8 Romantic Reads

Summer romances may come and go, but a great novel lasts forever. We have put together a list of our favourite stories of romance and lost love — and all the emotions that go with them.

Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare

If you have somehow managed to avoid reading Shakespeare’s brilliant and most accessible play about forbidden love, now is the best time to pick it up. While their families — the Montagues and the Capulets — are in the feud of a lifetime, Romeo and Juliet meet and immediately fall in love. When Juliet’s family tries to force her to marry someone else, she procures a potion that will make her appear dead so her family will think she has committed suicide and she can run away with Romeo. When her suicide is declared, Romeo does not get the message that she is not actually dead — resulting in the tragic ending we all know too well.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre begins with a young, orphaned girl who lives with her aunt and cousins who torment her daily.  After finally standing up to them and being sent away to a religious boarding school for orphans, Jane becomes an excellent student and eventually accepts a governess job where she meets Mr. Rochester, an unconventional looking man whose rude demeanor immediately attracts her. The story of their rocky road to love is a classic novel passed down from generation to generation.

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

This Tolstoy classic tells the tale of the doomed love affair between the rebellious and married Anna and her lover, Count Vronsky. Like Romeo and Juliet, tragedy is the overriding theme of this love story. Set against nineteenth century Russia, this novel on the hypocrisy of society uses seven very different main characters stories to tell the tale, creating a memorable imbalance. The differences between city and country life and the multiple perspectives on love, life and happiness keep readers returning to it year after year.

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

This novel tells the story of seventeen year old Cassandra Mortmain, daughter of a once-famous author who wants to become a writer herself. Her family is barely scraping by in the English castle they leased when money wasn’t tight, but now they can barely afford food to eat. Unlike her sister, Cassandra doesn’t care much about falling in love — but it comes to her unexpectedly when the wealthy Cotton family takes over a nearby estate. Pick this one up for a great coming of age romantic read.

Skipping a Beat – Sarah Pekkanen

Skipping a Beat introduces us to Julie and Michael, a couple who met in their hometown and after bonding over their rough childhoods quickly became high school sweethearts. Now married and in their thirties, the couple is incredibly successful, living in an multi-million dollar mansion and enjoying the best of everything. After Micheal collapses in his office of cardiac arrest and survives, his outlook on life completely changes. He no longer cares about money and wants to give their millions away. Now Julie has to decide if she should walk away from a man who she truthfully no longer felt connected to years before — or trust him and join him on this new path.

Ten Thousand Lovers – Edeet Ravel

This love story begins in 1970’s Jerusalem, where Lily is trying to hitchhike to Tel Aviv. Ami, a handsome army interrogator, soon picks her up and they begin a romance to remember, but maintaining their happiness in the war torn country is not as easy as they would like. Still, they try their best to maintain a happy existence with their idealistic friends. They marry when Lily becomes pregnant, but the country and Ami’s profession continues to take its toll on their relationship. Can they make it work? Pick this one up to find out.

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

This love story about a man with a genetic disorder that allows him to travel through time unpredictably and his wife, an artist who has to learn to be understanding about his frequent and random disappearances, is a must read. Considered both science fiction and romance, the novel beautifully explores the themes of love, loss, free will, miscommunication and distance in relationships. Niffenegger was frustrated in her own love life at the time of writing this tale, and used the unusual story-line as a metaphor for her own failed relationships.

Dreams of Joy – Lisa See

This novel picks up where See’s last novel,Shanghai Girls, left off. The sequel takes us back to Shanghai with Pearl, twenty years later as she pursues her daughter Joy, who is looking for her real father. After finding him, Joy follows him deep into the countryside to a commune, but their idealistic dream of paradise is soon shattered by hunger as the government’s mandates create an unstoppable famine. Both Pearl and Joy must subvert a corrupt system in order to survive. Unlike the others in this list, this story is a tale of the love between a mother and daughter and the resilience of the human spirit.

Of course, this list is just a small sampling! What are your favourite love stories? Post in the comments!

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ kri_mar

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