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In the entry, Theme-Plot-Character-Worldbuilding Integration Part 11 - Arranging Marriages,
we discussed the TV Series, Shtisel, made in Israel, in Hebrew with English subtitles.
The title, Shtisel, is after the Shtisel family it follows through the harrowing issue of arranging marriages amidst a secular culture in Jerusalem.
It is reminiscent of the Chaim Potok novel about a talented artist, MY NAME IS ASHER LEV.
But Potok wrote in novel style, and was thus able to address deep and far reaching nuances of his theme about family and the misfit artist.
I noted that, as a TV Series, Shtisel couldn't do that and stay on the air.
Here, I want to point you to a series I've talked about before, by Marshall Ryan Maresca, set in his fictional/fantasy city of Maradaine.
He has crafted a series of series -- focusing on different levels, layers, and professions that make up a huge, sprawling port city.
Here are previous discussions of this huge work of art in the making:
And now we have two more books. Note that -- books, not just TV episodes. Each of these novels is replete with details revealing the depths of a World you could never imagine, but which seems totally familiar.
A Parliament of Bodies (A novel of The Maradaine Constabulary)
The Way of the Shield has a sequel, Shield of the People, out October 2019.
"The Shield" is a martial arts "order" -- part of the previous culture, struggling not to be lost amidst a changing society. Think of the parallels to the TV Series, Shtisel, which I recommended previously:
If you do a deep contrast/compare study of the martial arts order, how hard it is to live their life, what they swear to do, how seriously they take that oath, with the lifestyle depicted in SHTISEL, you will learn a lot about the writing craft.
But include the novels of the Maradaine Constabulary, along with two American TV Series, NCIS and BLUE BLOODS,
We have a long history of great Detective Series, novel series made into TV Detective series (Perry Mason comes to mind), and many stories of how teams of police and/or lawyers become bonded into a family.
A working group of crime fighters (even superhero alliances) bond the way combat veterans have bonded with buddies from time immemorial (really, pre-Rome days).
It is the nature of humans to bond with those who face adversity with them. It is in the whirling blades of combat (physical or psychological), that the true core of a human's personality is revealed.
Thus many of the best Romance novels mix in another genre that includes some sort of danger, testing, supreme effort. Becoming part of an organization, such as a Martial Arts Order, where you must pass a test to be accepted, forms that sort of bond.
These procedures (reduced to hazing in the case of the college fraternity - kid's games compared to real life) do forge MARITAL BONDS, true marriage for life, and perhaps beyond.
In the USA, we have had influxes of immigrants over the centuries, and such communities have settled together and formed major bonds that last generations. Some groups have assimilated easily, and others have resisted for many generations. Some just soak up Americana and adapt it.
In the 20th Century we had the Italians and the Irish, as well as the Jews of Eastern Europe. New York's Irish Cops became famous.
All three of these incoming groups were famous for their family strength, keeping family ties going for generations before intermarrying and becoming part of the 50% divorce rate statistics.
The TV Series, Blue Bloods, focused on a multigenerational Irish family in the process of complete assimilation. Being a cop (or in one woman's case, an attorney) was the family business.
It's a stereotype for s reason -- non-Irish people knew many such families.
In the sub-series, The Maradaine Constabulary, Marshall Ryan Maresca has given us a multi-generation family of cops, tough men and women of impeccable loyalty to law and order.
The inexplicable element in the Maradaine law, to me, is how it replicates USA law, the legal protection against search and seizure and other rights of individuals that cops can't violate and get a conviction in court.
While these concepts date back thousands of years, and are part of the Magna Carta -- survived a multitude of dictatorial Kings, and somehow became codified into USA law, they are by no means universal among countries today. Even where such law is on the books, it is often ignored.
There is no explanation (so far) in the Maradaine novels about where they got these ideas -- but they do have an Aristocracy as well as a Parliament.
The novel, A Parliament of Bodies, has major elements of Horror Genre, but likewise incorporates both unbreakable family ties and love/loyalty between spouses.
Setting aside the inexplicable World Building puzzles, both these novels and the sub-series they represent are well worth your time to read. They are not Romance novels, but love and loyalty are the plot-driving forces that depict what a strong family really is.
Always remember that "strong family" is the single most critical element in the Happily Ever After ending for a Romance. If the marriage doesn't nurture children, a next generation and a next beyond that, who love, understand, appreciate, and above all honor, the couple forged in Romance, then you didn't have Soul Mates to begin with, and thus no HEA is possible.
So study the limits of what the publishing industry can allow right now, and, like Srugim and Shtisel TV Series, break that boundary, challenge the stereotype, find a new angle to view your story.
Just don't miss the Maradaine novels.