Love Is In The Air

14 Feb

It’s Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate luuuuuuuvvvvv.

And so, with that in mind, I got to thinking WHAT makes a great love story? What makes me reread that book, or sometimes NOT reread it because it’s so heartbreaking?

Grabbing at the standard — Pride and Prejudice — let’s start there.

For me, that is Elizabeth’s book. She’s been a source of wonder to me since I was 12. She was brave and witty and loyal and clever. She was everything a young girl wants to be. But, as I grew up, I began to realize that the brilliance of Elizabeth is she is also flawed. Darcy, he took a little more growing-up to do than Elizabeth to gain my love. It took me a few years to understand the wonder that is Darcy. The fact that their love story stands the test of time is more than just a lucky guess – it’s a romance map. Love flourishes when you are willing to better yourself for someone else. Which both characters do. Both recognize their weaknesses and seek to be a better person — not only because of the other person, but for them.

Another constant reread for me is Jane Eyre. I reread it every 2-3 years. And, I’m still always surprised by things in it. That to me is such a sign of a good book — layers that I can’t peel away in one reading. Jane Eyre is the story of a woman who, even offered everything someone of her station could want, does the right thing and risks her own happiness. Later, when offered a chance at a good marriage to a beautiful, successful man…she passes. Because doing the right thing also means answering to your heart. Neither action is easy, both have consequences…but Jane, in the end returns to her hero. Also, as a reader, I always loved that she gives him a little of his own back at the book — she’s become his equal. Another key ingredient to a lasting love story.

When I was younger, I found the first Alanna books (by Tamora Pierce) I ate them all up. Like in 2 days. Who needs sleep! Not only was Alanna literally a girl making it work in a man’s world, she was still a girl. I loved that about her. And, as we followed her growing friendship with Jonathan ever reader knew they’d end up together — Only THEY DIDN’T! Seriously? What? Ohhhhhh…. because, sometimes, the comfortable choice isn’t the right one. Sometimes, love comes in the shape of someone who is your equal in all ways, someone who pushes and challenges you, someone who you can’t help but love.

So, there are some of my key ingredients (not to mention favorite book) to romance. I’d love to hear yours. I’m sure you’re going to surprise me. I love hearing about books that people love and force me to look at in a new way.

For example, my Special Agent Lauren MacLeod (@bostonbookgirl) is hosting a hashtag on twitter today (#mostromanticbooks) about…um, yeah… most romantic books. I’m always surprised at things like Wuthering Heights or Rebecca… but there they are – So, surprise me and tell me your key ingredients and favorite romances!

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5 Responses to “Love Is In The Air”

  1. Jeannie Lin February 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    For me, I’d have to say I go by a cry-o-meter. If the hero and heroine face trial after trial and still it seems like it’s impossible to get together, the catharsis at the end is so rewarding. I like romances that rip your heart out, what can I say?

  2. briaq February 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I do too! I have one book I don’t let myself reread any more, but it’s still on the keeper shelf: The Passions of Emma. Seriously. Unfortunately, the back cover ruins the first 2 HUGE surprise turning points – so, if you want your heart ripped out, don’t read the back cover, just take my word for it 😉

  3. Siobhan February 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    What is it that surprises you about Wuthering Heights? It’s my favourite book and I think a truer representation of what love can be like for most people- it shows the destructive and ugly things people do when they are in love, and holds the first generation up as an example of how not to behave. Cathy is a woman who marries for money and then finds herself stifled by the expectations of her position, her soul torn between two men. Amazing, dark and passionate.

  4. briaq February 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    I would definitely agree about it being dark and passionate…but to me, all that pain – all that hurt (a large amount of it purposeful) does *not* represent what I think love is or should be. It represents what unhealthy obsession and selfishness can do… One of my best friends is in your camp and we eventually had to decide not to discuss it any more LOL

    She also hates Persuassion, so we don’t discuss that either *snort*

  5. Kat Cantrell February 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Oh, it’s a fresh stab in the heart all over again!! I was SOOOOOO upset Alanna didn’t end up with Jonathan. I STILL AM. Hmm. Maybe I should go reread the series again because I don’t remember it being the non-comfortable choice. There you go forcing *me* to look at it in a different way. LOL

    Romance to me is about seeing the person inside. One of my favorite books is The Proposition by Judith Ivory. The heroine is not pretty – but she is to the hero and he makes her believe it. So bonus points on this romance because he not only sees past the surface, he helps her to as well.

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