare say in this day and age, humans need to escape reality occasionally either in books or film. As we deal with climate change, pandemics, wars, racial strife, and the other ailments of the world, it makes sense to take our minds elsewhere. If we don’t take a step outside reality for a few minutes, we’d all end up in more psychologist’s chairs doing therapy.

Many women read historical romance – both married and unmarried. In fantasy they read their duke-centric historical romance, daydreaming about calling the hero “Your Grace” and being swept off their feet in the Regency era. When the bookmark is placed or the eReader turned off, they lift their eyes to see their husband in a tee-shirt and blue jeans and sigh. The question is does it affect their marriage or does the affection they hold in the world of reality remain? I’m laughing as I write this because, in all honesty, I think most women accept the reality of life but enjoy the soothing thoughts of something a bit different between the words of a romance novel.

On the other hand, there are plenty of unmarried women in no relationship whatsoever. Do historical romance books raise their expectations too high when looking for a man, or does it actually fill a need in their lives to fantasize about what it would be like to be loved. I dare say it fills a void.

In the end, anything we do can lead to unhealthy addictions, but psychologists declaring with certainty that romance novels or romance films are bad for our mental health is a bit of an overstatement. Mentally healthy women can grip reality and “not allow their real life’s happiness to hang in the balance over a fictional character.” ( I found this beautiful quote from someone in Facebook’s Sanditon group, attempting to bring calm to the masses who have lost their senses over Theo James not returning.)

Romantic stories have been around for centuries. Did anyone complain to Shakespeare that his story of Romeo and Juliet was contributing to the high number of suicides by star-crossed lovers? Were Jane Austen’s novels deemed unhealthy for women for the past two hundred years?

Chime in. Why do you read historical romance or enjoy period dramas in film or television? Escape? Relaxation? Daydreaming? Pure enjoyment? What deep psychological need does it fulfill in your life? As Jane Austen once said, “The person, be it a gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

"Far From the Madding Crowd" – Period Drama Movie

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, and Tom Sturridge
At last, Far From the Madding Crowd finally released in a handful of theaters in Portland. I have agonized for months, fearing I would not see it on the big screen. However, fate allowed me the opportunity, and I’m so glad that I took advantage even though the drive through traffic nearly gave me a nervous breakdown.

If you are looking for a sumptuous and gorgeously filmed period drama, I don’t think you will be disappointed. The musical score is wonderful, too, and I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks on Amazon Cloud.  Hearing the music attached to the story only made me appreciate the score even more.

If you know nothing about Tom Hardy’s novel written in 1874, you will undoubtedly enjoy the story as it unfolds on the screen.  I had never read the book or seen earlier movie versions.  (Yes, sometimes it appears that I’ve lived under a rock all my life.)

However, if you have read the novel, you should be fairly pleased at how closely it mirrors the original book, taking into consideration an entire novel has been scrunched into a two-hour film.  It has a fairly high tomato meter of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The four main characters portrayed by Carey Mulligan (Bathsheba Everdene), Matthias Schoenaerts (Gabriel Oak), Michael Sheen (William Boldwood), and Tom Sturridge (Frank Troy), were all well casted in their roles.  Carey is a brilliant actress who settled perfectly into the strong-willed young woman.  Her three suitors were equally wonderful in their roles, showing depth and emotion to their characters.

The story centers around Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and pretty young lady who inherits her uncle’s farm. She has no need of a husband, so she says, and doesn’t think any man could ever tame her.  Of course, in those days if she married her wealth and farm would no longer belong to her but to her husband.

As the story first unfolds, she meets Gabriel Oak, a shepherd who falls for Miss Everdene. After an early proposal in their relationship, she refuses even though he owns his own farm. An unfortunate twist in fate overtakes his life, and Gabriel loses everything he owns. Eventually, he becomes one of her employees at her newly inherited farm and their roles have switched. Gabriel Oak continues to yearn for her heart.

Bathsheba intends to astound everyone as she takes control of her new life and catches the eye of another man who is her neighbor. He too swiftly falls for her and proposes marriage, but once again she refuses saying she does not need a husband. The brokenhearted Mr. Boldwood continues to hope, but his hopes are swiftly dashed when the woman he loves meets the dashing Sergeant Frank Troy.

The independent woman is swept off her feet by a pretty-boy in a red uniform. Handsome yes, but his character leaves much to be desired. Gabriel warns her of his ways and to stay clear, but she will hear nothing of it.
Love is blind, and Bathsheba falls hard for the handsome soldier.  Played by Tom Sturridge, he is the epitome of male perfection compared to the middle-aged Mr. Boldwood.  One kiss and one seductive touch of her womanhood while making out in the woods, and the heroine is putty in his hands.

Eventually, through her mistakes and a tragic outcome, she learns a difficult lesson that she does indeed need a man who has been at her side all along. So who does she pick — the strong quiet type, the rich nobleman of a neighbor, or the handsome pretty boy in red?  You’ll have to find out for yourself.

I won’t tell you anything else about the storyline in case you’ve been hiding under a rock too. No need to spoil a good flick.  If you have the chance, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at this beautifully filmed movie set in the English countryside and coastline.

The romance sweetly ends leaving a satisfied outcome.  I thoroughly enjoyed being tucked away in the theater for two hours and far from the madding crowd outdoors to watch this splendid period drama.

“Far From the Madding Crowd” – Period Drama Movie

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, and Tom Sturridge
At last, Far From the Madding Crowd finally released in a handful of theaters in Portland. I have agonized for months, fearing I would not see it on the big screen. However, fate allowed me the opportunity, and I’m so glad that I took advantage even though the drive through traffic nearly gave me a nervous breakdown.
If you are looking for a sumptuous and gorgeously filmed period drama, I don’t think you will be disappointed. The musical score is wonderful, too, and I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks on Amazon Cloud.  Hearing the music attached to the story only made me appreciate the score even more.

If you know nothing about Tom Hardy’s novel written in 1874, you will undoubtedly enjoy the story as it unfolds on the screen.  I had never read the book or seen earlier movie versions.  (Yes, sometimes it appears that I’ve lived under a rock all my life.)

However, if you have read the novel, you should be fairly pleased at how closely it mirrors the original book, taking into consideration an entire novel has been scrunched into a two-hour film.  It has a fairly high tomato meter of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The four main characters portrayed by Carey Mulligan (Bathsheba Everdene), Matthias Schoenaerts (Gabriel Oak), Michael Sheen (William Boldwood), and Tom Sturridge (Frank Troy), were all well casted in their roles.  Carey is a brilliant actress who settled perfectly into the strong-willed young woman.  Her three suitors were equally wonderful in their roles, showing depth and emotion to their characters.

The story centers around Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and pretty young lady who inherits her uncle’s farm. She has no need of a husband, so she says, and doesn’t think any man could ever tame her.  Of course, in those days if she married her wealth and farm would no longer belong to her but to her husband.
As the story first unfolds, she meets Gabriel Oak, a shepherd who falls for Miss Everdene. After an early proposal in their relationship, she refuses even though he owns his own farm. An unfortunate twist in fate overtakes his life, and Gabriel loses everything he owns. Eventually, he becomes one of her employees at her newly inherited farm and their roles have switched. Gabriel Oak continues to yearn for her heart.
Bathsheba intends to astound everyone as she takes control of her new life and catches the eye of another man who is her neighbor. He too swiftly falls for her and proposes marriage, but once again she refuses saying she does not need a husband. The brokenhearted Mr. Boldwood continues to hope, but his hopes are swiftly dashed when the woman he loves meets the dashing Sergeant Frank Troy.
The independent woman is swept off her feet by a pretty-boy in a red uniform. Handsome yes, but his character leaves much to be desired. Gabriel warns her of his ways and to stay clear, but she will hear nothing of it.

Love is blind, and Bathsheba falls hard for the handsome soldier.  Played by Tom Sturridge, he is the epitome of male perfection compared to the middle-aged Mr. Boldwood.  One kiss and one seductive touch of her womanhood while making out in the woods, and the heroine is putty in his hands.

Eventually, through her mistakes and a tragic outcome, she learns a difficult lesson that she does indeed need a man who has been at her side all along. So who does she pick — the strong quiet type, the rich nobleman of a neighbor, or the handsome pretty boy in red?  You’ll have to find out for yourself.

I won’t tell you anything else about the storyline in case you’ve been hiding under a rock too. No need to spoil a good flick.  If you have the chance, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at this beautifully filmed movie set in the English countryside and coastline.

The romance sweetly ends leaving a satisfied outcome.  I thoroughly enjoyed being tucked away in the theater for two hours and far from the madding crowd outdoors to watch this splendid period drama.