Do You Adore Old-Fashioned Romance?
Do you love secondhand stores, especially those that sell silver and hand-embroidered linen? You know the kind: staffed by an old lady and her dog; the rooms smell faintly of talcum powder and every item is labelled with a hand-written price tag?
If you’re like me, you love these places because they remind you of old-fashioned romance novels. Novels that feature independently minded women, gorgeous dresses and all-conquering love.
So … because it’s a wet day and I’m feeling nostalgic, I thought I’d share a list of my favourite romantic couples with you.
Hope you enjoy!
Top Fictional Romances
1. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blyth.
Who can forget the wonderful Anne-with-an-e Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, and the foolish boy who called her ‘carrots’? At first she hates Gilbert Blyth, but as she grows into adulthood she learns he was only seeking her attention.
One of the things I most loved about the Anne of Green Gables series was how the books continued after marriage.
This isn’t just a kiss-and-happily ever after romance; this is a long-term relationship!
I’ve not watched the Netflix TV series yet, but I loved the 80s TV version. Here’s a clip.
2. Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder
Okay, so this isn’t fictional; in the Little House in the Big Woods series Laura really did marry her Almanzo. But the way the stories are crafted reads like fiction. There’s the build-up, the tensions and finally the happily-ever-after resolution.
I think this was deliberate. Wilder’s earliest foray into writing was in writing non-fiction; she later crafted the Little House series into fiction, possibly to help it sell.
Like Anne and Gilbert, the series continue past the wedding, and because it’s based on real-life we know that Laura and Almanzo remained together until his death at age 92. Oh, how romantic!
3. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester
I have mixed feelings about this romance. After all, in Jane Eyre Rochester keeps his first wife locked up! How could anyone love such a man? But despite my modern ideals I can’t help seeing him through Jane’s eyes, and she is totally besotted.
The main reason that this is romance number 3 is the ending: ‘Dear reader, I married him.’ What a perfect, perfect ending!
4. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy
Mr Darcy’s name is actually Fitzwilliam, but he’s only ever known as ‘Mr.’ in Pride and Prejudice.
Why do I love this romance? Partly (if I’m being honest) is because of Colin Firth’s starring role in the BBC TV series!
But the other great thing about this novel is how Mr Darcy changes.
When Pride and Prejudice begins he is too proud to invite Elizabeth dance (even though he acknowledges her as “tolerable”), and his first proposal is absolutely terrible! But by the end of the narrative he admits his mistakes. So in Pride and Prejudice, the heroine rescues the hero.
5. Hero Wantage and Antony (Lord) Sheringham
Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer, is one of my fave period romances.
I mentioned Heyer in my last blog post. She wrote over twenty regency romances, and this is one of the best.
Friday’s Child is about Hero, who faces a future as a governess and her neighbour, Viscount Sheringham, who is in desperate need of a wife. Their runaway marriage creates chaos for their families and friends, but in saving his young bride, the erratic Antony finally learns maturity.
This is a hilarious book, because all the characters are just so stupid! It’s a perfect rainy day read.
6. Gwendolin Fairfax and John Ernest Worthing
The Importance of Being Earnest isn’t a novel; it’s a play, but who cares? This is Oscar Wilde at his funniest. Although Gwendolin and John are gorgeously earnest in their nature, I have a sneaking love for Algernon Moncrieff, Cecily Cardew, and of course, Lady Bracknell.
JACK: Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?
GWENDOLEN: I can. For I feel that you are sure to change.
If you get a chance, do watch the Rupert Everett/Colin Firth version (Colin Firth seems to be a common thread of this post). I’ve posted a clip here, just to whet your appetite.
7. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler
Despite not being a happily-ever-after, Gone With the Wind is the archetype of character romance. The passion between the main characters is so intense that it’s easy to overlook the ‘frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,’ ending.
I love how Scarlett transforms from society belle to independent woman. I love Rhett’s air of danger. But mostly I adore the setting; this book takes the reader into another world. Gone With the Wind is one of those addictive reads that are almost impossible to put down.
And for this particular story, even though the movie is a classic and the costumes are amazing, I prefer the book.
What do you prefer? Book or movie? And which romances do you love?