We see him typing away at his laptop and reading from one of his books on the soundtrack: "She unbuckled his belt and slid his trousers downward. He was wearing dark, grey boxers — his need for her instantly apparent. Initially, the tone seems playful and gently mocking.
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However, an undercurrent of yearning and disappointment is very obvious too. The more we learn about these characters, the darker their lives seem. This is a film about loneliness and isolation as well as the pleasures of bodice-ripping fiction. Even the good-looking, narcissistic male model Stephen whose image adorns the cover of over romances isn't content. They're quick to read. A lot of the readers say they're a real escape. In London, I met accountants, lawyers and all sorts of women. They were different ages. Some were really well educated. They said they just liked getting home at the end of the day and escaping into a quick, easy read that makes them feel happy and warm at the end.
The most popular is the Modern series. That was my favourite. It was the most glamorous, the most far-fetched.
The heroes are always billionaires or princes. The cars are glamorous. The worlds in which they are set are very far from reality. I enjoyed many of Roger's. And then there is the Blaze series , the more erotic ones, and the historical ones. The publishers who were taken over by Harlequin Enterprises in the early s but maintained their identity were open and helpful, putting the filmmaker in touch with their writers as well as some of their most devoted readers around the world.
I thought it was important editorially to maintain some kind of independence. They've seen the final film and they've given it their blessing but we're not in partnership. She learned from her visual anthropology studies that to win the trust of her subjects, she needed to be utterly frank with them. Off camera, we were spending time together. I was sharing my life with them.
It wasn't just me interrogating them about their lives and asking them all about their relationships. Japanese and Indian readers consume the same stories as their European counterparts. In Japan, however, you can buy beautifully illustrated "manga" comic versions of the novels. Women in Tokyo read the books on their mobile phones. Invariably, the heroes and heroines are white Westerners. In Japan, Moggan points out, many women cling to the illusion that Western men are exactly as portrayed in the books: rugged, chivalrous types.
They had very high expectations. They'd say, 'you're so lucky.
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The men in the West are continually saying 'I love you' and buying you chocolate and flowers'. I obviously put them straight on that! In India, Moggan discovered, the men like to read the novels too. Moggan believes that these men "were just as interested in love and falling in love as the women. They just have different ways of expressing that but I felt that all the men I met were yearning for love just as much as their wives and girlfriends. The director was heartened by the way the couples she filmed were sometimes able to "bring elements from the romance novels into their real lives".
More often, though, the gulf between the magical, escapist world of the novels and that of everyday existence simply can't be bridged. You notice the number of times the film shows kettles boiling or characters doing the cooking and washing up. The novels may be all chocolate and champagne but the reality for their readers is more likely to be fried eggs and Brillo pads. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?
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Blaze: Guilty Pleasures by Cathy Yardley -
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