How To Know If You Are A Chick-Lit Heroine

Inspired by, and with apologies to, this piece of true brilliance from The Toast on how to know if you are in a Jane Austen novel (I love The Toast. Everyone should dip into it now and then in order to find out how many clichés they’re living with. And anyone who has ever had a group of female friends should read the “Hey Ladies” series) – I thought I would offer a bit of help to anyone who wishes to know if they are, in fact, a character in a Chick-Lit novel.

Generic Chick-Lit Cover

Borrowed, from my “Book Covers Are Judging Me” post

It always helps to know if your life is a work of fiction. You can thank me later.

So, here are 12 ways to determine whether you are a Chick-Lit Heroine*:

1. The people closest to you have all of the things you want.

2. You have exactly none of the things you want, but still manage to be an incurable optimist.

3. You are adorably disorganised, or fall over a lot. Sometimes both.

4. You hate yourself, but are simultaneously the most loving person you know.

5.  You believe that you are fat, ugly and stupid: you are therefore astonished when a succession of people (your best friends; co-workers; bosses; good-looking but unreliable men; and reliable men, whom you only realise are good-looking when it’s too late and it appears they’ve gone off you) tell you they think you are beautiful, smart and funny. However, you think every single one of them is lying.

6. Your mother is chronically inappropriate. She will either

a) Tell you about her sex life

b) Phone you at most inconvenient moments to belittle you, and/or complain about things which nobody should ever complain about

c) Do things which require you to parent either of your parents

7. You obsess about one or more of the following:

a) Shoes

b) Handbags

c) Shoes and Handbags

d) Handbags with Shoes on them

e) Designer Labels

f) Frizzy Hair

8. Lots of major and desirable life opportunities present themselves to you out of nowhere. However, you always manage to sabotage yourself with increasing degrees of hilarity. It does make for great stories in the pub, but secretly, you’re kind of dying inside.

9. Your best friend – at least, the one we’re focusing on for now – is a fiery, kooky sort. She wears huge amounts of eyeliner and swears at boys. She eventually finds love and softens into Zooey Deschanel.

10. Your job is a disaster. Just as things couldn’t get worse, and you are in the middle of a professional crisis of epic proportions (and also of your own making), a relatively contrived chance meeting results in the opening of your own business in a creative discipline (either cookery, clothing or chandlery). This business is a roaring success, the best of its kind, surprising nobody except you.

11. You are an independent woman who doesn’t care one whit for marriage or weddings. Unless someone close to you is getting married, or someone proposes to you. Then you care a whole damn lot.

12. The man you think you want is exactly the sort of man who makes you realise that the things you thought you wanted were the wrong things. This leads to the discovery of what you do in fact want, which is coincidentally, but not unhappily, the man who happens to want you.



1-3/12:     You are the heroine of a Marian Keyes novel

4-7/12:     You are the heroine of a Lauren Weisberger novel

8-12/12:   You are not actually real. You exist only in textual format. On the plus side, you’re about to have a gloriously happy ending


 Go on – I know I’ve missed another 20. Do you have a few more you can throw into the ring? Comments away!

*Incidentally, I want to stress that this is not a forum for Chick-Lit bashing. Two hours of good Chick-Lit in your armchair can feel like a two-week holiday somewhere gorgeous and can often be thematically richer than a hell of a lot of other book genres. But every genre is subject to stereotypes, which are the food of bloggers, and shall all therefore be dealt with in time 🙂 

  19 comments for “How To Know If You Are A Chick-Lit Heroine

  1. May 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm
  2. May 28, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I’m still chewing over number 12. I think you’ve covered them, except maybe for a subsection on guilty secrets (smoking, buying lottery tickets, writing fan letters to major Hollywood stars/Colin Firth) which you obsess over, but which in the end turn out to save your bacon. Personally, I see myself in a British 1930s film noir with regular mealtimes


    • May 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      Ooh guilty secrets! Of course! Well spotted. It’s also part of the fatal-flaw-which-isn’t-actually-fatal-or-a-flaw-and-rather-your-saving-grace family of characteristics, isn’t it? Like a mild overbite which is actually breathtakingly cute.
      You were right about no. 12. I know what I thought I meant so I amended it so that other people might think I knew what I thought I meant 😉

      And furthermore, I admire your fortitude. Personally I couldn’t even do 1930s noir with regular mealtimes. Each regular meal is merely going to consist of one lettuce leaf and a sherry, you know.


      • May 28, 2014 at 11:54 pm

        Yes, but the poses and the faraway meaningful looks…what’s not to like, plus dragging on those sexy cigarettes. And when Bette Davis (or Mrs Miniver) is off camera you can bet your life she’s down in the kitchen stuffing steak and kidney pie and trifle. (Possibly on the same plate)


        • May 29, 2014 at 7:49 am

          You have me now. The unutterable pleasures of smoking without having to think of your horrible death, and bulimia before anyone ever heard of it! Those 1930s sirens had it all!


  3. June 2, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Huh, I have 3, 6 and 9. Does it count if the best friend is a sister?


    • June 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Yes, it counts. Tenuous associations and implausible coincidences are also actively encouraged! A big hello to your sister!!


  4. July 14, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I truly adore this piece, Tara. What an absolute hoot. Cheers to you!


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