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A reviewer & the complexities of genre

1967 Johnson with Kosygin

President Johnson meets with Russian Premier Kosygin 1967

I don’t think What You Don’t Know Now should be considered a romance novel. It’s really commercial women’s fiction. But these days, genres are getting more complex. Two reviewers have pointed this out so far.

Twitter has always been good to me. Years ago, I became connected with a peep and enjoyed her smart tweets and interaction. It turned out she’s a PhD MLS [a professor and a librarian], and when I asked for reviews on Twitter, she responded.

What I loved about both reviews (the other was from Carol White Llewellyn, who hosted me on her TV show Conversations With Creatives watch it here) was that each recognized that WYDKN contains elements of history and cultures, woven into a plot that included a romance. But it went deeper.

The 1960’s – via shows like Mad Men and certain movies — are starting to be called “period pieces.”

1967 – the year for this novel’s setting – is nearly 50 years ago. So among other things, WYDKN is also a period piece, but without the corsets and bustles.

Maybe a simple, clear-cut genre helps a book’s sales. Or a more complex genre-crossing helps. I don’t know. I just wanted to write a great story. So far, reviews have been favorable.

Here’s the latest review, by Melissa E. Travis, PhD., MLS — and I thank her for reading my novel and giving me her thoughts:

Marci Diehl’s book, What You Don’t Know Now, was fun and enjoyable to read. The setting in mid-1960s sifts through cultural and historical questions of the time.

Writing a review for it was a bit more complex for me because I had to think about the audience reading this book. The book isn’t quite suited for a young adult readership though the protagonist, 18-year-old Bridey, is coming of age and struggles with young adult challenges and some sexual circumstances. The struggle is especially significant because it reflects the struggle and questions of the era. It is also not quite a history book yet the accuracy and cultural awareness in Diehl’s is stunning.

Set in the Vietnam War period in the late 1960’s, it invites readers a peek into the secret worlds of spies and foreign opera singers. Author Diehl balances this coming of age romantic fiction with the political international complexities of the time. Diehl highlights cultural perspectives, and what it was like to tour through Europe only relying on travel agents before the era of ratings and online discussion forums.

Soldiers who volunteer for war pit their views against the young “liberal” views of the protagonist, who is determined that American soldiers shouldn’t be dying. These perspectives might be echoed today.

The backdrop of Bridey’s elusive uncle, who works for some embassy in the Middle East and requires a bodyguard, sets a tone of international upheaval. His concerns are even more global than the current Vietnam War. All the while, our protagonist Bridey flirts and comes into her own sexual freedom.

Marci Diehl captures a nuanced tone in her writing of historical accuracy, the move to adulthood during a tumultuous time, and cultural beliefs of a small-town educated family in the Vietnam War era. Diehl’s characters bring you in and her narrative captures the essence of the time.