1) Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Yeah, I know, the cliche choice. I really tried not to include them, but I just feel that there aren't many love stories more perfect than this so I don't care, Darcy and Elizabeth are here! Pride and Prejudice is so quintessentially British, the beautiful setting, the old fashioned society rules (can you imagine not being able to go to parties until your sisters got married?!) and the quick wit by the fabulous Jane Austen all make this the perfect read. However, it is the central relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy that make this novel something else, utterly romantic and a joy to me to read every time. Lizzie is the kind of woman we all want to be, and in her time she was very unique. Headstrong, intelligent and quick witted, it would take a special kind of man to match her fire, challenge her and make her a better person. Enter Darcy. This relationship is special to me because of what we can learn from it. Being a Taurus through and through I can make the mistake of judging people and I have learnt that the beauty of life and love is that people can surprise you and that first impressions are not always just or fair. The wonderful way we see these walls between the two crumble is perfect and I think this is one of the most developed relationships I have ever read. They understand each other, they grow for each other, and excite each other, and all this in front of the beautiful British backdrop, sweeping dresses and brooding men galore? There's a reason these two feature of every list of great literary romances. This is what love should be - an understanding and love of who a person really is, and not just a misjudgement of who you think they are.
2) Callum & Sephy
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
“I pulled him closer to me, wrapping my arms around him, kissing him just as desperately as he was kissing me. Like if we could just love long enough and hard enough and deep enough, then the world outside would never, could never hurt us.”
When I was about 15 (so like 8 years ago?!) every girl and their dog was reading (and crying and crying) over the 'totally perfect love' that was Callum and Sephy from Noughts and Crosses. This was my first foray into the YA genre before it was really a thing. For those of you who haven't read this book (which you should go and do now, although read this post pretty please, and then go!) basically it's a Romeo and Juliet-esque story between a black girl and a white boy, only there's a catch. In the book, black people are the dominant race (Crosses) whereas the white people are nothing, the 'noughts'. Callum and Sephy have known each other practically since birth due to his mum working for her family. They grow up together and watching their friendship develop and seeing the pair have to deal with their young feelings is truly romantic and exciting. I feel like these two define build up. However, as the characters grow so does the racial hatred around them, its influence on their lives and thus their relationship. Their fight to keep their pure, innocent, first love alive in such a cynical and dangerous world is truly inspiring and thrilling to read. It completely reaffirmed to me that love knows no colour, no race and that true love is so rare it should be cherished and celebrated wherever we find it. I cry every time I read this but don't let that put you off, it is beautiful and this book showed me what kind of man I wanted in my life and I'm so glad I waited for my Callum (insert some rolling eyes/faking vomit GIF as appropriate!)
3) Rhett & Scarlett
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
“Well, my dear, take heart. Some day, I will kiss you and you will like it. But not now, so I beg you not to be too impatient.”
Another extremely famous pairing and yet for me, quite a controversial one. When I include this in my 'great' literary romances I can't help but be reminded by Ollivander's quote (yes, HP references are always relevant) about Voldemort doing 'terrible but great things'. You see, when I first read GWTW, not only did it completely take over my life right in the middle of the final year uni exams (not the best timing) but it really made me sit down and think. This couple, the famous kiss, the whole novel has been presented to us as true love and yet...Scarlett, whilst being extremely inspirational in her strength and her survival in a truly difficult time is actually, kind of a selfish person. She makes Blair Waldorf look like Mother Theresa. And Rhett, well, let's just say it all gets a bit twisted in a way that makes Chuck and Blair look as sweet and innocent as a Disney couple. Now I do not condone these kinds of unhealthy, manipulative relationships whatsoever. However, purely taking this relationship as part of a PIECE OF FICTION, ie not a benchmark to compare healthy, real relationships to, this story is a rollercoaster like no other. The two characters clearly cannot resist each other and the context of their courtship makes this relationship is truly engrossing to read and to witness develop. An unputdownable book that includes a romance that will certainly give you many (different) FEELS and is widely seen as one of the best pieces of historical fiction ever written. For that last reason alone you should read this book!
4) Rosie & Don
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
“I haven’t changed my mind. That’s the point! I want to spend my life with you even though it’s totally irrational. And you have short earlobes. Socially and genetically there’s no reason for me to be attracted to you. The only logical conclusion is that I must be in love with you.”
Now into the modern era. I've tried to include lots of different types of genres with lots of different types of relationships and I feel no book or couple have come close to being this unique in a while. 'The Rosie Project' has been displayed in bookshops everywhere for months so I'm sure you're aware at least that it is book with a lobster on the front cover for some unknown reason (all becomes clear I promise). The story follows Don, a geneticist with Asperger's syndrome (although he isn't too aware of this himself) as he tries to find the perfect wife. He approaches the task as clinically as he does everything in his life, with questionnaires, non-negotiables and a extremely specific and inflexible idea of his perfect woman. Now I know we all imagine the perfect spouse but I would argue that this is definitely on another level! Through certain twists of fate Rosie and Don meet and basically she turns his rigid, structured, routined life completely upside down with lots of fun (and hilarious) turns along the way! This book is truly touching, funny and quirky and so many other wonderful adjectives. Their relationship is the true example of how there really is someone for everyone and how it that someone might be nothing like you imagined. If you haven't read this book, seriously do, please. It's perfectly romantic without being cliche chick lit, I deny even the coldest of hearts not to be moved by their story. Not only this, the sequel 'The Rosie Effect' has just been released!
5) Peeta & Katniss
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (BOOK SPOILER ALERT ahead)
"You love me, real or not real?"
Now, this is YA romance (and love triangles!) in the more fantastical genre done absolutely right! Stephenie Meyer please take note. For me it was always Peeta and Katniss so the fact that this Peeta-Katniss-Gale story is seen as a love triangle actually surprised me a little, think the movies have something to answer for there, even though I think they are fantastic. For me the story was always about Katniss allowing herself to open up to her feelings and realise that Peeta was exactly the person she needed. This is not a woman torn between two men for lust reasons, she chooses Peeta because he complements her in every way, the water to her fire, the communication to her silence. I loved how the relationship developed and yet was not a focal feature of the novel (to me anyway, others might feel differently!) The lengths they go to for each other and the sacrifices they make for each other is a perfect example of actions speaking louder than words. As a reader seeing Katniss show her love in so many ways before really understanding it or defining it herself is moving, real and makes for a very special read. I think this relationship hinges on the strength of Katniss as a character. She is not a silly girl following her fancies and stringing people along, she is tough and it is the realisation that she can allow herself to have love and that she deserves it that makes their relationship such a wonderful read.
So, do any of you have any favourite literary couples? Who else should I have included? Any recommendations for a good, romantic read? I'd love to hear them all!
This post was written by guest blogger Sophia - @sophiacristina