By Tara Ghias, Third Year History
Since love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is upon us, I thought it would be the perfect time to revisit some of my favourite romantic novels. Even if you are not looking for just romance, these stories include other themes just as engaging such as friendship, family and exploration. There are countless more novels I could have included but here are my top four picks...
The Duke & I by Julia Quinn
The hit tv-show Bridgerton graced our tv screens at the end of the year, and since becoming the most watched series on Netflix, reaching over 60 million households, it is now the best time to pick up the books by Julia Quinn. The story of the Bridgerton family starts with The Duke & I, following Daphne Bridgerton and her subsequent love life involving the enigmatic Duke of Hastings.
While the writing and quality may not be incredible, it is a feel-good read interweaving love, history, friendships and family into one. Think of it as gossip girl but set in the early 19th century with the infamous Lady Whistledown informing you of all the events surrounding the formal season in London.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
An absolute classic when it comes to romantic reads, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has cemented its position as one of the greatest love stories of all time.
Similarly to The Duke & I it is sent during regency England, and tracks the tumultuous relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and the brooding Mr Darcy. The original enemies to lovers story, this trope has been popularised throughout many stories in the following decades after Austen’s publication and it does not seem like it will die out anytime soon as well.
There have been several adaptations of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy’s story to the screen, including a very handsome, young Colin Firth walking through the mist in that infamous lake scene.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
If you’re looking for something with a bit more adventure along with your daily dose of romance, then Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is the perfect fit for you. Set in present day 1945, a young woman named Claire visits Scotland for a holiday and then manages to travel back into time to 18th century, gets wrapped up in the Anglo-Scottish war on the borders and falls in love with a highlander.
The series has become widely read among readers of all ages, especially after the release of the STARZ tv adaptation of the books. The love story of Claire and Jamie has the elements you want in a well-written, fleshed out relationship; if you want history, drama and love then Outlander is a perfect choice.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reed
A more contemporary read, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a breath-taking story revolving around the fictional Hollywood starlet Evelyn Hugo and her tumultuous seven husbands. Recalling her story in the glitz and glamour of 1950s and 1960s film industry, the book magnifies the sexism and elitism present in Los Angeles during cinema’s golden age, as the Cuban born, bisexual Evelyn navigates her rise to stardom.
Love is a key theme of this novel, along with aspects of race, sexuality and misogynistic values; it is not afraid to shy away from controversial topics, adding more depth to its characters and the reality of human nature. It is a heart-breaking tale of loving someone who is deemed wrong in society’s eyes and never truly being accepted by a world who adores not you, but the crafted image you present of yourself.
Featured Image: Epigram / Tara Ghias
What have you been reading this month?