In honour of Valentines Day, this post is all about Romance novels and my love for a good romance. I have always been a closet romance freak. By that I mean that I have a closet full of trashy romance novels that I like to take out after every few months or so, and sigh about how bloody sexist they are! Yet, I cannot bring myself to throw them away.
Right now, however, I just want to talk about a few romances that have a special place in my heart. These include both classics and not-so-classic books that I think every romantic-at-heart should read.
Before I begin, let me tell you that my most favourite love story of all time is not a book. It is just one chapter in a series of books, and it leaves me heartbroken every time I read it. Yes, I’m talking about Snape and Lily’s story. If you have no idea who these people are, then you need to read Harry Potter, NOW! And if you have read and loved the books like I do, then you will know what I’m talking about. “Always.”
Disclaimer: I do not like sad endings, so don’t expect to find Gone With The Wind or The Notebook here. Also, for those who consider it a romance, Wuthering Heights is not a romantic novel, so I will write about my love for it in a different post.
Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
I have been in love with Pride and Prejudice since grade 7. It was in our curriculum, and I have never enjoyed studying more than when we were reading this book. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy have been my favourite couple forever. In the real world, I would probably slap the face of a man who talks to me so condescendingly, but Ms. Bennet definitely has better manners than I do! Even so, I love this maddeningly clueless man no matter what he does; and he does redeem himself at the end.
Over the years, I have owned several editions which have somehow managed to get lost with each of my moves. I love this book so much that I have all the sequels/ continuations/ retellings in e-book form! Of course, none of them come remotely close to the original.
I have never tried to find the literary merits of this book, nor have I ever tried to recount the social issues presented in it. I’m proud to say that I love it as a love story and will continue to do so. I don’t want to look into deeper meanings and motifs in the book. I still read it sometimes, and enjoy it for the all the happiness that it gives me. It is by far, the book that I have read the most number of times!
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
One of the most read books on my shelf, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a poignant, sometimes funny tale of a Time Traveler and his wife. It looks like a lot to read, boasting almost 600 pages, but once you start reading you cannot put it down.
It is a great love story; Clare first meets Henry when she is six and Henry is thirty-six. Henry, however, first meets Clare when he’s twent-eight and she’s twenty! This is how it goes on all their lives and they have to accept it and move on with their lives.
I fell in love with this sometimes funny, sometimes sad story when I first read it many years back. It is told in different times with both Clare and Henry as narrators, and it takes a lot of concentration to get the timeline straight in your head. All the more reason to admire Audrey Niffenegger for managing to write in such a way as to convince the reader that all this is possible.
Some might argue that it has a sad ending, but for me the ending is perfect. This was the only logical way for the book to end. It is not easy to resolve matters in a book about time travel. There are always a lot of questions left unanswered.
A superlative book that is right up there on the list of my favourites!
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus is one of the most vividly written books that I have ever read. It brings to life a world that is black and white, yet feels so full of life that you want to keep on reading. The circus is not an ordinary circus, and the word “magic” feels inadequate to describe the wonders contained within its boundaries. It is a story that doesn’t feel like a love story, yet it is one of the most poignant ones that I have read.
It is the story of a contest where the contestants are not aware of what the contest is. It is the story of two powerful men pitting their best against each other but coming out empty handed. It is the story of completely different individuals coming together to mount a spectacle that the world has never seen. In the end, it is the story of love, hope, perseverance, commitment and the constant vagaries of time.
What stands out in all of this, is the strong love that Celia and Marco feel for each other. Their love transcends the boundaries of magic, time and even space. They sacrifice everything to be with each other and to them, it doesn’t matter which world they exist in, as long as that world allows them to be together.
Paradise by Judith McNaught
Ah, here is the truly romantic book, written by the best writer of Romance Fiction. But, hey, this isn’t the book that she’s most famous for! That’s right. Every romance reader is aware that Whitney, My Love is the book that is the most beloved my Ms. McNaught’s die hard fans. I am a huge fan. I have all her books, and I love all of them in varying degrees. It is impossible for me to pick a favourite among Double Standards, Perfect, Almost Heaven or any of the other wonderful books; but if I absolutely have to, I will always pick Paradise.
The story of Meredith Bancroft and Matthew Farrell is full of misunderstandings and cliches. It is impossible to believe that I have read these 800 plus pages so many times that the books is falling apart at the seams! It is the oft-written-about story of star-crossed lovers who fall in love, get married and then get separated because of the villianous father of the girl.
Fast forward to a decade later, and Meredith is engaged to her childhood friend, Matt is a hotshot businessman, and Meredith’s business is in trouble. Oh, and there is the small matter of her still being married to Matt because of a fraudulent lawyer. What follows is a story as old as a typical romance novel. Why I love it, is because Meredith makes every stupid mistake on her own.
While there is some emotional blackmail involved, eventually it is she who decides whether to be an idiot or not. And the secret feminist in me rejoices that at least in this book I will not have to go through the torture of the heroine forgiving the hero even if he has been the cruelest to her. To me, when a hero is vile, he needs to grovel proportionately, and no woman should forgive him without proper compensation! So, yes, I love this book unashamedly and its poor condition vouches for my love.
The Man in The Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
I know what you’re thinking. A love story by Agatha Christie? Are You crazy? Maybe I am, because I have loved this book ever since I read it more than 25 years ago. And no, Christie never wrote a romance novel. This is eactly what she always wrote, a mystery. I must have bought at least 5 copies of this book since I keep losing it somehow.
This is the story of Anne Beddingfeld and how she fell for a man wanted for murder, a man in a brown suit. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue in this story; and even more drama and action. And while the story is essentially a romance, there is not much romantic about it.
The mystery of the murder of a Russian dancer, Nadine, and the disappearance of some diamonds is what this whole book is about. The narrator however, falls in love with a man whose name she doesn’t know, and who is by all accounts a murderer. What follows is a tale full of deception, high speed chases and crazy characters.
I absolutely love this gem from the Queen of Crime.