Romance and Me: The National Clichés Part I

Filed in featured , Romance and Me , The Latin Lover Posted on August 7, 2013 @ 12:00 pm 13 comments

Hi Everyone!

Today we’ll be talking National Clichés! What are those you ask? Glad you asked! 😉 In (romance) novels there are some recurring tropes/acrs, like the Italian playboy, Greek magnate and Southern cowboy whose drawl will make the heroine melt. So I was curious to know: are these things accurate or purely romanticized? And who better to ask than people from those countries? So join us as we tackle some of these national clichés, and if you have some questions for our international Book Lovers Inc. team just leave them in a comment.

Jackie: I’ve been trying to think of any Canadian clichés I may have read about in books but while nothing specific comes to mind as far as the actual books go, one thing always pops up: Canadians are very nice. Plus we apologize for everything. I’m not sure how true this is exactly, but I’d like to think that we are all pleasant people here in the great white north. What does that do for the character of a hero in romance though, when we need a little naughty with our nice? Well, if you take a look at some of our exports to Hollywood, like Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling, or stars from Canadian TV shows that are making their mark elsewhere in the world, like Stephen Amell from Arrow and Kris Holden-Reid from Lost Girl, you’ll understand that there can be a whole lot of naughty too. I think this would make for a great combination of a guy that can turn up the heat while being consistent.

As for other potential clichés out there, like the use of the word “eh,” our national pastime of all hockey all the time, and our angsty girl music à la Alanis Morissette, those may be overstated quite a bit. (For an funny take on that last point, you need to see Cobie Smulders as Robin on How I Met Your Mother reveal her dark past and the obsession it held with another Canadian hottie.) We do not travel by snow shoe in the winter but I, for one, would be happy if “poutine” was picked as the #1 snack across Canada 🙂

Stella: The idea for this post came to me while I was browsing some of my favourite blogs. I am Hungarian, living in Budapest. Well Budapest is usually seen as a very exotic location for PNR books (Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series is set here for example), and usually have to do with vampires having a blast here (don’t ask me why lol). Also I haven’t come across any other kind of book/romance set in Hungary or the characters being Hungarian until now. On Smexy Books Mandi raved about the new Charlotte Stein book, Run to You, which features a sexy, domineering Hungarian (!) alpha hero. Naturally that grabbed my curiosity and I checked, and yep, he actually has a typical Hungarian name (János Kovács) – literally means John Smith ;-D, so now I’ll have to read the book and see how accurate or realistic her version of a Hungarian hero is.

Amanda: My only beef with Australian romance heroes is… there aren’t any.

I don’t actively look in the romance section for Australians so maybe I’m just missing out but in all other genres we aren’t mentioned. The only series that comes to mind is cat and bones because they were convicts which doesn’t really say much for my country.

The other series that comes to mind is the violet Eden chapters by Jessica shirvington but she’s an Australian writing about supernatural Australian kids in Australia so it’s normal. If you didn’t know it was set in Australia it could have been set anywhere just with different major City landmarks.

In movies we are always portrayed as country bogans on horseback or in rusty holden utes and people just can’t resist mentioning shooting a kangaroo. I’ve never shot a gun let alone shot one at a kangaroo. We’ve nearly hit one while driving up the coast once but the only other times I’ve seen any are in wildlife parks and I have to pay $1 for a small bag of feed to give them.

In movies our heroes are always dirty rugged assholes with lots of muscles and a well hidden softer side which is kind of a true portrayal for most of our (real) men… metrosexuals and men that use hair product and are afraid of getting their 50 dollar shirts dirty do not count towards anything in this conversation – they make up most of the reason why birth rates in normal people (not sixteen year old yahoos trying to get on tv) are going down.

But I want a bit more Tradie love and modern love in the cities. Stuff the country no one lives out there who doesn’t have to. Yes we have nice scenery but take two normal people from the city and make them drive out there. Don’t take bogans and tell the world that’s what we’re all like.

That’s my biggest beef with Australian stereotypes… people think we’re all kangaroo riding Country convicts and they (Americans mainly) come here and have major culture shocks because we’re actually normal people.

I will also say something for the kiwis because I am now an honorary one lol. According to the rest of the world they don’t seem to really exist. If you take an Australian and a kiwi to most places… people can’t tell the difference and if they weren’t so cut off from the world… they’d probably be quite miffed about it.

I will also say something for the scots because I am part Scottish as well… leave of with the fricking Highlands and their kilts jeez. There’s more to them than that. Why not have someone serenade their lover with some bagpipes. The history of it all is interesting but ultimately… apart from their severe aversion to the sun… they’re normal people as well. Perhaps they are the first vampires… you will know what I mean if you’ve seen a Scottish person spend more than 10 minutes in the Australian sun.. they end up resembling a crispy grilled tomato.

The Brits… well they smell (jokes jokes we have a lot of history there)

And the irish well I’ve never really seen them mentioned other than referring to fairies. But they should really refer more to their drunkenness and awesome humour.

For the record I can rail on all of those countries because I am half Australian and the rest of my blood comes from england Ireland Scotland and a bit from Germany but I’ll leave Germany up to Susi 🙂 And as of next year I’ll be a permanent resident of new Zealand.


How are your country/people represented in books?

Any national clichés that are either true or make you roll your eyes?

Any misconceptions, prejudices concerning your country/people that is untrue or ridiculous?

Any hero/heroine names that are so inaccurate it makes you laugh?

Any foreign words in books that are grammatically incorrect or misspelled?

Tell us to share a laugh with us! 😉

About Stella

Stella is a proud bookaholic and a self-taught multilinguist in training. Besides reading, her other great passions are travelling and baking. When she is not globetrotting she lives in sunny Budapest, where she loves to spend her free time preparing (and feasting on) delicious cookies or devouring equally yummy books. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy and romance and she couldn't live without her daily dose of sunshine. Besides being the Latin Lover on BLI Stella also blogs about books and a bookish life on Ex Libris.

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  • Ora August 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Amanda, I would recommend Sarah Mayberry. Out of the three books that I have read, two have Australian heros that aren’t cliches that you described. Hot Island Nights and Within Reach. Also Shona Husk’s Shadowland series. The heros are too old to be Australian, however it does take place in Perth and the outlining area.
    I was born and raised in Califronia. I get frustrated with that heros are either from the Bay area or SoCal. It seems the only heros from California work in the movie industry or are some real estate millionaire. Sometimes I wonder if some authors have actually been to California before setting their book there. It seems people are surprised when I tell them California isn’t just one big megalopolis. There is more to California than those two areas. I think people forget that California is part of the West and we have cowboys. It seems most books I read about cowboys are set in Texas.
    I do love that Karen Erickson has a few books that she took inspiration from Bass Lake (it’s right below Yosemite) creating her fictional town. I think I love those books more because I used to spend summers up there and it reminds of me of home.

  • miki August 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    hum i never encountereda character from belgium as of yet^^ but i’m curious ( though we do appears in several tv show ( ex les experts miami , law & order) ^^ often it’s the one working with diamonds^^ ( no not everybody is in this industry) and it’s AnverS not anver for the city of diamonds^^

  • blodeuedd August 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I have read many Aussie harlequins, aw loved those 😉

    Anyway Finland…have you read about any Finnish heroes, heroines…no? Well there are none, we are the forgotten people. But I am sure that if there was one he would be named Jukka or Pekka and I would be all *big eye roll*

    • Amanda August 14, 2013 at 1:01 am

      See I steer clear of the Harlequins, I need gritty bloody mess. Which the Americans offer up in droves…and the smexy times just seem to be a staple with all of their paranormal stuff.

      Straight romance doesn’t do it for me.

  • Susan August 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I’m glad Ora mentioned Mayberry and Husk. A lot of Old Skool authors, in particular–like Victoria Holt–had Australian settings and characters. A quick Google search turns up quite a few others–some I’m familiar with, but others not. I don’t know how accurate the portrayals are, of course, but I think I need to add some books to the wish list now!

    It sounds like a lot of nationalities are very underrepresented, so there’s not even a chance to get things wrong! Maybe Harlequin could expand their line to include some of these locations, the way they’re doing for India. I’d be interested.

    I guess I identify with the American South (altho I’ve lived all over the place). Don’t even get me started on that. The characterizations are usually pretty offensive, actually. And forget about the ridiculous accents in movies/TV. (I think Brits actually do a better job with Southern accents than non-Southern American actors.)

    • Ora August 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      I definitely agree with Brits doing a better job. Bill Moyer From True Blood is a perfect example along with South African actor Ryan Kwanten.

      • Susan August 8, 2013 at 12:07 am

        Yes. And Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead. My family didn’t believe me when I told them he was English. They seem more willing to put the work into it to get it right.

      • Amanda August 14, 2013 at 12:55 am

        Ryan Kwanten is an Aussie 🙂

        I think he is so awesome on True Blood! Such a magnificent actor

        He was Vinnie on Home and Away

  • aurian August 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I though Keri Arthur was Australian? And I have read some nice Annie West books. The biggest New Zealand author is of course Nalini Singh, whom we all love and adore. And your hero, how about Crocodile Dundee? He is fun to watch! lol.
    And let me have my highlanders in kilts please 😉

    Dutch heroes? No idea. But we do not walk on wooden shoes anymore, except for some farmers perhaps, we don;t all frequent the coffeeshops in town (I hate the smell of burning weed) but yes, we do like our cheeses and tulips 🙂

    And Miki, your most famous character is of course Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie.

    • Amanda August 14, 2013 at 12:59 am

      Nalini Singh’s a kiwi?!?!

      I don’t really check where most of my authors are from which is probably why I come up blank whenever I’m asked. But I haven’t read Keri Arthur, I have read Garth Nix though. He’s good.

  • Sheree August 9, 2013 at 2:25 am

    Ooh… Paul Marron in a kilt….

  • Ren August 12, 2013 at 3:37 am

    It’s so rare to find any character from Indonesia. The first Indonesian character I read is from Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling, but it just mentioned so briefly. The next Indonesia term is from Lover Avenged, when Ehlena’s favorite food is sambal (spicy sauce from Indonesia).

    Imagine my surprise when I read about Dali from Kate Daniels series. When she first met Kate and Kate wonder what “nese” Dali’s heritage was, and Dali answer “Indonesian”. I’m laughing, but with a joy. Finally, an Indonesian character that make an important part in the stories.

    But, not without complaint. I wonder what kind of names of Dali. It’s unusual name for Indonesian, and of course unique. I totally must google what Dali means, and what I got is Salvador Dali (duh!). Also, her appearance is petite. Are we, Indonesian women seems so small for Caucasian people. For national cliche, umm no. Dali is unique and I can’t said she present what Indonesian women will act, but I still love to see her. I also congrats Ilona Andrews to write about her, lol!

    • Stella August 12, 2013 at 4:32 am

      Glad to hear you finally encountered an Indonesian character Ren, I know the surprise and giddiness when you discover a character of your nationality in a book 😀

      ps. as to your question, yes in general I would say for us Caucasian people we tend to imagine/consider most Asian people rather slim-boned and petite.

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