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A Family Affair: Family and Feminism in Contemporary Irish Women’s Fiction

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Ateneo de Manila University
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Abstract

Despite the fact that the contemporary women’s fiction genre of chick litis most commonly considered in terms of its apparent focus on romanticrelationships, this paper suggests that these are not the only relationships thatchick lit heroines embark on. Examining a selection of specifically Irish chicklit novels, this paper explores how they present Irish families in the twentyfirstcentury, and discusses the genre’s demonstration of how the notion of“family” is changing for many Irish women who, no longer secluded andrepressed within the home as many Irish women once were, now increasinglyfind additional comfort and support from their “urban families”— thatis, their circle of friends. This paper examines the novels from a primarilyfeminist perspective, by discussing how the novels are providing womenwith a sense of identity and status within the family, and support outside thefamily in the form of strong female friendships, with extra theoretical supportfrom Adrienne Rich’s notion of the lesbian continuum, which places positiveemphasis on all of the women-centred relationships that women encounterthroughout their lives.

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