European Unions

By Laura Vivanco on Tuesday, 13 November, 2012

Just over twenty years ago Mills & Boon published

the first title in our new series of romances which we've chosen to celebrate 1992, a special year of European unity. We're sure that you'll [...] look forward to a novel each month which has that unique flavour of romance, European-style! (Editor's introduction to Steele)

The Euromance series lasted for over a year and while it did it took the reader to some European countries which rarely feature in romance novels. Charlotte Lamb's Deadly Rivals (1995), set partly in Greece, wasn't in the series but there's a short scene, in which the heroine discusses nationalism and the EU with a couple of secondary characters, that reminded me of the Euromance's pro-European attitude:

[...] If there is one thing we Greeks know about, it is ships. We were sailing the seven seas before the British stopped using coracles!’ Christos was half joking, half serious.

Chauvinist!’ teased Olivia and he laughed, a little flushed but defiant.

Well, why not? We all have our national pride, don’t we? You can’t say Britain doesn’t!’

True,’ she said seriously. ‘But we’re all Europeans now. I can’t wait for the day when we stop talking about our national pasts and start looking to our shared future.’

Christos grimaced at her. ‘Maybe we should but whether or not we ever will is anybody’s guess. Old habits die hard. I think the tribal instinct in all of us is the real problem. It’s in our genetic blueprint; we can’t argue ourselves out of it.’

Argue yourselves out of what?’ a sharp voice asked from behind him. [...]

Olivia and I were just talking politics,’ said Christos cheerfully. ‘I guess you could call it that. She’s a strong European – I’m not so sure it is going to work, politically.’

Economics is what the common market is all about, Gerald coldly informed him, his tone, his manner, leaving no room for discussion. ‘And it has to work, for all our sakes. [...]’ (98-99)

It's more than a little bittersweet to read in 2012 given that:

Greek flagGreece has spent the past two years on a financial life-support that has kept its government ticking over, but which has destroyed its economy and pushed its entire democracy to the brink of collapse. [...] The price of the severest austerity programme ever imposed on postwar western Europe has been severe. Greece's economy is in severe depression [...]. Unemployment has skyrocketed, with one in two young people out of work.

Extreme policies in; extremist politics out. From being a rump just three years ago, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn now effectively polices parts of Athens and has infiltrated the official police force. (Editorial, The Guardian)

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Editorial. "Greece's austerity: democracy tested to destruction." The Guardian. Thursday 8 November 2012.

Lamb, Charlotte. Deadly Rivals. Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon, 1995.

Steele, Jessica. Hungarian Rhapsody. Richmond, Surrey: Mills & Boon, 1992.

 

The EU flag was made available for download by EUROPA. The image of the Greek flag was made available under a Creative Commons licence and was created by Philly boy92.

The austerity debacle in Europe feels somehow worse with the realization economists had screamed about it, and pointed out it had NEVER worked, and yet were ignored. Austerity just opens the door for extremist parties to gain power. If an extremist party gets into power, it will crush people in order to STAY in power. The whole thing makes my stomach ache.

In romance-land, though, things will probably carry on operating more or less as usual. Perhaps there'll be more quick asides about how the hero's business is thriving despite the economic problems, or perhaps a few more imaginary European principalities will be invented. Most (all?) of the sheikhs already live in imaginary places. I think the laws of economics in romance are probably not dissimilar to

Cartoon physics [...] a jocular system of laws of physics that supersedes the normal laws, [...] Many of the most famous American animated films, particularly those from Warner Bros. and MGM studios, unconsciously developed a relatively consistent set of such "laws" that have become regularly applied in comic animation. In a common cartoon scenario, for example, when a cartoon character runs off a cliff gravity has no effect until the character notices and reacts. (Wikipedia)

Wonder if that works for fiscal cliffs too?