Last year I dismissed the romantic focus of Valentine’s Day in favor of a more broad interpretation and celebration of love – in all it’s glorious forms. Revisit that post, All You Need Is Love, here. Surprisingly, this year I’m a feeling a bit more romantically inclined. This is due primarily to the fact that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the movie, comes out today. So perhaps my ideas of romance are misguided, but stick with me. We caught a glimpse of the trailer this past week and Shakespeare was completely taken in. This means she now has two books to plow through before we head to the theater- Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the Seth Grahame-Smith’s Zombie version.
For me, Pride and Prejudice is a model love story. As a Literature major I can dissect the novel to shreds if necessary, but I’d rather not. I prefer to just enjoy it. At the heart it is about two people trying to overcome the situational barriers between them, both real and imagined, and be together. Lizzy Bennett is an everygirl, and Darcy is the model for all the brooding, misunderstood, heartthrobs sprinkled through literature and popular novels for centuries. The book is a funny, smart, infuriating (oh, Lydia!), and a successful social commentary wrapped up in what amounts to a great love story.
Since I’m inspired to feel romantic this week I’m posting 10 Days of Love in Literature Get ready for hearts and heartbreak – and maybe a zombie or two!
Day 1: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. Lea and Gabe are perfect for each other – everyone can see it! Told through 14 different viewpoints of the people around them- the barista, the delivery guy, their professor, their friends – this charming story proves maybe love just needs a little nudge once in a while. It was the cover art that pulled me in and the concept that hooked me. This is the Valentine’s Day gift I ordered for Shakespeare and the kick-off book in my 10 Days of Love (because it is important to start on a positive note). YA
Day 2: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith. Lucy and Owen live in the same apartment building, but in different worlds. When a chance encounter leaves them trapped together in the elevator they can’t deny that the spark of interest they both feel. But Lucy is moving abroad and Owen’s heading west with his Dad. Follow their journey as they work to keep in touch and discover if there was more to their magical night worth holding onto. Smith has several other romantic teen reads including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between. I’m intrigued by Smith’s explorations of how to navigate love when faced with obstacles in being together. YA
Day 3: Nothing can match the romance of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. But if the standard Shakespeare version is a little heavy, and the language antiquated, give YOLO Juliet a try. Part of the OMG Shakespeare series, by Brett Wright (and Shakespeare), this modern retelling is entirely told through text messages adding a new dimension to the classic tale. Now, if you are like me, it never set well that Romeo loved Rosaline but was so quick to throw her over for Juliet. After only a few days they are willing to die for each other? For a revisionist telling, with a supernatural twist try Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay. After death Romeo and Juliet are now eternal enemies, battling for the souls of true lovers, and when Juliet finally finds her chance for her own happy ending, Romeo will do anything in his power to stop it. YA
Day 4: The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley. A romance that is truly from another time. When Eva returns to the Cornwall coast it is to finally find peace in the only place she’s every really felt at home. The loss of her sister has left her adrift and she finds security in old friends and a love that transcends centuries. I absolutely love all of Kearsley’s novels, but this was the first and it holds a special place in my heart. Mariana and The Winter Sea are two other romances that prove enduring love can bend the boundaries of time. MBS
Day 5: Love Story by Erich Segal. The ultimate classic, tragic romance. When undeniable attraction brings college students Oliver and Jenny together it seems their backgrounds and families are determined to keep them apart. However, it isn’t long before their romance becomes the type of true love to defy the odds. This quick read is a total tearjerker, so have the tissues on hand! YA
Day 6: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius. What if your true love has already been determined by a fortune teller? What happens when you think, you know, that fortune is wrong? Fallon has always know that when she gets to high school her fortune will be told by Zita, determining her true love. Then, like generations before her, she’ll go on to marry her high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. But this time Zita doesn’t predict true love and Fallon, with some other unhappy fortune recipients, starts a rebellion against a system in search of her own happy ending. This is a fun romance about taking destiny into your own hands! YA
Day 7: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Anna’s dreams of a perfect senior year, and finally getting together with her dream crush, are derailed when her dad ships her to Paris. It should be a dream come true and it almost is, except for her undeniable attraction to the adorable Etienne who is undeniably taken. Anna needs to figure out what it is she really wants, and who she wants. An adventure in first love! Follow up with Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After , independent stories that all intertwine. YA
Day 8: Forever . . . by Judy Blume. Katherine and Michael are in love, that all consuming first love that Katherine just knows is meant to be forever. She knows she’ll always feel this way about Michael as their relationship navigates the first experiences of real emotional and physical connection. But what happens when Katherine discovers she has feelings for someone else? This novel addresses the milestones of young relationships and confronts the reality of first sexual experiences. Making no apology for its frankness, Forever . . . turns the portrayal of teen romance on it head. Katherine, in a remarkable realistic portrayal, owns her sexuality and rather than being crushed by her first sexual encounter, finds herself opening to the opportunity of love even if her first relationship isn’t forever. Blume has given voice to generations of young women searching for authentic stories that accurately represent their experiences. I’m particularly fond of Forever . . . for it’s (unfortunately) unique perspective in which a young woman is the one to end a relationship rather than being broken by it. YA
Day 9: Maybe in Another Life: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. At this point in her life Hannah is admittedly a bit of a mess. So she ends her dead-end affair and heads home to California to start over, moving in with her best friend, and attempting to rekindle a long ago first love that she still believes might have potential. At a pivotal point she must decided to stay or go….and that decision changes the entire course of her life. An amazing look at how the smallest of choices impact our destiny, and whether or not we have only one true love or if their are multiple ways to find happiness and “the one”. MBS
Day 10: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig An American scholar, a handsome Brit, a research project, spies, history and a dual narrative make this the ideal lighthearted historical romance. This is the first book in a series spanning 12 novels and 2 short stories – all with their own historical love story. The characters, however, intertwine across the novels and modern lovebirds Eloise and Colin provide the structure for all the books. I adore this witty series – it is smart enough to keep me coming back for more, but an enjoyable easy read for lazy Sunday afternoons. MBS