Four FAVORITE LOVE STORIES on Friday
Ah, Valentine’s Day. I think most people have a love-hate relationship with this particular holiday. Don’t get me wrong; I fully admit that I am, and always have been, a hopeless romantic. I am the one sobbing at the end of a book or movie while my children slowly edge away, pretending not to know me. I also have a bit of sarcastic wit and quirky view of life. This creates a bit of a paradox when it comes to love stories. It’s like love songs – Bryan Adams’ “Everything I do, I do for you” melts my heart but I also have a true appreciation of Meatloaf’s “Two out of Three ain’t bad.”
There are countless stories out there and although I appreciate a bit of cynicism and conflict, I am a sucker for a happy ending. Here are four of my favorite “love” stories.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, do the unthinkable; they fall in love. While researching in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, she discovers a bewitched alchemical manuscript. Inadvertently, the reappearance of this manuscript, which has been hidden for centuries, reignites the age-old conflict between witches, daemons, and vampires. Over 1500 years old himself, Matthew is drawn to this young, inexperienced witch who is defiant and dismissive of her powers and the secrets that she doesn’t know that she possesses.
My cousin recommended this book to be and I admit I was very hesitant. I’m confessing here; I have never read The Twilight Saga. Shocker, I know, but I’m just not a huge vampire fan. The Discovery of Witches, and the two other books in the All Souls Trilogy – The Shadow of Night and The Book of Life — completed changed my attitude. This series is an intelligent perspective on the various creatures that could live in our world and Harkness’ detailed research and historical accountability make it a fascinating read. I enjoyed the love story that brought two different creatures together, despite both of their denials, and what they must endure for themselves, their families, and their world.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Buttercup and Wesley are in love but are poor. He goes off to seek his fortune, is captured, and is killed by pirates. Buttercup is despondent and years later becomes engaged to Prince Humperdinck. She is kidnapped and rescued by none-other-than Wesley. True love must save the day, along with giants, Sicilians, and a revenge seeking Spaniard.
If you haven’t seen the movie The Princess Bride, well then I am sorry, we cannot be friends because it is quite honestly one of the best ever. If you have seen it, you must read the book. I loved the movie and when I picked up the book, I was in for the shock of my life. The book is the movie . . . plus all the boring stuff that is in the original S. Morgenstern’s tale. William Goldman injects hilarious and entertaining commentary throughout the entire novel about how his father “left out” parts when he read the story to his son as a small boy. As good as the story is, the “outtakes” are even better.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, along with their mother and youngers sister, are rudely pushed out of the family homestead when their father passes away. As they are the children of his second marriage, his son from the first marriage is heir and owner of all of his father’s possessions. As they attempt to find themselves in their new and much reduced circumstances, the reader sees the strong differences between the two sisters. Elder Elinor is practical and reserved; Marianne is impulsive and emotional. Both of them discover love and learn a great deal about themselves.
You know I had to include a Jane Austen, and my favorite of hers is Sense & Sensibility. Linguistics lesson here – sense refers to perceptions and sensibilities refers to emotional responses. I love how the title applies to both sisters and the claim Austen makes that both are required for love and companionship. Emma Thompson’s version of this as a movie is also one of my favorites. This film does a great job at making the story poignant and relatable without being sickeningly sweet.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Returning home from war, Benedick and Claudio are ready to celebrate their victories. Claudio is in love with the beautiful Hero and through some comedic interplay, woes her for his wife. Her cousin, Beatrice, and Benedick have past history of witty and often caustic banter; although secretly, they slowly begin to discover their affection for one another. When Hero is maliciously maligned, Beatrice and Benedick work together to clear her name.
I love Shakespeare’s comedies but my all-time favorite is Much Ado About Nothing. I love the varying views of love and how intelligence and humor are keys to a successful relationship. I have a soft spot also for this show because I played Hero in a college production and it was one of the roles I have enjoyed most playing. The Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson film version of this play is fabulous and absolutely beautiful to watch. Joss Whedon, of The Avengers fame, did a modern version that shows how Shakespeare’s themes are truly universal and timeless . . . yes, that is me as an English teacher speaking. There is a new book out called Beatrice and Benedick by Marina Fiorato that is a fictional telling of what occurred between these two characters before the story begins, and yes, it’s on my wishlist!
So, these are only four of mine; what are your favorite love stories?