Hello, my dear strangers!
I’m in the mood for love. Every once in a while, this odd sensation will engulf me, making me think about love, a subject which is usually the furthest one away from my mind. I am currently boyfriendless and girlfriendless and have been for a while, opting to focus on my academics, my writing and my various projects aimed at saving money for travelling. So, needless to say, I’m pretty certain my subconscious is sending me early warning signs that I should find a way to incorporate romance in that equation. But, until the time I finally do meet someone interesting and fall in love (which I’ve always found hard to do), I’m left with my books. Every now and again, I’ll revisit one of these books to help me get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside and remind me that the best is yet to come.
A word about me and romance books ⇒ Over the years, I’ve read some, not many, but some romance books. And it’s happened to me very rarely (read: never) that I actually appreciate that book for its genre. I’ve already accepted the fact that I’ll never truly enjoy the romantic in a romance novel, because the books within this genre are all about love and relationships, which I find very tiring. If the protagonist happens to be, let’s say female (male works too, though it’s usually women), she’ll spend the entirety of the novel’s plot fixated on her relationship. There are no friends in her life, there is no job, no school, no Uni, no siblings, parents, duties and obligations, chores, financial struggles whatsoever… unless they’re somehow related to her significant other.
For example, if the heroine has a dog, those dog’s health problems will never be mentioned, unless her significant other happens to be a vet. A protagonist’s struggles with writing essays will never be mentioned, unless the object of his affection happens to be a tutor or a teaching assistant and so forth and so forth. Well, maybe I’m stretching it a tad here, but you know how these books are. 90% of the plot revolves around the relationship even before there is an actual relationship to talk about. It’s annoying and irritating and cringe-worthy and I so seldom get to enjoy these books and when I do, my enjoyment has absolutely nothing to do with the romance in question. For instance, perhaps you’ve heard of Nora Roberts. She writes cheesy, cloyingly bad romance novels. I’ve read a few and the only one I’ve enjoyed was Montana Sky. There are three relationships in that novel and none of them brought me any enjoyment whatsoever. The single reason I enjoyed it was because of its, admittedly idealised, depiction of farm life on a vast cattle ranch in Montana.
That being said, I basically never get my romance fix from the romance genre. Most literary relationships I like and admire come from other genres, genres that incorporate a wide variety of stories within them, but still manage to include a heartwarming love story. Now, either those are few and far between or I’m romance allergic, which could help explain why I struggled to list even mere ten couples, before deciding to settle on nine. Naturally, I will have to venture a bit into the plot itself but, for the most part, I will only be focusing on my chosen couples. However, please remember that there is far more to these books than just what I opt to describe. I wouldn’t want any of these books suffering the loss of a potential reader simply because you decide to judge them according to my descriptions, which are incomplete and focus only on one aspect of the story.
Warning! In order to discuss these couples and relationships the way they and the authors behind them deserve, I will be revealing a lot of spoilers. You’ve been warned. So, without further ado, let me present my top 9 favourite literary couples.
9. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – Molly and Arthur Weasley
Molly and Arthur have endured together more than most couples ever have to, in magical world or otherwise. They have stayed together and loved each other through poverty, two wars, lots of kids, the shunning of the magical community for their liberal ways, the kidnapping of their daughter, the estrangement and straying of their son, constant danger, the death of a child and so much more. They’ve never shied away from responsibilities and perils, taking upon themselves many burdens, such as acting as surrogate parents to The Chosen One, lending their home to secret organisations, trembling in constant fear of the repercussions their lifestyle may bring, treating one kid for a curse-stricken ear and another for a case of semi-werewolfism. They raised Fred and George (which is an accomplishment in and of itself) and watched kid after kid of theirs enlist in the battle against Him (yes, I am still afraid to utter or type his name).
There were some relatable issues in their family, such as “I don’t like the girl my son’s about to marry” and “Oh, I wish that handsome celebrity wizard would notice my hair” and “Oh, how I wish I knew the exact purpose of a rubber ducky”, accompanied by a whole range of pranks thrown by the twins, but on the whole, the problems facing this couple and their entire family are the ones most of us have never had to face. Molly and Arthur stood strong through it all and managed to build a powerful circle of good friends and allies like no other power couple in this entire series. They’ve been humiliated, attacked, even rendered superfluous on several occasions, but they held each other’s hand through it all and managed to fight their way through to the other side and a better life. Their life story takes up a very small portion of the series’ plot and isn’t overly romantic when you look at it, but it is strong and durable and consistent. And that is why I love Molly and Arthur and the love they share.
8. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson – The unnamed protagonist and Marianne Engel
The Gargoyle begins with a description of a modern-day cynic who has lost all faith in this world and has become an empty shell of a man. His life isn’t a life at all. It’s an existence. He is a deeply sceptical actor working in the porn industry with quite a few addictions to his name. One night, he gets into a car accident in which most of his body gets badly burnt. When he wakes up in his hospital room in the burn ward, he realises that his appearance now finally reflects the man he is inside, gives up all hope and begins hatching a suicide plan. That’s when a young, eccentric woman named Marianne Engel starts visiting him. It appears that she might have a few mental problems, but is overall pleasant and comforting. She is a sculptress and a storyteller, drawing the burned man in with her tales of great love that have taken place across the centuries in all corners of the world.
However, our protagonist doesn’t accept her presence so easily and is fighting his morphine addiction to boot. There are several other, well-rounded characters that he keeps coming into contact with, all of them renewing hope in his heart, against his wishes. It isn’t long before Marianne tells him that the two of them used to be lovers in 14th century Germany. As it turns out, she used to be a nun in a convent where he was brought to, badly injured. As she treats his wounds, he reveals to her that he is a member of a mercenary clan. They fall in love and flee the monastery, get married and conceive a baby. However, they soon run into his old gang who want to kill him for being a deserter. Heavily pregnant, Marianne escapes and watches from afar as the men torture and burn her husband. She aims an arrow straight into his heart, mercy-killing him.
To be honest, I’ve only read The Gargoyle once, about six years ago or so, so a lot of the details are foggy in my mind. However, I do plan on rereading it one of these days. The point it’s trying to make, in my opinion, is that there is no creature so contemptible as to not be worthy of love. Anyway, there are gobs of interesting details in this novel, from the protagonist’s morphine addiction and suicide plans to the lives of the hospital staff to Marianne’s task from God and its consequences. It is a tale of falling back in love with life and realising that it is never too late to start anew and that no matter how despicable you may be and how many bad things you’ve done, there will always be someone out there ready to love you.
Part 2 coming soon. Keep reading 🙂