Just in time for this years fondness feast Book Depository.com has come up with its comprehensive list of “The Best Love Stories of All Time (As Voted For By Our Customers)” [Book Depository.com]. It is similar to one that Fly High by LearnOnLine put out in 2o12.
As I cradle my hot cup of tea on this cold and snow bound winter morning and contemplate this blog post, I realize that I could produce a score of comparable list, but I wont. I’ll just relish in the fact that my girl Jane is so well represented here and make a note of the books I need to put on my Kindle. Here’s my combined chart of the Book Depository and LearnOnLine lists — there was a lot of duplication. (you’re going to have to click on it to read it, sorry).
It seems to me there are an awful lot of dysfunctional relationships and dead people are on here. You can thank the Sisters Bronte for that, but they aren’t the only ones. Do we really need death or dysfunction for something to be romantic? I think not.
Do we need friction to make good fiction? Yes! And there’s plenty of that in P&P, North and South, The Princess Bride. But, does it have to tip the scale to melodrama and angst that Jane Eyre and Great Expectations does. Must it, further, jump over the (heath)cliff into despair as in Wuthering Heights?
I try to like the Brontes, but whenever I read them (or watch a movie based on one of their works) I find myself wishing for Austen. I LOVE Austen. I never wish I was some where else when I’m with her. Strangely, I really like Elizabeth Gaskell, the author of North and South, Cranford, Ruth, and Wives and Daughters (and lots more). Gaskell was friends with Charlotte Bronte and her biggest advocate. [You can read her biography of Charlotte HERE.] But I find her (Gaskell’s) prose much easier to read.
And I’m not saying a romantic story can’t be sad or end in the death of 1/2 the couple. I think John Green did a lovely job with Hazel Grace and Gus’ love story. And I was glad to see The Fault in Our Stars made the reader’s list. It just doesn’t have to be overwrought. Neither of those teens would put up with it.
Anyway I’m wondering what would make YOUR top five romantic novels. (Feel free to cheat and lump all of an author’s love stories into one pick — like ALL of Shakespeare’s love stories.)
In the mean time I’ll just leave you with this and hope that you’ll consider being my literary valentine…