Previous parts in "How do you know if you've written a classic?" series are:
Part 1 in this Series is about writing a "classic" illustrating the long time fan discovering new entries in a series.
Part 2, Spock's Katra, is a long answer to a request for material for an online blog. My answer focused on Theodore Bikel and his roles in Star Trek.
Part 3 answers very insightful interview questions from a Podcast host. The verbal podcast interview is very different, but here are answers done with some time to think of how to explain the invisible connections between Star Trek, my deep study of the fan dynamics of the TV Series, and my own original universe Sime~Gen novels.
Now in Part 4 we look at an OLD historical mainstream novel (written in the mid 1960's) - not a Romance Genre item which leaves you room to shift genres and make a truly original contribution to the field. Study its marketing and now re-marketing as an ebook (I picked it up on Kindle, free, when advertised on BookBub).
Romance Genre needs marketing like this. There are plenty of Historical novels as good, and even more that are just plain better, set in the 1800's, that should be promoted like this.
This novel is about the founding of Hong Kong. In 2018, Hong Kong exploded into the news with "protests" and marches against being "ruled" by China. China is in the news with "trade negotiations" -- and intellectual property theft (a crime that didn't exist when Hong Kong was founded).
The THEMATIC issues that a Romance writer can lift from Clavell's "Asian Saga" will seem as if they were ripped from the headlines of the 2020's.
Clavell played up the sex and violence. If you re-set this entire "founding of" and the rise of an international mogul into the coming Space Age where nations fight for trade among the planets and asteroids with a focus on Romance, in 50 years, you might see your themes repeating in the headlines. Clavell didn't live long enough, but did see the sure success of a classic.
I am seeing his "style" of writing emerging in the science fiction field, so blend Romance into the mix, study the style, create a new genre if you add dimensions of Soul Mates to politics and the forces that move human history. Don't forget to include E. E. Smith's Lensman Series premise and themes.
Yes, humanity never learns, or maybe new souls have to take the same courses of instruction in the school of hard knocks, but that stubborn, dense-headed element of humanity is what you can exploit to create a Classic Romance of the magnitude that Clavell has reached.