What are the characteristics of romantic novels?

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It has been said that romantic literature depicts life as it should be, while realistic literature depicts life as it is. This is as good a basic definition of a romantic novel as we might find.

In romance novels, no matter how perilous or uncertain the plot seems at certain points, we can depend on an uplifting, if not always happy, ending. A romance novel also involves a love affair of some sort, and most generally, the two lovers end up united at the end, all obstacles overcome. Even if they don't, the ending has an upbeat, inspirational quality, as one lover nobly sacrifices himself or herself for the other lover or for a heroic cause. In Agatha Christie's romance, The Rose and the Yew , for example (written under Christie's pen name Mary Westmacott), the female lover, though terrified of dying, takes a...

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