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18 February 2011

BTT: Romantic

Booking Through Thursdays asks:
What’s the most romantic book you’ve ever read? (Mind you, I don’t mean the hard-core stuff you hide in plain wrappers under your mattress. I mean True Love, Romance, deeply emotional, heart-tugging, and all that stuff.) And, secondly, did you like it? Is it your usual kind of reading, or did it take you by surprise?

So. BBT wants to know about our romantic books… I think I want to throw a curve ball! You all know that I read paranormal romance and the odd category, so you already know that I could write a lot about those. But truth to tell, some of those aren’t terribly romantic. But that is a story for another day. I should state that I don’t read romance because I am a romantic. I don’t believe in happy endings, but it is nice to read about them.

So here are some alternate suggestions:

I would actually say the The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is one of the most romantic AND tragic books I have read. Jurgis has a lovely little wife, and although they are poor and living in the slums of industrial Chicago, even though they are working in horrendous conditions, he is content with his life because of her. And then Ona dies and it all goes to shit. In every way imaginable! People die, waste away, turn to prostitution, turn to crime, turn to the road, turn to the worst jobs you can imagine. After Ona dies, there is no hope, no light, there is just survival in any way they can. What he goes through after her death just shows how much light she gave to his life. I know people will argue that this isn’t romantic, but think of it as Romeo and Juliet but Romeo lives.

Persuasion by Jane Austen. I know everyone always goes on about Pride and Prejudice, but I think this one is more romantic. It is circumstances keeping Wentworth and Anne apart, not their own conceit. The ending is quite sweet and not as trite as P&P.

Merlin’s Keep by Madeline Brent. Jani and Adam are very well matched. They meet when he is an officer and she is an orphaned girl in Mustang. He nurses her through diphtheria in the Himalayas and gets her to a hospital, and acquires passage and a place in a girl’s home for her. She doesn’t know his name, just calls him Mister in her funny second hand cockney accent. Pages turn, lives are lived, and then they meet again when she is in her twenties. He is blind and living in poverty, hiding from his former life, and she reunites him with his elderly parents. Their love is unrequited, each hiding from the other for their various reasons, until the other thread of the story intertwines theirs and the suspense kicks in. The scene where he rides up the hill to her like only Jani Burr, the hillsmen of Mustang or “Mister!” could? Believe me, that is totally sigh-worthy! Even a jaded individual would be swept away with the way those words are written on the page. The story isn’t just the story of Jani and Adam, but of the family she adopts when she leaves the orphanage, the occult, alchemy and the Buddhist world she grew up in. Merlin’s Keep is still one of my favourite books after all these years. I first read it when I was ten, and read it at least once a year. It is intertwined with mystery, the occult, alchemy, Buddhism, adventure, dread and love, all in a lovely antiquated Victorian wrapper.

I found it really interesting that I couldn’t think of any modern sweeping tales that were romantic. How about you? What non-romance romantic novels have you read and did you enjoy them.

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