Analysing Sidney Sheldon’s Illustrious Heroines [#MondayMusings] [#MondayBlogs] [#MicroblogMondays]

I’ve read nearly all of Sidney Sheldon’s books. Not “nearly”, I have read them all. (Not Tilly Bagshawe’s books because I can’t make out what she is, a fanfic writer or something else? Anyway, irrelevant to this post) If you’ve noticed Sidney Sheldon was famous for his powerful, beautiful, strong female protagonists. Once you get author fatigue (phrase origin: hoping I coined it. Meaning: a condition where you have read so many books of an author (and his/her formulaic fiction) that you start predicting the plot no matter how different the setting is.) and study the man’s work, you’ll know they were all rags to riches tales.

How did these women go from rags to riches? Were they intelligent? Smart? Strangely, they were all naive at the beginning. They got pregnant, raped, wrongly arrested, conned, whathaveyou. These incidents always turned them into the cunning, ruthless seductresses that they were later on in the tales.

That verily is the key word here. All of his heroines were seductresses, and nothing more. Sure, maybe it takes some level of intelligence to seduce high profile men, I suppose, but we are forced to draw parallels between Sheldon’s men and Sheldon’s women (that sentence came out wrong!)

In one of his books, I think it was The Best Laid Plans (which I always disliked for its rather anti-climactic ending), there’s a line, “If you are beautiful and have a vagina, you can rule the world.” If you look at the men, tycoons, businessmen, mafia dons etc. they all had dicks. Some were dicks. But that wasn’t the reason they were ruling the world. Their histories were perfectly laid out maps of cunning design, loss, sacrifices, and ultimate success. Not once did they have to sleep with someone to get a job or to get places. Sheldon’s imagination seems quite fertile when portraying the rags to riches stories of men.

But with women, there was just one route – be hot, then just do it. It begs the question, are women incapable of achieving anything without having to sleep with someone? We know that isn’t true. But think of it from a naive, easily impressionable reader’s perspective: the message coming across is a woman can only be successful if she pawns herself out. Not a very healthy message or even a true message when coming from a successful writer whose stories are centered around female protagonists. Even the alien from Doomsday Conspiracy got that same message!

His books are still very popular, among teens as well as adults. To be fair, the man’s books were good works of fiction (If Tomorrow Comes is listed in my top ten favourites). Fast-paced, page-turners, all of them. His characters (ironically) are unforgettable. But I do think girls need a better role model than Noelle Page.

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8 thoughts on “Analysing Sidney Sheldon’s Illustrious Heroines [#MondayMusings] [#MondayBlogs] [#MicroblogMondays]

  1. I'm an ex-Sydney Sheldon fan. As you rightly said it might have been author fatigue or maybe I just outgrew him. To be fair I did love his books – If Tomorrow Comes, Other Side of Midnight, Master of the Game – I had lot of favourites. You have a point about his heroines. Perhaps he does believe that it's easier for a woman to sleep her way to the top than to plot and plan any other way. Weird thought though!

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  2. Thank you for using the phrase “Author Fatigue”; I really, really hope it catches on 😛 😛 (mini attempt at fame, here!)
    Yes, I also have my favourites, but it is sad that his women had only one route to success, unlike his men!

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  3. I have read three … only three of Sydney Sheldon't book and that was more than enough for me to take 😛 I like The other side of midnight out of them. I am more of Girl with dragon Tattoo reader, that is the second best series in my list.

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  4. Yeah, I read his books as a teenager who didn't know better! Had I read them today, I don't think I would have read any more than three books myself.
    Yes, Stieg Larsson is really good. Tests a bit of my patience, but I like the dark storytelling style.

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  5. Sreesha, I can be your sister here. I have read almost all books of Sidney Sheldon and he can write super-thrillers. I have enjoyed all his books except perhaps the 'The Best Laid Plans' which I couldnt finish. It didnt have the Sidney Sheldon feel. But more than Noelle Page, I liked the Rage of Angels and If Tomorrow comes. But your theory on his heroines are spot on.

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  6. The Best Laid Plans could have been a good book, but he went so overboard with the twist that it turned out rather anti-climactic and unfair.
    I dislike Noelle Page and The Other Side Of Midnight too. The whole book was a study in shallowness!

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