Happy Valentine’s Day!
In keeping with today’s theme, I thought I’d talk about some of my favourite literary love stories and why I love them so much.
By literary love stories, I don’t just mean romance novels. But books where the romance and the couple stood out to me individually and together.
Here are 3 of my favourite literary love stories:
1. Sam Vimes & Lady Sybil – Discworld Watch Series by Terry Pratchett
I think Sam Vimes (Who is my favourite ever literary character) & Lady Sybil may be my favourite couple on this list. Their story is unconventional and lovely. They meet in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Guards! Guards!’ where Sam Vimes is initially a drunk who is captain of a derelict police force and evolves into a principled, dutiful and resourceful man while Sybil is an aristocrat who bucks aristocratic tradition by raising dragons. No seriously, she raises dragons and as a result she’s half bald and wears a wig.
He finds her intimidating initially and is quickly charmed by her kindness, compassion and calmness under pressure. She sees the great man lurking under a mountain of self loathing.
She elevates him socially (usually against his will) and he invariably drags her from one adventure to another during which she is always patient and shows remarkable forbearance.
They accept each other for who they are and they complement each other perfectly.
2. Peeta and Katniss – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Love in the middle of a literal post apocalyptic world. Of course love is the last thing on Katniss’ mind. She’s a bit too preoccupied with her survival and rightly so!
But Peeta’s been in love with her half his life and he takes his chance where he finds it. He doesn’t force himself on her and backs of when she needs him to but he’s there for her the entire series.
I really appreciate Peeta and Katniss’ love story because it’s so unselfish. Even though they don’t realise it, they are two very unselfish people who put the needs of other people before their own. In the end though, it’s their love for each other that saves them in a way. When they’re alone all they have is each other and it’s enough to keep them going.
3. Fitzwilliam Darcy & Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and prejudice, the classic. The witty heroine and the stuck up hero who becomes more human as the story goes on. It’s a common formula because it works.
Out of all the versions of this story I’ve read, the original is still my favourite. Elizabeth is blinded by prejudice and sees him as a proud haughty asshole and she’s right but he’s also a fundamental good person who has a chip on his shoulder because he’s carrying the weight of the world on it. He’s also entitled and blind to her dislike because he just doesn’t understand why she wouldn’t want him.
In the end, they’re two people who eventually understand each other. She sees who he is beyond his appearance and more importantly, he learns to let his guard down and be kinder. This book is a rollercoaster but their love story is touching because they’ve seen the worst of each other and come out on the other side with understanding and love.
To contrast, here are 3 of my least favourite literary ‘love’ stories.
1. Romeo and Juliet – Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Two delusional and stupid teenagers whose ‘great love story’ stems from a combination of youthful whimsy and abject idiocy. Romeo was in love with two girls in the space of a few pages and Juliet is vapid to say the least.
2. Heathcliff and Catherine – Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
What a mess. Catherine and Heathcliff are 2 awful awful people who try to outdo each other in their acts of cruelty. There is hardly one redeeming quality between them both.
3. Edward & Bella or Bella & Jacob – Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
All three of them suck. This is one of the worst love triangles ever.