I love reading romances especially the ones which takes me through the emotions, the longings, heart breaks and gets me completely involved in the outcome of the love story. As a teenager, I would devour Mills & Boon books and photo romances. I am not sure if there are any photo romances around. I haven’t seen one since I left school. For the un-initiated, Photo romances were like graphic novels of love stories. Instead of illustrations, there were photos. The heroes and heroines were very beautiful with wistful expressions. We used to smuggle them into classrooms and read them during recess. But like the M&Bs, they were quick one time reads. I did get over it as I grew older. But there are some books which are eternally cherished.
With Valentines day around, love is indeed in the air. That is what the media and marketing folks want you to think anyways. For those looking for some romance, I am listing down books which I enjoyed and have re-read them. The list does not include M&Bs and its only the books I have read. I have read Nicholas Sparks but did not enjoy it so much, not even the movie. I like the Twilight series movies but, did not read the book. Danielle Steel I liked but her heroines are always in distress. I like my heroines to be independent with a mind of their own. So, here is the non-exhaustive list –
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen : It has to be top of my list. I still love Mr. Darcy. He is rich, handsome, arrogant and hopelessly in love in Elizabeth who simply rejects his proposal. This novel set in the 18th century English country with very British manners is a classic. It’s mostly aspirational. Poor girl meets the rich guy. Rich guy loves poor girl and is willing to do anything to make her love him. It still resonates even after 125 years of publishing. Simply unputdownable. Those who do not want to read it, do watch the BBC Series of the same name starring Colin Firth. It is the best adaptation with the same original dialogues. Heres my favourite quote –
“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
- The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough : When Meggie meets Father Ralph de Bricassart as an 8-year-old, she never imagines how life would change for her. As she grows older, she is infatuated by him and finally loves him. It is a hopeless love which will never let them be together. Father Ralph who goes on to become Cardinal and then moves to Rome, is not even aware of the son he has through Meggie. He comes to know about his existence for a very short time just before his son dies. It is a sad love story but one which pulls at your heart-strings.
“The bird with the thorn in its breast, it follows an immutable law; it is driven by it knows not what to impale itself, and die singing. At the very instant the thorn enters there is no awareness in it of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life left to utter another note. But we, when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still we do it. Still we do it.” – Meggie
- Love Story by Erich Segal : Many feel this small book is over-hyped. But, it was a bestseller and made into a movie not only in Hollywood but as Ankhiyon ke Jharokhon se in Hindi. I had read the book as a teenager and fell head over heels in love with Oliver. Call it infatuation, if you may. But I still remember the story after over 30 years and for that I would add it here.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” – Erich Segal, Love Story
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell : I loved the arguments and fights between Scarlet O Hara and Rhett Butler. Scarlet being so selfish and manipulating, but Rhett loving her the way she was. Scarlet never accepts her love for Rhett as she is in love with Ashley Wilkes who is in love with Melanie. Scarlet tries many tricks to get Ashley to leave Melanie, but all in vain. But we have Rhett indulging Scarlet and falling in love with her. It is about two people with very opposite personalities getting attracted to each other. It’s the story of our lives.
“Well, my dear, take heart. Some day, I will kiss you and you will like it. But not now, so I beg you not to be too impatient.” ― Rhett Butler
- Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni : This one is strange. The book is on Mahabharat from Draupadi’s point of view. But the book also hints at an unspoken, unacknowledged romance between Draupadi and Karna. It is so subtle, yet made my heart ache. It is about a love which remains unsaid, unfulfilled. It has no hope of ever becoming true. But, yet it is love which both of them feel. Simply well brought out in the book.
“Love comes like lightning, and disappears the same way. If you are lucky, it strikes you right. If not, you’ll spend your life yearning for a man you can’t have.” – Draupadi
I just realised there are two unfulfilled loves in the list. Guess, I am affected by the sad endings more than the happy ones. But, isn’t it good to have loved and lost instead of never having loved at all? Among other books I read recently, I enjoyed the love stories anthology of Metro Diaries by Namrata. Due to my fondness for the history genre, I had recently found this book on NetGalley.com – The Timeless Love Romance Collection by Diann Mills containing 9 romances. It’s a beautiful, quick read.
Let me know some more romance authors and books which can be added to my TBR list.