Roses are red, violets are blue… as far as love stories go, these ten are must-reads for you! Okay so I may not be a poet, but I do love a romantic story. I scoured the Internet for a multitude of lists on the best romantic novels of all time. There were titles that appeared over and over, some obscure tales, some classic, some modern, but in the end I created a list for you – my lovelorn readers – to enhance your Valentine’s Day fervor. Enjoy turning the pages of some of my favorite fictional love stories. With the exception of Love in the Time of Cholera, (now promptly ordered from Amazon), I have read and re-read them all. The great thing about all of these is the language and depth of the writing in all of these is as colorful, complex and heart rending as any romance. So if your love affair is with reading – Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
Searching for peace and recuperation, Mr. Lockwood rents Thrushcross Grange from Mr. Heathcliff, who lives in a remote moorland farmhouse, Wuthering Heights. Lockwood is grudgingly shown to his room and notices books and graffiti left by a former inhabitant named Catherine. Lockwood asks the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, about the family at Wuthering Heights and she tells him the tale of heart breaking love that knows no bounds of time. The book’s core theme is the destructive effect of jealousy and vengefulness both on individuals and on their communities. The moors themselves, are a character, in this brooding tale of love and heartbreak.
The English Patient,
The novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War II. The nurse Hana, obsessively tends to her last surviving patient. Caravaggio, the thief, tries to re-imagine who he is. The Indian sapper Kip, searches for hidden bombs in a landscape where nothing is safe but himself. At the center of his labyrinth lies the English patient, nameless and hideously burned, a man who is both a riddle and a provocation to his companions – and whose memories of suffering, rescue, and betrayal illuminate this book.
A Room with a View,
E. M. Forster
Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century. The story begins describing a young woman’s first visit to Florence, at a time when upper middle class English women were starting to lead independent, adventurous lives. Their primary concern is that although rooms with a view of the River Arno have been promised, the rooms instead look over a courtyard. A Mr. Emerson offers to swap rooms as he and his son, George Emerson, look over the Arno. Thus begins an unlikely romance between Lucy and George captured, in one breathtaking scene, amidst the poppy fields of Italy.
The Notebook is a celebration of how passion can be ageless and timeless, a tale that moves one to laughter and tears and makes one believe in true love all over again. Noah Calhoun, back in coastal North Carolina after World War II, is haunted by images of the girl he lost more than a decade earlier. At twenty-nine, socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, but she cannot stop thinking about the boy who stole her heart.
Romeo and Juliet,
William Shakespeare’s tragedy tells the tale about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime and one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers.
Pride and Prejudice,
The story follows Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr. Darcy, have moved into their neighborhood.
Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and thereby exposes herself to the hypocrisies of society. The seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness.
Love in the Time of Cholera,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall in love. When Fermina chooses to marry a doctor, Florentino is devastated. As he rises in his career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs – yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies and fifty years after Florentino first declared his love for he, he will do so again.
The Princess Bride,
William Goldman’s modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests – for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love – that’s thrilling and timeless. The romance of Westley and Buttercup, rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled Florin.
Gone With the Wind,
Heralded by readers everywhere as the Great American Novel since it was first published, Gone With the Wind explores the depths of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the bluff red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it brings the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction vividly to life.