I have been wanting to write a book about feminist bestsellers for years. In fact, when my PhD was nearing completion and I had my first meeting with an academic publisher, I pitched two proposals — one on Second Wave thought and one on the relationship between the Women’s Movement and novels such as Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (1973), Lisa Alther’s Kinflicks (1976), and Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room (1977). The publisher plumped for the first proposal,1 which was probably very sensible since at the time I had no clear overall plan for the other project; just a sense that these writers were engaging in a dialogue with the Women’s Movement without getting much of a response. There was little work on these writers at the time (the early 1990s) and feminist critics were only really beginning to take a broad interest in popular women’s fiction at all. By the time I finished my first book, other, more achievable, projects came along and the original proposal lay in its buff folder until the turn of the new century. By then other critics had written on this and related topics and in writing this book I am grateful to be able to draw on the assiduous research and insightful thinking of Maria Lauret and Lisa Maria Hogeland, who both produced books covering many of the issues which had sparked my interest in this topic, not to mention other critics, such as Maroula Joannou, Gayle Greene, and Lorna Sage, whose work was also of direct relevance to me. Collectively their work allows me to move the debate forwards in a new direction, since there is certainly no need to write a book which covers much of the same ground.
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