I say I don’t read a lot of romance but maybe I do now. I think what I really mean is I tend to prefer romance at a distance or alongside something else so I am not constantly anticipating the downfall of the relationship. Here is how I got on with three books that include a love storyline.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Sitting at 200 pages, Persuasion is a fairly accessible Austen book. It is, of course, about love and marriage, Wentworth being the man in question. It is what we would call now a second-chance love story. Our protagonist was persuaded not to marry the man she loved because he wasn’t wealthy enough. Years later their paths meet again and Wentworth has done well for himself but the pain and misunderstanding of the past prevents them from communicating their long-standing feelings. The civility of Austen books makes it easier for me to handle the emotional hurt in romance plots so I can say I enjoyed reading this book in the sun in the garden.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
It is hard to be a feminist writer and not want to consume everything Virginia Woolf has written. The only book of hers I had read before this was To the Lighthouse. I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the craft of that book not really understanding what her craft was so I should probably give it a reread. Mrs Dalloway definitely has an unusual craft to it as well. This book is a stream of unconsciousness with no traditional structure at all. Gliding in and out of different characters thoughts and feelings we follow Mrs Dalloway throughout her day before her party. We also hear from a WW1 veteran who’s mental health has been severely impacted by what he experienced. It is the least romantic of all of these books but it does examine the marriages of the two main characters we follow. There are no chapters just a flow of words which did make me want to keep reading but it could be overwhelming and hard to keep up with at times. It was an interesting read that’s for sure.
The Words in my Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd
I picked up this book because it was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards and I can see why. It is very well written with beautiful imagery and a ride of a plot. This book will break your heart. It is set in Amsterdam in the 1600s. From the beginning, you know the romance can’t work out despite their intense emotions. Throughout the book you watch their romance crack under the weight of social expectations, willing them to succeed. At times I didn’t like this book, not because it was bad, but because it hurt me emotionally to read. Take from that what you will.