There is nothing more romantic than the love and relationships found in fiction. After all, fantasy is sometimes better than reality. So this Valentine’s, why not take up a romantic book or two and experience the passion and timelessness created throughout the years. Arts writer, Lizzie Robinson, has compiled a list of romantic recommendations:
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you’’
When thinking of romantic novels, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of the first to come to mind. The novel tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet’s romance with Mr Darcy along with all the drama that a visit from Darcy’s rival, Mr Wickham entails, including rumours of elopement, deceit and eventual marriage. It perfectly captures what love is. The frustrating moments when the guy you like won’t text back are perfectly represented in Darcy’s insults to the charming Elizabeth Bennet upon his first proposal. Yet all readers surely felt an overwhelming mushy feeling when Mr Darcy finally gets his words right in his second proposal. The words in the quote above are enough to melt the heart of any Austen fan, especially on the holiday that celebrates all things romantic. Therefore, this novel is perfect for anyone who has a Mr Darcy in their lives; someone so frustrating yet irresistible it’s beyond reason, or anyone who loves a happy ending in a slightly less romantic form.
Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain
“There seemed to be nothing left in the world, for I felt that Roland had taken with him all my future and Edward all my past.”
Although not a novel, Vera Brittain’s first-hand account of her life during the war still contains memorable elements of love and romance. Her life story involves her acceptance into Oxford University, then due to the outbreak of war chooses to pursue a career in nursing to remain close to her lover, Roland, and her brother, Edward. This may seem like an odd choice for a Valentine feature because of the (plot spoiler!) death of Vera’s lover only part way through the autobiography, but anyone who picks up this book will be moved by the complete devotion of these two lovers; their tender letters and dashed hopes when their futures were made uncertain. This is not a book to be attempted without a good supply of tissues and chocolate but well worth a read for anyone wanting to feel sentimental and in love.
Ps I love you – Cecelia Ahern
“Their plan had been very simple: to stay together for the rest of their lives”
The obvious contender for an article on Valentine’s day literature: anyone who has read this will remember the love story of a grief stricken Holly, after the death of her husband Gerry. Aided by Gerry’s forward thinking as he wrote her a series of letters, her grief finally ebbs and she re-establishes her world and a life without her sweetheart. Again, this is one to approach only with the comfort of ice-cream as it is a real tear-jerker. Although the majority of the novel takes place after the death of Gerry, there is something immensely romantic about his plans to write the letters ahead of time in order to protect her as best he could from the devastation that would come with his death. The famous trip to Ireland to see his parents, advice to quit the job she hates, and encouragement to pursue a life that makes her happy are what makes this such an intensely romantic addition to anyone’s Valentines reading list.
Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
“The real sin, ma’am, in my mind lies in thinking of ever wedding wi’ a man you don’t love honest and true’’
Not everyone can boast of having two men fight over them, but Hardy’s Bathsheba Everdene certainly can! Another classic addition to any Valentine’s Day or romance themed reading list, this novel’s heroine meets the handsome farmer Gabriel Oak but rejects his plans to marry her. He then returns to her life years later when disaster strikes and he loses his livestock. She hires him whilst enjoying a brief romance with Mr Boldwood but again rejects him when he proposes (multiple proposals…sigh…). Then tragedy strikes as she meets Sergeant Troy who is infamous for his shady past as a seducer. They fall in love and marry. Then when his past is discovered, he runs off and supposedly drowns, later emerging only to be murdered by Boldwood – a murder fuelled by love and jealousy. After, Bathsheba finally accepts Gabriel’s proposal. This novel is perfect for anyone who seeks a little drama in their love life or wishes to escape the mundane elements of university life. Although rejection and crime is prevalent within this novel, love does play a part, so it perfect for anyone who rejects traditional romances and is looking for something a little less conventional.
Cinderella – Grimm Brothers
‘Now he would find whom the shoe fit and find his strange dancing girl for keeps’
In an article about romantic books, how can we forget the classic fairy-tale romance? Most of us know the plot to Cinderella, whether it’s the Disney version or the gruesome Grimm original. Either way, the plot entails Cinderella and her finding love after a magical dance at the ball with Prince Charming. Tasked with masking her identity and the magic of her disguise, she runs and loses her slipper, prompting the prince to swear to marry ‘the maiden whom this slipper fits’. It’s fair to say that Cinders has a fair few obstacles in her way, such as her evil step mother and step sisters, yet despite all this, love prevails! Anyone who fancies a traditional romantic Valentine’s Day read will love this classic. It is completely romantic (if you ignore the part where the stepsisters mutilate their feet in an attempt to get the slipper to fit them!) and a classic case of boy meets girl with a ‘happily ever after’ ending. So pick up this classic if you want to be reminded of your childhood, the magic of idealistic love, or want to be taken back in time. Alternatively, if you are feeling lazy, there are plenty film adaptations to cuddle up and watch!
Lizzie Robinson (with Jessica Millott)
Image credit: Vincent Lock via Flikr