Literary Love: In Honour of Valentine’s Day

This is my version of a Valentine’s Day-inspired bookish post.  This is a list of love stories, mostly from books that I have recently read or that are old favourites of mine.  The links will take you either to the Goodreads synopsis or to my own thoughts about the book if I’ve already written about it on my blog.  Happy reading!

Illicit Love:

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Her affection for him was now the breath and life of Tess’s being; it enveloped her as a photosphere, irradiated her into forgetfulness of her past sorrows, keeping back the gloomy spectres that would persist in their attempts to touch her-doubt, fear, moodiness, care, shame.  She knew that they were waiting like wolves just outside the circumscribing light, but she had long spells of power to keep them in hungry subjection there.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I haven’t changed my mind.  That’s the point!  I want tot 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.

Enduring Love:

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

It was like love, he thought, this crumbling chapel: it has been complicated, and therefore perfected, by what time had done to it.


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (at least, I felt like it was tragic)

I kissed him, trying to bring him back.  I kissed him and let my lips rest against his so that our breath mingled and the tears from my eyes became salt on his skin, and I told myself that, somewhere, tiny particles of him would become tiny particles of me, ingested, swallowed, alive perpetual.  I wanted to press every bit of me against him.  I wanted to will something into him.  I wanted to give him every bit of life I felt and force him to live.

Old-Fashioned Love: (whatever that means, but it was the best I could come up with)

Anne of the Island by L.M.Montgomery – I grew up with Anne and Gilbert, as well as many other of Montgomery’s characters.

“I wouldn’t want to marry anybody who was wicked, but I think I’d like it if he could be wicked and wouldn’t.”

“I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.”

“I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.”

Gilbert drew her close to him and kissed her.  Then they walked home together in the dusk, crowned king and queen in the bridal realm of love, along winding paths fringed with the sweetest flowers that ever bloomed, and over haunted meadows where winds of hope and memory blew.

Real Life Love:

The Dirty Life; A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Life by Kristin Kimball  – I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in real love, good food, and farming, or any combination of those (so everyone, really)

A farm asks, and if you don’t give enough, the primordial forces of death and wildness will overrun you.  So naturally you give, and then you give some more, and then you give to the point of breaking, and then and only then it gives back, so bountifully it overfills not only your root cellar but also that parched and weedy little patch we call the soul.

When I think of it now, I can see that our wedding day was exactly like our marriage, and like our farm, both exquisite and untidy, sublime and untamed.  What I knew even then, though, in the middle of the chaos, was that the love at its center was not just the small human love between Mark and me.  It was an expression of a larger loving-kindness, and, when I remember it, I have the feeling of being held in the hands of our friends, family, community, and whatever mysterious force made the fields yield abundant food.  It is the feeling of falling, and of being gently caught.

Lost Love:

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

And if the man who once upon a time had been a boy who promised he’d never fall in love with another girl as long as he lived kept his promise, it wasn’t because he was stubborn or even loyal.  He couldn’t help it.

Young Love:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things.  I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.

My favourite classic love story:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Do you think I am an automaton? – a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?  Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you – and full as much heart!  And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.

No-I have touched you, heard you, felt the comfort of your presence-the sweetness of your consolation: I cannot give up these joys.  I have little left in myself-I must have you.  The world may laugh-may call me absurd, selfish-but it does not signify.  My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied: or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.

Have you read any good love stories lately?  Or have any old favourites?

29 thoughts on “Literary Love: In Honour of Valentine’s Day

  1. Rory says:

    Tess? Angel is such a sanctimonious prig. 🙂

    I do love Jane Eyre, even if Rochester lies. A few love stories I like: Tell the Wolves I’m Home (familial love), Delicacy by David Foenkinos (love after loss), and In Love by Alfred Hayes (the failure of love).

    I didn’t like A Fault in Our Stars that much, but that book still makes me sob.

    • Naomi says:

      I love that the kinds of love stories are endless! They don’t have to be typical boy-meets-girl-happy-ending. I haven’t read any of the books you listed here. I will have to check them out in time for next year!

      Including The Fault in Our Stars wasn’t very creative of me, but since I read it so recently, it’s one of the books that came to mind at the time. If I had lots of time, it would be fun to think up all the possibilities!

  2. Cecilia says:

    What a great post! I am really wanting to re-read Jane Eyre now…and I’ve always wanted to read Tess. I don’t know why my mind draws a blank when it comes to love stories…I guess I have read a number of books that deal with love but not necessarily in a good way (infidelity, loss of love, etc.). I do have a lovely collection of short love stories. I read it years ago, but I might write about it briefly this Friday.

    • Naomi says:

      At first, I had a hard time thinking of love stories I have read, because, usually in the books I read, the love story is not the only focus, and it is not always the happy-ending kind. But once I got looking at the books I’ve read, I could start picking out different kinds of love. They are not just the typical kind, and are not necessarily the center of the story. In the end, it was a fun little project!

      I would love to hear about your short love story collection! 🙂

  3. Cathy746books says:

    Oh what a romantic post! When I was 16 I thought Heathcliff and Cathy were the most romantic couple but I’ve grown up a bit since then! I do love Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado but I think my favourite love story has to be Love in the Time of Cholera.

  4. ebookclassics says:

    I’ve read some of the classics on your list and probably love Anne of Green Gables the most. I’m hoping to read the Rosie Project this year because I hear it’s so good. I’m curious about The Fault In Our Stars but wonder how sad it is.

    • Naomi says:

      The Fault in Our Stars is pretty sad, but you’re prepared for it. You know it’s coming. You should definitely read it. You would like The Rosie Project too. It’s cute and light, so maybe you could read it right after TFIOS.

  5. Lynn says:

    Awww…The Fault in Our Stars, Anne and Gilbert, The Rosie Project! All faves for me! I really want to read at least one Jojo Moyes book this year! 🙂

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