The subject for February is love and romance – of course. While this gives you absolute permission to read bodice rippers if you choose, love is a critical part of some of the greatest books ever written. Here are a few suggestions
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen Many consider this rich social commentary to be Jane Austen’s finest novel. It is certainly among her more famous ones. Austen sets her entertaining study of manners and misconceptions against the backdrop of a class-conscious society in 18th-century England.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte – Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon – “After being separated by seven years of World War II, Claire and Frank Randall return to the Scottish Highlands for a second honeymoon. Left to her own devices while her husband immerses himself in historical pursuits, Claire inadvertently enters a circle of standing stones and is plunged back 200 years to a Scotland on the verge of the second Jacobite uprising. Her pluck and skill as a nurse win the Scots’ grudging respect, but only marriage to a Scot will save her from the clutches of Frank’s vicious forbear, Black Jack Randall.
Gone with the Wind – Margaret Meade – Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time
The Princess Bride – William Goldman Once upon a time came a story so full of high adventure and true love that it became an instant classic and won the hearts of millions.
The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough -Colleen McCullough’s sweeping saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian Outback has enthralled readers the world over.
For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway A romantic drama set against the turbulent tapestry of the Spanish Civil War.
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
Love Story – Erich Segal This is the wonderful, tumultuous, heartfelt story of Oliver Barrett IV and Jenny Cavilleri—the story of a rich Harvard jock and a wisecracking Radcliffe music major who have nothing in common but love . . . and everything else to share but time.
Me Before You – Jojo Moyes They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez Love in the Time of Cholera details a passionate love triangle that unfolds in turn-of-the-century South America.
Atonement – Ian McEwan Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose
The Fault in our Stars – John Green - Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy – Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.
The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje During the final moments of World War II, in a deserted Italian villa, four people come together: a young nurse, her will broken, all her energy focused on her last, dying patient, a man in whom she has seen something “she wanted to learn, to grow into and hide in”… the patient: an unknown Englishman, survivor of a plane crash, his mind awash with a life’s worth of secrets and passions … a thief whose “skills” have made him one of the war’s heroes, and one of its casualties … an Indian soldier in the British army, an expert at bomb disposal whose three years at war have taught him that “the only thing safe is himself.”
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.
Napoleon and Josephine: An Improbable Marriage – Evangeline Bruce – Napoleon and Josephine’s relationship is one of the most fascinating love stories history. Their unlikely union began in the heady atmosphere of post-Terror Paris. Josephine was a sensual and debt-ridden widow in search of a wealthy protector; Napoleon was a ruthlessly ambitious young army officer in need of a wife with a fortune. When Napoleon, blinded by passion and dazzled by Josephine’s apparent influence in powerful political salons, insisted upon marriage, she accepted only with the greatest reluctance.
The Mysterious Rider by Zane Grey A Novel filled with a love triangle where the good is pitted against the wealthy ranch owner’s ne’er-do-well son. An unlikely hero rides to the rescue.
Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry – A love story and an epic of the frontier, Lonesome Dove is the grandest novel ever written about the last, defiant wilderness of America.
Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story – Daphne Sheldrick In this heartwarming and poignant memoir, Daphne shares her amazing relationships with a host of orphans, including her first love, Bushy, a liquid-eyed antelope; Rickey-Tickey-Tavey, the little dwarf mongoose; Gregory Peck, the busy buffalo weaver bird; Huppety, the mischievous zebra; and the majestic elephant Eleanor, with whom Daphne has shared more than forty years of great friendship. But this is also a magical and heartbreaking human love story between Daphne and David Sheldrick, the famous Tsavo Park warden. It was their deep and passionate love, David’s extraordinary insight into all aspects of nature, and the tragedy of his early death that inspired Daphne’s vast array of achievements, most notably the founding of the world-renowned David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Orphans’ Nursery in Nairobi National Park, where Daphne continues to live and work to this day.