Book Review: Plundering the Romance Novel by Ionia Martin


Ah, spoofs. The comic genre that is the parody is as critical as it is funny, turning a lens on the stuff that we tend to take just way too seriously. I heartily enjoy over-the-top, “Surely you can’t be serious?” “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”, eye-rolling, face-palming, targeted comedies that sharply identify the tropes of a story type and go to town on them. 

Oh, yeah. Mama likey. 

So when I started reading Ionia Martin’s quick nosh on romance novel tropes, by page two my son was looking at me and asking what the hell I was laughing so hard about. And again, about ten minutes later. And again, five minutes after that. Have you ever tried explaining a trope, romance-related or not, out of context? And why you’re laughing so loudly that the neighbours are about to start complaining? I was having such a great time, I started live-tweeting the sections that made me hoot.

Ionia has the romance genre right on the mark. It’s like watching The Jewel of the Nile on helium — well, that opening scene, anyway. 

It’s a quick read, a good length for satire, and it’s terrific. I wish I could write a parody review for it, but I’m not sure I have the talent for that as much as Ionia Martin does, though I may have to try it tomorrow! I particularly love the meta-ness of the narrative — how Captain VD (heh heh) of the Fuzzy Beaver (snort) can appeal for do-overs from the Almighty Author, his reactions to a heroine who isn’t averse to having her bodice ripped and her body ravished, and the working over of basically everything we’ve come to expect from a period romance novel. I just love it.

Here, Ionia. In honour of Plundering the Romance Novel‘s excellence, I award you a second Fuzzy Beaver (and an Alan Thicke), because as we all know, two beavers are better than one. Thanks for the laughs — I’m definitely looking forward to your next one!


Urban (Suburban?) Winter Olympic Sports that I’d Like To See…

Grocery Cart Steeplechase
The Playing Field: a large flat parking lot covered in alternating patches of hard-packed and slushy snow, 5 cm deep.

Objective: Complete a circuit of parked cars with a heaping grocery cart without letting a bag fall off or hitting the side of a vehicle.

Points are scored for keeping on straight tracks, smoothness of cornering, and fastest arrival at the target vehicle.

Penguin Parkour
The Playing Field: a stretch of sidewalk downtown after the ploughs have gone by and left massive heaps of chunky snow piled over curbs, around fire hydrants, and covering benches.

Objective: Make it to a bank, a pharmacy, a gift shop, and pick up take-out without falling on the slippery sidewalk or street, using obstacles to propel yourself over the dangerous snowbanks.

Points are scored for creative use of fire hydrants, uncovered benches (even the edge), lamp posts, parked vehicles, baby strollers, and shopping bags in manoeuvring the body up, over, and around the snowbanks. Bonus points are awarded if no damaged is caused to these objects.

Freestyle Tandem Shovelling

The Playing Field: A double driveway with connecting walking path during a heavy snowfall.

Objective: Midway through the snowfall, partners take turns clearing the freshly fallen drifts before the snow plough comes by and re-buries half of the lower driveway.
Points are scored for grace, rhythm, synchronization, speed, and thoroughness. Double-points for scraping ice down to the original paved, dirt, stone, or gravel drive. Highest scores go to those who put their snow in the plough-away direction, so the majority is carted further down the street by the vehicle.

That’s it, that’s all I have for now. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments! Cheers!