February 14, 2012

famed literary lovebirds

What would romance be without lovers? Story is what happens to character. A good romance is based on good characters.

Last summer I counted down my top 10 favorite couples in literature during Project Boy Meets Girl. In honor of Valentine's Day and couples everywhere, I thought it would be fun to revisit them and remember what makes their love stories wonderful.

(You can click on the links to view the original blog posts where I went into more detail.)

My Top 10 Favorite Couples in Literature

10. Jo March and Professor Baher of Little Women

Jo and Professor Baher are adorably awkward as individuals, but together they are simply adorable. Meeting as a tenant and nanny at a boarding house, the duo bond over their shared love of books and learning. (A couple after my own heart.)

Their love story peaks under an umbrella in a rain storm when the professor finally lays it all down for our heroine: "Jo, I haf nothing but much love to gif you; I came to see if you could care for it, and I waited to be sure that I was something more than a friend. Am I? Can you make a little place in your heart for old Fritz?"

9. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen of the "Twilight" series

Their love may be overly intense, dramatic and creepy, but I can't resist Edward and Bella's story. I won't go so far as to say their story is my own brand of heroine or irrevocable, but I eat it up.

Inexplicably drawn together, perceived bad meets apparently good. Wrong meets right. Pull. Clash. Vampire. Swoon. Ice. Heartache. Reunion. Namedrop-of-a-classic-romantic-story-vaguely-tying-into-the-theme-of-the-book. Wolves. War. Love. Monster-baby-who-makes-me-scared-to-have-children. Forever. The drama is high in these stories (and it's not a realistic example for impressionable youth), but their story entertains, romances and engages.

8. Annie Laurence and Max Darling of the "Death on Demand" series

Max leaves behind his glamorous life as a New York City trust fund baby and follows his heart, and the love of his life, to an island off the Carolina coast. There, he starts a non-detective agency to be with his bookstore-owning sweetie. Together they are savvy, beautiful, charismatic and so perfect you're torn between jealousy and admiration, he and Annie's relationship is enviable.

Plus, when they are together, they manage to not only be cute, but they solve murders better than the local authorities. Sigh. Add intelligent, cunning and brilliant to the list of their attributes.

7. Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley of Emma 

Who doesn't love a story about a girl falling for the boy — err... man — next door? Mr. Knightley is more than an old family friend and confidant. He is the only man who can keep up with Emma AND even best her when it comes to wits. Knightley challenges her to be more mature, charitable and decenct.

The best part of their story has to be one of Knightley's lines, spoken after each finally reveals their secretly harbored feelings for the other: "I cannot makes speeches, Emma... If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." If a man said that to me, and meant it, I would never expect him to talk again.

6. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre 

Another story of bad meets good, Jane and Mr. Rochester complete each other in a sense that each can be themselves — and a better version, at that — when they are together. Jane is young, a governess and kind. Rochester is older, the master of the manor and seemingly rude and abrupt. Both have dark pasts. Both are drawn to each other.

Though filled with deceit, unshared histories and tragedy, Jane and Rochester's love story ends happily with them united. In the end, the pain and badness of the past does not matter as they move forward. Again, cue the sigh/ swoon/ reaction that strikes your fancy.

5. Anne Elliot and Capt. Wentworth of Persuasion

They make the list simply for the divine letter Capt. Wentworth wrote Anne. The opening: "You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever."

I just got weak in the knees typing that. Total swoon.

Now excuse me for a moment while I go sulk with a pint of ice cream about the fact that no one has ever told me I pierced his soul.


4. Becky Bloomwood and Luke Brandon of the "Shopaholic" series

Becky and Luke are not quite opposites, but they definitely balance each other out. Becky is loving, free-spirited and fun. She also is good at getting herself into trouble — especially when it comes to her finances. Luke is serious, overly organized and did I mention serious. But he is also good at creating solutions.

Becky makes Luke live life outside of board rooms. Luke helps Becky be more responsible.

3. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe of the "Anne of Green Gables" series

Remember that super cute, smart and nice guy who used to tease you in school, and you found yourself competing with? And then remember when you decided to become friends, because he made a huge life-changing sacrifice for you?

Well, maybe our lives aren't quite like that, but Anne and Gilbert live this and it's totes adorable.

Gilbert Blythe, despite his unfortunate name, was one of my first book crushes. The influence on me was profound. To this day, one of my favorite stories is of the boy and the girl who know each other a long time, eventually become friends, but then ultimately are much more.

2. Elizabeth Bennett/ Bridget Jones and Mr. Darcy/ Mark Darcy of Pride and Prejudice and the Bridget Jones series

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Mr. Darcy and Mark Darcy are both foxes. They may each be a little proud to start with, but don't worry. They can change for the woman they love.

And Lizzie and Bridget are both flawed. But that's OK. Because the Darcy's like them.

Pride and Prejudice is one of the great classic romances in the English language for a reason. Bridget Jones's Diary gave life to the Chick Lit genre. There's a reason. Both stories are timeless, well done and totally adorable, because the reader genuinely wants these kids to work it out.

1. Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder of the "Little House" series

I read the books when I was in elementary school. As a 9-year-old, I could imagine nothing more romantic than this story.

Maybe it's because I always related so well with Laura, because of our similarities beyond our first names, but I thought Almanzo was a total stud. I mean, in The Long Winter he and Cap Garland faced blizzard conditions to bring wheat to the people of De Smet. In These Happy Golden Years, he faced subzero temperatures to take her home every weekend to see her family. Aside from learning that winter can really suck, I also saw that quiet actions and kindness can make a hunky hero.

And who doesn't love a man who cares about the details important to a girl? For example, a custom-made pantry or using her favorite team of horses on their wedding day, because "Prince and Lady started this... so I thought they'd like to bring us home."

Now it's your turn. Who are your favorite couples in literature? 

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