Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Little List of Love Stories

Sisterfilms requested a shorter list of ten novels per genre so that she could begin without feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of 1000 novels ahead. She also requested that they be drawn from a larger list, so I am using the Guardian's 1000 Novels. I'm only recommending books I've read myself, your results may differ. All but one (as far as I know) of these novels have been filmed at least once, but remember, seeing the movie is not the same as reading the book. The first category the Guardian has is Love, so here are 10 books dealing more or less with love. I'm listing them in chronological order by publication date.

1. Jane Austen, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Really, any of Austen's books would be fine, but this is my sentimental favorite because it's the first one I read. Sisterfilms and I are partial to the older BBC version with Colin Firth.

2. Charlotte Bronte, JANE EYRE. Quite different from Austen, much more melodramatic, but I think the story will grip you. Personally, I would not care to reread this periodically as I do Jane Austen, but I know there are many people who do. The book brings up many issues to think about.

3. Lev Tolstoy, ANNA KARENINA. Now we're getting to the bad girls. Non-Russian speakers may need to make a little chart to keep the characters straight, but it will be worth it.

4. Willa Cather, MY ANTONIA. A very American story set in Nebraska. Antonia is one of my favorite characters.

5. F. Scott Fitzgerald, THE GREAT GATSBY. Like all the books here really, this isn't just about love; love is always taking place in the context of society.

6. Ernest Hemingway, A FAREWELL TO ARMS. A love story as well as a World War I story. Interesting to contrast the writing styles of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

7. Daphne DuMaurier, REBECCA. This could equally well have been put in the Crime section, perhaps; although some might not class it with the foregoing "great works of literature," it's a story well told.

8. Boris Pasternak, DR. ZHIVAGO. A story of love and the Russian Revolution told by a poet. The love story ties it all together, but you will learn quite a bit of history by the way.

9. Kazuo Ishiguro, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. I wouldn't actually have classed this with the love stories, but I can see why it's there, and it's an excellent book.

10. Ahdaf Soueif, THE MAP OF LOVE. This is the one book listed here that has not been filmed, and I can't imagine why not unless it is the Egyptian setting. One of the best books I've read in the last 10 years. It might be a good one to start with, especially for Sisterfilms, who's read a bunch of other books about Middle Eastern women.

More anon! Feel free to argue with or add to my recommendations in comments.

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