Oh no! It’s Valentine’s Day! I’m so busy I forgot, I didn’t pay any attention to it, forgot about it, was too tired – oh I don’t know. I guess I don’t really care about Valentine’s Day that much. Nor, come to think of it, am I really interested in literary romances. Still, however, I do feel like I should spend some time on the so-called “most romantic day of the year”, if only to celebrate that it’ll be another twelve months until I have to spend time on it again. So, there we go, here’s a last-minute post about love… Sort of.
People have been telling each other love stories ever since they were capable of speech (I think; there are no sources, of course). But when, exactly, do we consider something a love story? Does it only mean that the beautiful or handsome main character has to fall in love with a beautiful or handsome stranger? Or does it have to be a friendship first, that develops into a romance? Or do they have to hate each other at the beginning, only to realise that they might actually have feelings for each other? And do they have to be good looking? And really, is that the only thing that matters in life?
There are two types of love story. Firstly, there’s the plot that revolves solely around love and the only thing that matters is whether they fall in love at the end of the story. Usually I do not really like this type of story, because it’s just a tiny bit too simple for me. However, sometimes I don’t care that the will-they-won’t-they kind of plot is more like an of-course-they-will-and-we-kind-of-saw-that-coming-straight-from-the-start. Sometimes I like reading a simple story, and sometimes I like the characters in it, and I am happy for them when they end up happily ever after. Take a look at the picture for some fairly simple love stories (but please, don’t read the one on the left for that one just doesn’t make sense, but the third one is fun to read).
The second type of love story is the one that is defined by external circumstances; sometimes two people fall in love, but it simply isn’t possible because of a class or monetary difference, or sometimes war doesn’t allow them to be together. To me, these stories have quite a bit more substance than the first category, which is why I usually prefer them. Here are some examples:
The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller is about the mythical Achilles, while Sally Rooney’s Normal People is about the lives of two millennials who simply won’t be honest to each other. Murakami’s Norwegian Wood shows that sometimes love isn’t enough to save someone, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (please remind me to write a post about that one soon!) is about how all the money in the world still may not be enough, This Lovely City by Louise Hare is about racism and prejudice in 1950s London, and Slumdog Millionaire is about prejudice and power abuse. All of them feature a beautiful, frustrating or doomed love story. None of these books, however, are my favourite.
My absolute favourite love story is not a tragic story. Nor is it a very serious one. This one actually made me laugh out loud because it is so very ridiculous. Written by William Goldman, it is supposed to be the fictional S. Morgenstern’s “Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure”, but instead it is a fairy tale spoof, shredding to pieces the idea of high versus low literature. There are giants, rats, six-fingered counts, revenge, swordfights, there is pain, there is death, there is overcoming death, and, of course, there is love. True Love, that is. And true love, as one of the characters claims in this novel, is “the best thing in the world, except for cough drops”. Well, there you have it. Please give it a try, for it’s an unforgettable novel. Even if it’s a simple love story.
I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I don’t like being forced to spend money on a seemingly random day. Furthermore, I hate books, movies, and songs that tell us that love is the only thing we need in order to be happy. It’s as though we are somehow only worthy as soon as we love someone and they love us back. As though lonely people are inferior to those who are in a relationship. No, thank you.
Still, though writing this post showed me that there are worse things to read than the occasional love story.
What is your favourite love story? Which literary romance made you cry? Do they have to die at the end, or do you prefer that you already know what’s going to happen straight from the start? Do let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me for more book-related posts!