Day 23 Nancy Thayer – Lifted Above the Ordinary

 Life is About More Than Just Survival

Island GirlsThe first written romances were medieval, involving knights, fair maidens, a quest, and chivalry. Men were valiant, strong, and courteous. Women were lovely, pure, and faithful.

Much has changed since then, and for the better, too. Women are no longer given away as dowry by their fathers to some hairy toothless landowner they’ve never met before. Men fight most of their battles in the legal court or vicariously through football and baseball, instead of stabbing each other with spears, and far fewer horses have to fall, which cheers me immeasurably. People in general live much longer lives, not dying in hideous pain from the plague, with leeches and blood-letting as part of their health routine, and best of all, many fewer women die in childbirth and suffer less from infections due to unwashed midwives’ hands.

And yet. . .who can resist the knight in shining armor daydream? Why do we still curl up with novels where men say to women: “I will love you until the end of time.”? (No amount of torture or seduction has made my husband say this to me, even after 30 years.) Why do women flock to romantic movies and read romantic books?

One theory—my theory, actually—is that these days, if we’re fortunate, we live very long lives, and our lives may be happy, healthy, and full, but still as human beings we’re genetically endowed with a desire as strong as our heartbeat to believe that life is about more than just survival.

Summer BreezeI believe every single one of us, male and female, has had at least one day in our lives, and probably more than one day, when we felt ourselves lifted above the ordinary, when we felt like a hero or a heroine, when we first kissed our one true love, when we achieved a goal we’d been struggling to attain. We can’t hope to have such moments often in our lives, but we can relive them, remember them, re-feel them, especially when we read books that move us to tears. And those moments of recalling, those souvenirs of pride, praise, and passion, help us get through the tough days, the blah days, help us remember why we’re alive.

The first romance I read was, of course, Cinderella. How timeless a tale, if not exactly accurate: we all get to leave our brooms and dustpans and be kissed by a prince, an event so wonderful we marry and live happily ever after, along with our brooms and dustpans.

The most recent best romance novel I’ve read isn’t even a “romance” novel. It’s a mystery called Learning to Swim by Sara Henry, which begins with a woman diving off a ferry into Lake Champlain to rescue a little boy. She is both hero and heroine in this novel, and she finds her fair share of princes.

My five-year-old granddaughter loves Cinderella. My grandson’s first request was to ask me for a sword. We’re born for a need for the quest, the hero kissing the heroine, the flowing banners, crimson capes, and golden crowns in our lives, and romance novels keep us happily supplied.



Questions for Nancy:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

The ugliest object in our house is, and I apologize for being so pedestrian, my iron. I have a lovely ironing board cover, but there’s no way to pretty up an iron, and it’s obvious why I keep it.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

The title of a movie about my life would be: How Did She Get to Be So Lucky? (Except for Her Frizzy Hair). Kate Middleton would play me and Tom Brady would play my husband, Charley. (Hey, this is romance, right?)

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

This is easy: my children and grandchildren.  And since I am romantic, I’ll add what I wrote for the acknowledgements to Island Girls:

“Finally, a brief explanation: I realize that in my novels women meet wonderful men on Nantucket. Truly, this is simply a matter of fiction imitating fact. Thirty years ago I came to Nantucket to visit a friend. She introduced me to Charley Walters. We’ve been married for over twenty-eight years, some of them relatively challenging, pun intended. Charley is my constant inspiration for all good men. He is my companion, my champion, my cavalier, and the steady center of my soul. Thank you, Charley. Maybe everyone should be an island girl, at least once.”

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

I recommend Ben and Natalie in my novel Summer Breeze for someone reading me for the first time. Ben literally rescues Natalie; they’re attracted to each other, but he’s a scientist and she’s an artist, so they have trouble communicating. I find the scene where he tries to explain his work to her toward the end of the book as incredibly sweet and romantic as a long embrace.

You are reading this essay at Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.  Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

Nancy is generously donating  an audiobook of Island Girls to U.S. readers (apologies to international readers). To enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 23 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

Nancy ThayerNancy Thayer is the author of twenty-three novels, including Summer House, The Hot Flash Club, Beachcombers, Heat Wave, Summer Breeze, and Island Girls, due out June 2013. Her books concern the mysteries and romance of families and relationships: marriage and friendships, divorce and love, custody and step parenting, family secrets and private self-affirmation, the quest for independence and the normal human hunger for personal connections.

Nancy Thayer has a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She was a Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. She has lived on Nantucket Island year-round for twenty-eight years with her husband Charley Walters. Her daughter is the novelist Samantha Wilde.

Buy Nancy’s Books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble


  • Nancy Huddleston

    Every little girl wants the white knight to save her from the mean dragon, so they can live happily ever after. Romance books give us this hope and an escape from everyday life.

  • Beth Re

    LOL My iron is not pretty but not because I use it that often.
    All little girls I think like to dress up as princesses

  • Kim Cornwell

    Well I’m happy to say my hubby has told me he will love me forever till the end of time. We were high school sweethearts at 14&16. We ill celebrate 33 years togther! I’ll never forget our first kiss. He is my sole mate! Romance books get me through the stress each day. Thanks for stopping by! Love meeting new authors!

  • Sue G.

    I enjoying reading the fairy tales…the happily ever afters. I just like feeling all warm and fuzzy afterwards.

  • mariannewestrich

    Romance is the vehicle of hope and escape that I love to take a ride in!

  • Melanie Backus

    Romance lives on in our hopes and our dreams, in our every day life if we are fortunate. To be loved is wonderful and to love sustains us for all time.

  • Tonda Galloway Hargett

    I love your inscription! It’s beautiful and heartwarming!

  • christinejensen

    We all innately want that happily ever after, don’t we?

  • Jen C

    Awww. 🙂

  • rebecca moe

    Great post! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Mary McCoy

    I expect hubby to rescue me, and he expects me to rescue him right back. And now I have an earworm of “Island Girls” in my head for the day.

  • Kareni

    Thanks for a fun post.

  • Martha Lawton

    Thank you for your novels! Last month you were our featured writer in my small book group. We all read Moon Snail Beach and then another one of your books. I read Beachcombers and Heat Wave. This week I was able to borrow Island Girls. I love reading about the Island of Nantucket and look forward to more of your novels.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Ann Mettert

    CINDERELLA is probably one of the first for everyone. 🙂 and we must continue to love it since there are so many books over the years that have used the same basic plot. 🙂

  • Meredith Richardson

    Love your books!!

  • Pamby50

    I love your books. I was walking through the library looking for a book to read when I saw your book The Hot Flash Club. I read it in a day. It was so true because I was just starting to hot flash.

  • Linda Logan

    Wonderful interview Nancy – your hair is just as lovely as the rest of you!!! Kate could never find a better role or role model!! God bless all our husbands (wives, partners), children and grand children and of course you know that my favorite scene from one of your books would be the wonderful doctor and Madaket in Belonging

  • Becky Rabalais

    Great article! Many thanks!

  • Britney Adams

    I LOVE Nancy Thayer’s novels! Wonderful!!! I also adore the acknowledgements to ISLAND GIRLS!!

  • Marcy Shuler

    My favorite Historicals are Medieval. Even though I wouldn’t actually want to live in that time (I’m much too fond of cleanliness) it still fascinates me. LOL

  • Laura Randall

    Thank you!

  • Kristen Pfister

    Should you have a yearning for medieval if you haven’t read already, I am sure you have, A Knight in Shining Armour by Jude Deveraux is my favorite. I have read it countless times over the past, ummmm 20 years, but it never disappoints. Sigh

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    You are so right about the evolution of the Romance genre, Nancy. And like Kristen Pfister who responded before me, I do love the early historicals of Jude Deveraux, but I also enjoy how her style and period novels have changed with the times.
    I look forward to reading your books soon.

  • I enjoy audiobooks. 🙂 Thank you for the giveaway. And thank you for stopping by and sharing with us. 🙂

  • Glenda

    It is interesting that so many popular romances are set in times when just surviving was a constant struggle. In reality, people probably had to fight for romance harder than we do today. Thank goodness times have changed, but the love of romance has not.

  • MaryC

    One niece loves dressing up , the other niece woud rather have sword.

  • reneeg

    Nancy – I’m not sure if I have read one of your books yet, but I know that I have read at least one of Samanatha Wilde’s. I’ll be looking for your name the next time I’m browsing for a book.

  • QuenKne M

    It sounds like you found your own prince charming!! Watch out Nantucket, there just might be a stampede of single women headed your way.

  • Ann

    Great post, thank you!

  • leah g

    After 13 years of waiting my sister finally had a little girl a couple years ago. Well actually she had been waiting her whole life but trying for 13 years. My niece (who is absolutely amazing of course!) is spoiled by my entire family, but my mom has this thing where she refuses to buy her princess things. She thinks that princesses and their tales aren’t good role models. She doesn’t want my niece sitting around waiting for her prince charming and thinking the only important things in life are pretty dresses and looks.
    I don’t agree, I think if anything just her existence proves that sometimes we have HEAs and that there is a place in everyone’s life for a little hope and love. And so what if you get a few pretty dresses along the way! Just because we have a little romance doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves!
    Anyway that’s a long way of saying I totally agree with you and thanks for sharing your post!

  • BookLady

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on romance. Cinderella was my first romance too and I still enjoy reading retellings of this classic fairytale.

  • Ketta Peters

    Wonderful post, thank you!

  • Brenda E

    Loved what you said about all us experiencing a time where we feel lifted above the ordinary. Great post.

  • Kim

    I love the casting for the movie! I like your theory of why we love romance novels. We’re all looking for more.

  • Larena Hubble

    I think part of the reason we love romances is because no matter what is going on in our own lives it gives us hope for an HEA and that anything is possible.

  • Karin Anderson

    You are a new-to-me author and after looking at this post I’ll definitely pick up one of your books!