Jojo Moyes explains why she has a problem with the ‘chick lit’ label

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Moya Crockett
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The author is known for her romantic novels – but says she finds the ‘chick lit’ label “reductive and disappointing”.  

Bestselling author Jojo Moyes says she finds it frustrating when novels by women are given overtly feminine covers and labelled as ‘chick lit’.

In a new interview, Moyes – the author of novels including Me Before You and Still Me – explained why she dislikes the name of the genre.

“So many women who write about quite difficult issues are lumped under the ‘chick lit’ umbrella,” she told the BBC. “It’s so reductive and disappointing – it puts off readers who might otherwise enjoy them.”

Moyes added that while her books have reached “a wider audience”, novels by women are often grouped together and given unappealingly saccharine covers.

“If it was up to me, we would all discover things in a huge massive jumble,” she said. “The boundaries are being blurred with women writing domestic noir and thrillers.

“I want to see covers that are a bit more gender neutral. Supermarkets wanted things that are easily categorised, but people don’t want to read something pink and glittery.

“My favourite covers are just words on the front cover in very nice fonts, with just a tiny image, and it’s no coincidence that I have a lot more male readers who aren’t being put off.”

Jojo Moyes (right) with Emilia Clarke, the star of the film adaptation of Me Before You

While she is pleased that her books are also read by men, Moyes said she feels a duty to present positive messages to her female audience. Many of her novels explore themes of love and relationships, and she is reluctant to perpetuate certain myths and stereotypes.

“I find myself thinking more and more that as a writer you have a responsibility to think about what messages you send, especially if you have a readership with a high proportion of young women,” she said.

“I don’t want to feed into the idea that getting married is going to fix everything, or buying a handbag or pair of designer shoes. I might not be able to fix society’s ills, but I can try not to be part of the problem.”

In an apparent nod to the Fifty Shades franchise and the #MeToo movement, Moyes added: “I want to have a conversation where women’s romantic behaviour is not governed by someone else, coerced, controlled or bought by fancy cars and helicopter rides.

“We’re in a weird time for relationships between men and women and I would rather emphasise that you want to have a good time with them rather than a deeply problematic relationship.”

Images: Getty Images