Romeo and Juliet. Jane Eyre. Pride and Prejudice. Gone with the Wind. Anne of Green Gables. These are some of my favorite love stories of all time–and now that Valentine’s day is upon us, I decided that I would write a post about five love stories. The twist? None of the five I just mentioned are on the list.
Everyone knows that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy end up together, and everyone knows how Rhett leaves things with Scarlett, but I thought I’d take a minute or two to share with you my top five unexpected love stories–books you might not recognize, or books you might not have gone into the bookstore to buy. So without further introduction, here are five unexpected love stories:
5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë.
This is a lesser known work by the lesser known Brontë sister, Anne. Her sisters, Charlotte and Emily, wrote Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, respectively. I love this book because it is a realistic account of how adults fall in love. The relationship between the two characters matures slowly over time, and the whole relationship feels completely genuine. If you’re a fan of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, you should definitely check this out!
4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Not your typical love story, this book chronicles Francie Nolan’s journey from girlhood to adolescence. This book has a lot of different versions of a love story–the love and concern of family members and friends to romantic love at different stages in life. And with lines like, “The world was hers for the reading,” how can you not fall in love with this classic?
3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This is the strangest and least romantic book on this list, but it’s a wonderful book that shows the love of a father for his son. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world and it tells the story of a father and son walking along the road. It’s weird and a little scary, but the love of the father shines through from beginning to end.
2. Les Miserables
I know it seems a little odd to have a book about miserable people on a list of love stories, but this book is all about love. From family love to romantic love to unrequited love, this book has any love story you might want to read wrapped up inside. I heard someone say that if you can get through the first 100 pages, Les Mis will change your life. I can personally attest that this is 100% true. Those first 100 pages are rough, and there are some rough spots in between, but I have never felt so much emotion for fictional characters than I did when I finished this book. I vividly remember sitting on my elevated dorm room bed crying my heart out. I’m really glad no one was in the room with me. 🙂
If you’re not excited about reading such a long book, there are several good abridged versions available. Normally I don’t love the thought of abridged books, but in this case the story is so beautiful that even an abridged version would be better than not reading it at all.
Or, hey, you can always watch the musical version with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. That’s good too.
1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
You didn’t think I’d let you leave without talking about Jane Austen, did you? Even though most of her books are the kinds you expect to hear about on Valentine’s day, I’m using this post to put in a plug for my all time favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion. This is Austen’s final book, her most autobiographical, and, for me, her most relatable. I love how the story and the characters develop, and Austen’s humor is also showcased in the minor characters. You know I love Pride and Prejudice, but this one is sweet, sincere, and lovely. Check it out if you haven’t already!
Bonus Book: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.
I really wanted to include this book in the post, but I couldn’t find my copy anywhere! It’s a sweet story about the power of love between a toy and his owner. It’s a “children’s book,” but the prose is beautiful and captivating, and I highly recommend it!
What are your favorite love stories? Are they expected or unexpected? I’d love to hear!