By Yazmin Sadik, Second Year English
Whether Valentine’s Day makes you want to absorb yourself in heart-wrenching love, or wrench the love out of this month, I have a list of books for you this February. The enemies to lovers arc has a major hold on romance literature, but this list will start with inseparable couples who have you romanticising life, and end with those who are so problematic you start to idealise even your parents’ relationship.
Written on the Body (1992) – Jeanette Winterson
“You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them.”
In Written on the Body, Winterson strips the love of an unnamed narrator for a married woman down to the bone, exposing raw emotions that are undisturbed by the complexities of gender or sexuality. Instead, shared words and physical touch are all that is left to code their desires.
Humorously absurd in parts and brutally real in others, Winterson’s poetic voice reveals how past relationships, however long ago, will forever inform the present.
Normal People (2018) – Sally Rooney
“like two little plants sharing the same plot of soil, growing around one another, contorting to make room, taking certain unlikely positions.”
Adapted into the iconic BBC series Normal People, Sally Rooney’s book provides a comfortingly relatable study of introverted youth.
Marianne and Connell’s relationship develops from the privacy of their homes, hiding against the judgment of their school, but as they outgrow their hometown they must learn to uproot not only themselves but their understanding of love. As they settle into the unfamiliar environment of university, uninfluenced by the past, their social worlds interchange and Rooney focuses on how this alters their dynamic as a couple.
Reflecting on how past trauma is often projected on to partners and the complex interplay between a healthy and unhealthy sex life, the book mediates it all.
Wuthering Heights (1847) – Emily Brontë
“He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”
Merging the psychological gothic with romance, Emily Brontë depicts the tragic fates of Catherine and Heathcliff, a young boy adopted as an orphan into her household. Despite the shared domestic setting generating an intense connection between the two, in adulthood their passion is revealed as unsustainable within their social climate.
As the book progresses, the tortured Heathcliff consumes himself with revenge, whilst Catherine’s presence haunts the pages and her lover’s mind. Here Brontë begins to complicate the boundaries between the living and the dead.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Lily Mcculloch
What's your favourite romance book?