Romantic Reads covers a lot of territory: from Civil War drama to modern romps through frothy silliness. Whether you’re looking for a good weep or a belly laugh, we’ve got some great reading choices for February.
Love stories don’t often get as dramatic a back-drop as the American Civil War; the adventures of Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara and the dashing Rhett Butler gain an extra frisson by the historical context that shapes their lives. Right from the famous starting line: ‘Scarlet O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm…’, this is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that climbs to the heights of passion, plumbs the depths of hatred and ends in pure indifference. If you’re familiar with the film, this provides even more fantastic dialogue and displays of gumption, plus a few more pointers as to what happens next.
Read if: you have the whole of Valentine’s Day free to indulge. It’s a door-stopper.
Best line: ‘No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.’
Ms. Jones’ adventures as related by Ms. Fielding have brought many a giggle, a feeling of recognition (‘I AM Bridget Jones’) and sense of well-being to its fans since first publication. We follow the career of Bridget as she sorts the bad men from the good, struggles with weight and career plans and has a great laugh with friends, all in a ridiculous skirt. Helen Fielding manages to bring Austen’s novels to the present day in an effortless way and let’s face it, the world can do with as many Mr Darcys as possible. Don’t miss the whole series, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Edge of Reason and the recent Mad About the Boy.
Read if: you want your mood uplifted and a smile on your face.
Best line: ‘It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It’s like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting “Cathy” and banging your head against a tree.’
And speaking of Austen… We’ve picked one that we consider her very best. Anne Elliot lets herself be persuaded by an old friend that her love for handsome naval officer, Frederick Wentworth is an imprudent one. Breaking their engagement, Anne regrets the decision but settles down uncomplainingly to her life with her snobbish father and sisters (shades of Cinderella). 8 years later, she encounters Frederick, now Captain Wentworth again, who has not really forgiven her… A fantastic story for all those who love second chances.
Read if: you want to know what the best love letter in literature looks like.
Best line: ‘You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.’
A poignant complicated love story set in Tokyo. Toru is a young college student whose best friend Kizuki inexplicably commits suicide. Toru finds himself drawn to Kizuki’s girlfriend, the beautiful, mentally troubled Naoko, but their lives are haunted by Kizuki’s death and Noako find the pressures and responsibilities of life ever more unbearable. In order to cope with this oppression, she retreats further into her own world, whilst Toru develops a relationships with a very different woman: the outgoing, fiercely independent, lively Midori.
Read if: you want a thought-provoking mystical introspection on love.
Best line: ‘If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.’
John Green had instant success with this wonderfully written book depicting a love-story between two teenagers with cancer. Never mawkish or self-pitying, the heroine is consistently loveable and funny, whilst never shying away from the realities of the situation. Soon to be released as a film, we really think you should read this before it comes out, if only so that you can see Shailene Woodley is your idea of Hazel Grace. A must-read for young adults… and olders ones, to be honest.
Read if: you want to be inspired by love shadowed by death. Oh, and if you want to cry buckets.
Best line: ‘I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.’
What are your favourite romantic reads? Tell us in the comments below!
Photo: Sébastien Wiertz/flickr (file)