Books, Reading, Top Ten Tuesday
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Top Ten Tuesday: my 10 favourite literary loves

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish, is ‘Valentine’s Day’. Despite my bah-humbug feelings towards Valentine’s Day (it’s so commercialised), and the fact that really I’m a cynic, and I find couples gushing over each other on social media incredibly tedious, I won’t deny that I love love, and I love the idea of celebrating love – just keep the OTT PDAs to a minimum please.

Love in books can be completely breathtaking, and make you hope for that kind of love. The one that begins on a windswept moor, or with a chance encounter in the street. Or when two people, who’ve known each other forever, finally find it in each other after looking in all the wrong places. It can also make you cry your heart out, and hope you never love like that because it hurts.

So in anticipation of Valentine’s Day this coming weekend, I’m going to celebrate my love of love and share some of my favourite literary loves, many of which end with heartbreak (apparently I’m not a fan of endings that are too happy). These are in no particular order, because I’m rubbish at ranking things. To those of you celebrating St Val’s Day, I wish you lots of love – on every day of the year.

TheEnglishPatientThe English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Set against the backdrop of World War II, there are two love stories for the price of one in this novel. At the heart of it is the love affair between Count Laszlo de Almasy and the married Katharine Clifton – it’s illicit, passionate, and ultimately devastating. The other is that between Hana, a French nurse caring for the English patient, and Kip, an Indian Sikh who is part of a British bomb disposal unit. This relationship is tender and brings together two people who isolate themselves for different reasons, but find solace in one another when it’s needed most.

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

I’m not big on novels that are straight up classified as ‘romance’. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t exactly gravitate towards them. This book is one of the few exceptions I’ve made in this regard. In all honesty I remember the film better than the book (and I know there are some differences between the two), but I do recall crying a million tears while reading it because love lives on even when the person you love is gone, and that’s really beautiful, but sometimes you just have to let them go.

the bronze horsemanThe Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.

Also set in the era of World War II, The Bronze Horseman is the story of Tatiana and Alexander, whose relationship defies the odds over and over again. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a crying snotty mess at the end of this one and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to move again. It’s a love worthy of the word ‘epic’, and it would be a dream come true if it could be adapted for either the big or small screen before I kick the bucket.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

My overwhelming thought when I think about this book is ‘ugh’. There’s war (World War II, again – there’s a theme here apparently), there’s a love triangle; there’s hatred that becomes love; there’s a spurned lover; and then there’s the end. If you’ve seen the film adaptation of this and loved the end of that, then you’ll hate the book ending because it’s different. It will make you happy that love can wait for a long time but sad that it sometimes has to wait for a long time. That probably doesn’t make much sense but I don’t want to give away spoilers so I’ll stop now.

PrideandPrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Yes it’s a bit of a cliche to include this book, but I have to include it as it’s one of the few books I bother rereading every couple of years. I adore Elizabeth Bennet – she’s so spirited and opinionated that I found it virtually impossible to not become attached to her. Darcy I’m not such a huge fan of, but it’s what they represent together rather than individually that I love – they make each other better. Their relationship doesn’t just end up being about convenience (e.g., she marries for money, he just because he needs a wife); it’s a relationship of mutual respect and understanding – it’s a marriage of equals. Basically this book is Austen sticking it to the patriarchal overlords of her time. But yeah, love too.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

OK. This one is kinda like Pride and Prejudice but with working class people. The leading lady, Margaret Hale, is similar to Elizabeth Bennet in that she is middle-class with not a lot of prospects and she’s super opinionated; the leading man, John Thornton, is a bit of a jerk like Darcy and he’s also quite wealthy – but he’s not born into money, he’s had to work hard for it. But I ADORE John Thornton and I love that he and Margaret challenge each other so much (because you want to be challenged in a relationship, otherwise how do you grow together?) and in the end, they too make each other better.

One_day_-_david_nichollsOne Day by David Nicholls

The only thing I don’t like about this book is that Anne Hathaway was cast in the film adaptation and her accent was terrible. But I still cried like a big baby at the end of it. Basically it follows two people over a period of twenty years, showing where their lives are at on the same day every year – July 15th. They come together, they move apart, they drift past each other like two ships in the night. I don’t feel like I can say too much about this book without giving away any spoilers so I’ll stop now, but I will warn you to have tissues on hand when reading.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Strictly speaking, I don’t go out of my way to read anything by Nicholas Sparks. The Notebook is actually the only book of his I’ve ever read and will probably remain so until the day I die. Why do I love this one? Because when two people are meant to be together, they’ll be together dammit, and they’ll stay together forever and ever.

AtonementAtonement by Ian McEwan

Surprise surprise. Another WWII novel. I like this one because bad stuff goes down, but it doesn’t tear the lovers apart. And then the war tries to tear them apart but take that war! you won’t win because these two will be together whether you like it or not. And then you get to the end and Ian McEwan does what I dream to do one day – he makes the reader hate him and want to burn the book. But you don’t burn it because you live in hope that if you read it again, the end will be different.

The Lavender Keeper by Fiona McIntosh

Oh god. There’s a love triangle in this one and I really can’t decide whether I love the love between Lisette and Luc, or Lisette and Markus – does she choose the French resistance fighter, or the German officer (because, surprise! this is set in WWII as well)? I’m not giving away any spoilers by saying the triangle does not end well, and I did cry on the train as I read the “does not end well” part. Oh, and if you want McIntosh to completely tear your insides out and jump up and down on them, then you should also read The French Promise, which is the sequel to The Lavender Keeper.

Do you have any favourite literary loves?

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23 Comments

  1. I only recently saw the Celia Ahern film and thought it was fabulous, (accepting that some parts didn’t feel natural at all like Irish parents not attending their sons funeral!) I think the original was actually set in Ireland?

    Oh love stories seem so rare these days, The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain is a good one I read last year, light but uplifting and one that almost doesn’t happen, the best kind in a film or a book.

    Your mention of Nicholas Sparks reminds of reading in my 20’s Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County, long before the film was made and trying to stop the tears when I read it on the London Underground – not a book to read in a public place!

    Loved The English Patient and Captain Corelli and Anna Karenina, did you see the very theatrical but incredibly moving last adaptation of that story? The Russian waltz was the most incredible love scene, all in a single dance.

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    • From what I remember P.S. I Love You was definitely set in Ireland – I watched the movie before I read the book, so I was pretty surprised that the setting had been changed completely from the book. I enjoyed both though.

      I haven’t seen any adaptations of Anna Karenina. I really want to watch the most recent one though (that’s the one with Keira Knightley, isn’t it?).
      Your mention of the waltz reminds of a scene in the recent BBC adaptation of War & Peace – there was a very similar scene with Andrei Bolkonsky and Natasha Rostova. It was so beautiful and I was completely swept away by it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like how many of these are off the beaten path. 🙂 Of course, P&P, Atonement and The Notebook are probably on a bunch of lists, but I haven’t even heard of some of the others!

    Also, I read The Notebook when I was 11 or 12. Maybe too early? I remember the sex scene in the empty house being especially titillating. 😛

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    • Hahahahaha. I love that you used the word ‘titillating’. Call me immature, but that word is HILARIOUS.
      You did start your romantic reading early – I think I was reading The Hobbit and things like that at that age. But to be honest I can’t really remember back that far, so my reading choices are anyone’s guess.

      The English Patient is so beautiful and sad – have you heard of that one? The film is amazing too – it has Ralph Fiennes in it when he was really young and he’s such a dreamboat (but kind of a jerk).

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  3. The English Patient and Atonement are books I’d really love to re-read. That really speaks to my overarching love for them. I don’t know if I’ll ever read One Day because I saw the film (OMG), but I do have North and South on my TBR and intend to read it.

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    • The BBC adaptation of ‘North and South’ is excellent (if you never get around to the book). It has Richard Armitage in it, which is also a good reason for watching it.

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  4. Omg I loved this post! You included so many of my favorites, like Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, and One Day. I’m actually the same way: I tend to be more attracted to the tragic, melancholy endings rather than the happy ones. Perhaps because the sadder stories tend to resonate more with the reader.
    Love love love this post!!

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    • Thanks 🙂
      I find super happy endings a bit dissatisfying sometimes – they don’t seem realistic. Gimme the drama and the heartbreak any day!

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  5. i know this is akin to heresy to book lovers, but I preferred the movie The Notebook to the actual novel. But still – Noah and Allie – one of the great literary pairings! My TTT

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  6. Yes to Pride and Prejudice (of course) and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I still have The Bronze Horseman to read. I’m not a big fan of Sparks, but I did like his A Walk to Remember–both book and movie. Great post!

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    • I liked A Walk to Remember as well (only the movie – haven’t read the book). The Bronze Horseman… I have so many feelings about this book. There are a couple of sequels too, although the more recent ones (that are sort of more like “companion” books than sequels) aren’t that great.

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    • I was going to include ‘Jane Eyre’ – I wrote it down and took it off, and then wrote it down and took it off again. There were so many other books I could have included as well, like ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Ooh and ‘Persuasion’ and…basically any of the classics!

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  7. Great list! ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘North and South’ would definitely be on my list too… they’re just so satisfying when you reach the end, having watched the characters gradually transform. 🙂

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    • I completely agree. As much as I love Elizabeth and Margaret, they are both so self righteous at the beginning of their respective books, but are far better people by the end.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I left heaps off as well! I’m actually surprised how many I could think of as I don’t usually go in for love stuff – it’s usually what’s happening AROUND the love story that interests me (like war, etc.).
      Have you read the sequels to The Bronze Horseman?

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  8. I’ve only read one book by Sparks, too – The Notebook – and I don’t really have any desire to read any more of his…personally, I think I liked the movie a little more… 🙂

    Check out my TTT.

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    • I feel like once you’ve read one Nicholas Sparks book, you’ve read them all. I get the impression that they have VERY similar storylines, but it obviously works for him!

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