In my opinion, there is no greater expression of love than the written word, perhaps because I’m about as smooth as a dirt road in person and writing has always been my preferred method of communication. There is undeniable romance to be found within the pages of thousands of books, but not every love story is as inspiring as the five I have selected for you today. So, step aside Anna and Christian, quit your yammering Romeo and Juliet, take your sparkles elsewhere Bella and Edward, we are here to talk about real damn love.
Westley and Buttercup — The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Are you shocked? This is Geek Bomb: We love The Princess Bride here.
When I was a kid, my mom ruined my romantic expectations for life by first showing me the movie and then following that up by offering to let me borrow her copy of the book. After I devoured the book, I got completely lost in romantic fantasies; that was my awakening as a hopeless romantic.
In my mind, there is no greater love story in literature or film. My heart flutters anytime someone says, “As you wish” to me. The cultural impact of this couple is undeniable. The other sweetest couple of all time, Ben and Leslie from Parks and Recreation, even dressed as Westley and Buttercup for Halloween once. The tale of Buttercup and her farm boy is beautiful, hilarious, and fantastic. From rodents of unusual size to literal death, this pair faces a world of difficult, but their love endures and they finally get their happy ending.
Jack and Ennis — Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
I have never read a more raw and evocative love story than this. If you are looking for heartwarming love and precious moments, stay away from this short story — it will ruin your soul.
Most recognizable as the movie version starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain is the tale of two gruff country boys that fall in love while working together looking after sheep during the summer of 1963. The emotional connection the men have is so strong, it stretches over the next twenty years; both men eventually have wives and children, but their love never dies. They meet up for clandestine liaisons even after they have married women and appear to all concerned as straight, family men. As uncouth as it is for two married men to carry on behind their wives’ backs, the sexual chemistry between them is palpable, haunting, and unquestionably romantic.
Anne and Gilbert — Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I’m Canadian, I was raised on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books, and I’ve always felt the love between Anne and Gilbert was overwhelming and intoxicating.
From the moment he sees her, Gilbert is smitten with Anne, an orphan with a disposition as fiery as her vibrant red hair. The two become scholastic competitors, slinging barbs at one another though Gilbert is completely infatuated with the younger girl. Anne even breaks her slate over Gil’s head in a moment of anger and passion. Over the years, they grow up and build a charming friendship, but Anne takes up with another man, a humourless man that shall remain nameless, and it seems that friendship is all that’s in the cards for these crazy kids.
While it takes some time for the two to finally accept the love story laid out before them, when Gilbert gets a second chance at proposing to Anne, she doesn’t hesitate to say yes to her longtime friend. As previously mentioned, I was raised on these books, so this is one of my favourite love stories of all time, plus there is something so perfectly Canadian about these two.
Henry and Clare — The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is another love story that is as beautiful as it is tragic. This novel tells the tale of Henry and Clare: Henry has a rare genetic disorder that causes involuntary time-traveling ,and Clare is his devoted wife. Over the course of the book, Henry and Clare’s lives intersect in so many ways — from her childhood to the distant future where they have a daughter together — but they truly cherish the time they have together in the present.
If time travel sounds like fun, consider that Henry has little to no control over when and where he travels to; in fact, it can even be triggered by stress. Imagine how difficult it would be to maintain a normal love life when, at the slightest irritation, you could suddenly be transported to the middle of a forest in Michigan with no idea what year it is. To carry on a relationship with someone that disappears constantly would be so difficult, which is why this resilient couple made this list. Clare loves Henry so much that she sacrifices any chance at normal life so she can spend her days waiting for Henry. That is serious devotion.
Aragorn and Arwen — The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Found in Appendix A, this story is probably more familiar to most as one of the (slightly unnecessary) subplots of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Aragorn is a mortal man of great character, and Arwen is a beautiful half-elf maiden and the daughter of the Lord of Rivendell, Elrond. The age difference between the two is literally thousands of years, but that doesn’t stop them from falling madly in love. After meeting her in Rivendell, Aragorn waits 30 years before reuniting with Arwen in Lórien, and it is there that the two commit themselves to one another forever. By pledging herself to Aragorn, Arwen forfeits her chance at the immortality available to her as the daughter of Elrond. If the idea of vampires giving the gift of immortality to a loved one is used as a benchmark for true love, imagine the sacrifice of giving up your chance at living forever just so you can spend as many years as possible with your love.
That wraps up this list, but I want to know who your favourite literary couples are! Which pair gets your heart racing?