Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday: Connie's Favorite Love Stories

It's Tuesday, and we all know what that means -- our weekly meme hosted by our friends over at the Broke and Bookish. This week, I, Connie, continue my discussion of romance in literature and tell you my top 10 (not anti-feminist) love stories in books.

1. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice -- I have a feeling this one is going to be popular this week, but I list it here for likely different reasons. Without going into an intense and probably boring Jungian analysis of these characters, suffice it to say that both Elizabeth and Darcy go through a journey of self-discovery, including a wounding of the ego, before they are ready to truly love each other. Though Austen writes primarily about marriage, she is a perfect example of a female writer working within societal confines in order to defy and work against them. A literary discussion for another day.

2. Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind -- Talk about role reversal and defying stereotypes. In one of my favorite books of all-time, the brilliant Margaret Mitchell gives us Rhett, a man who is hopelessly in love with a woman who refuses to love him back. Rhett is not portrayed as some sissy boy for loving her -- he still maintains his "manly" status. Plus, though Scarlett is silly and foolish about her "love" for Ashley throughout most of the novel, she still proves to be a strong, willful, and powerful character and, by the end of the novel, comes to realize love for what it truly is and should be.

3. Bathsheba Everdeen and Gabriel Oaks, Far From the Madding Crowd -- An unconventional love story, this book takes us through Bathsheba's journey to discovering that lasting love must be based on friendship and mutual respect between two fully individuated people.

4. Sydney Carton and Lucie Manette, A Tale of Two Cities -- Actually, this love story for me is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Lucie is generally considered to be a flat character, serving more as a symbol for Carton's desire to become a better person than as a functioning character. So in that sense, Lucie is no paragon of a strong female protagonist. However, Sydney's transformation in the name of love makes for a wonderful story. When he professes his love to Lucie in the beginning, he is not a complete self, he does not love himself, and thus he cannot be in a relationship with her. It is debatable whether or not the ending signifies that he has become fully individuated.

5. C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham, A Grief Observed -- Not a fictional romance, C.S. Lewis's heart-breaking journey of mourning his wife's death demonstrates what love is and should be.

6. Silas and Eppie, Silas Marner -- George Eliot (remember, she's a woman) gives us the perfect example here of the redeeming power of father-daughter love. Wonderful, just wonderful.

7. Katniss Everdeen & [], the Hunger Games Trilogy -- As this is such a current and trendy series at the moment, I'm not going to spoil the ending for you. Not necessarily a favorite love story of all time, but at least in recent memory. Once again, we get a female protagonist whose sole motivating force is not the pursuit of romance but also who also does not shun or avoid it.

8. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, the Harry Potter series -- LOVE this love story (well, the book love story. Is it just me, or did the movies botch it?) Ginny loves Harry from the beginning, that's fine, but it's not until she focuses on developing herself as an individual that Harry really notices, appreciates, and then loves her in return. Their relationship develops from a one-sided crush to a love between equals.

9. Liesel and Rudy, The Book Thief -- Simple and sweet and perfect.

10. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night -- I have to admit, this is the only Dorothy Sayers book featuring these two I've read, but it is the one at the end of which Harriet finally accepts and returns Lord Peter's love. Huzzah for a love story of highly educated, intellectual equals! Their interaction is certainly fun to read.

What are your favorite literary love stories?