I recently had a conversation with Oyceter about the conventions of romance in which I confessed that I love books where a girl has to pass as a boy. I’ve loved them ever since I was little. The book that set me off was These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer.
I don’t think the appeal of these books is mysterious. First of all, almost all of the books I loved were historicals. Most were (in one way or another) about how constrained the girls’ lives were. About all the things they couldn’t do and all the things they had to do, like marrying someone erky just because their father ordered them to. So for a girl character to be able to run around and get into sword fights she pretty much had to pretend to be a boy. I adored girls getting to have as much fun as the boys. It beat reading the books about boys’ adventures and pretending to myself that they were secretly girls. I always hated the books where the girl characters were only there to be rescued. I still do.
And not only does the convention allow for girls to do boy stuff it leads to also sorts of excellent misunderstandings. There’s a reason Twelfth Night is my favourite Shakespeare.
Holly Black and I once bonded over how much we love girls-passing-as-boys books. And now I know Oyceter loves them too. What about you guys? What are your favourite examples? I’ve just started reading Hana-Kimi and am enjoying it greatly.