6 Books for 6 Different Romantics
1. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
This is the quintessential love story of all time. A favorite of romantics who are not afraid of tackling the Elizabethan language of the English bard. Of course, the reader can always start with simplified versions, or watch one of the many movies based on the tragedy, before delving into the real thing. A seminal play, which has originated all kinds of spin–offs in the most different artistic media, Romeo and Juliet tells the story of the unyielding love of a teenage couple made impossible by the rivalry and hatred between their aristocratic families, the Montagues and the Capulets, in the Verona of the XIV century. Italian Director Franco Zeffirelli turned 15-old-actress Olivia Hussey into the definite face of Juliet for moviegoers all over the world from 1968 onwards.
2. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.
One of the most beloved novels of all time, this single output from writer Emily Bronte has fired the imagination of generations of readers since its publication in 1847. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, the love of Catherine and Heathcliff, the protagonists of Wuthering Heights, is hampered by the difference of social class and the practical decision of the heroine to marry into wealth and security. Heathcliff, a boy of gypsy origin brought home by Catherine’s father during a trip to Liverpool, grows up in their household, becoming inseparable from Catherine in their games and adventures around the bleak moors of Yorkshire, despite the hatred he provokes in Catherine’s older brother, Hindley. In one of their plays, however, Catherine and Heathcliff trespass onto the property of their neighbors, the Lintons. Catherine gets bitten by the family dog and needs to spend some time in their house to recover from the injury. During this period, Catherine and young Edgar Linton develop a close friendship and end up getting married, despite the visceral love she still holds for Heathcliff, who is devastated by her decision. But he will not take the defeat lying down. Ideal for readers who thrive on stories of fiery passion, set against the backdrop of a harsh and unforgiving landscape.
3. High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
This novel is about what contemporary post-macho guys’ lives are like; how they never know what to do when they come across the right girl; their blunders, doubts, insecurities and romantic yearnings. Rob Flemming, the main character and narrator, has just been left by his girlfriend. He runs an old-fashioned record store in London and has an obsession for keeping lists: the top 5 anything related to music. The book is both hilarious and touching due to its authenticity and the charisma of the protagonist. It may teach girls about boys, but I have a feeling it resonates more with guys, who can totally identify with the predicaments of Rob’s.
4. Dona Flor e seus Dois Maridos (Dona Flor and her Two Husbands), by Jorge Amado.
Set against the backdrop of Brazilian author Jorge Amado’s native and colorful town Salvador, Bahia, in the first half of the XX century, Dona Flor is a hilarious account of a woman who enjoyed a passionate and sexually heightened marriage with Vadinho, a typical local malandro, which is the Portuguese word for a man who lives off women, leads a bohemian life, loves prostitutes and gambling. Flor is the sweet and lovable family breadwinner, running a small but popular cooking school, while Vadinho spends the nights in debauchery. It turns out the extravagant life of Vadinho comes to a sudden end, when he has a heart attack while partying wildly during Carnival. Flor becomes one of the most sought after widows in town, but she bravely resists the pursuit of her suitors, until the respectable, conventional and financially stable local pharmacist Teodoro comes along. They marry and live happily. But Flor yearns for the wild sexual life she had with Vadinho. Her desire is so strong that Vadinho’s ghost comes back to satisfy her. Nobody can see or sense him, except for Flor. Despite her initial resistance, she finally manages to accommodate both men in her life.
5. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Written by another of the famous Bronte sisters, 19-year-old Jane Eyre’s love for the mature Mr Rochester, in whose house she works as a governess, is more contained than Wuthering Heights Catherine’s passion, but as turbulent and complicated. Right after marrying her boss, Jane finds out that the mysterious noises and cries she has been hearing in the middle of the night since her arrival at the house come from the former Mrs Rochester, her husband’s first wife. Insane and violent, the woman is kept hidden in a locked room in the upper floors, looked after by a maid. Jane runs away determined to never see Mr Rochester again. But an unlikely turn of events changes things for the better.
6. The Great Gastby, by F. Scott Fizterald
Considered by many one the masterpieces of North American literature, The Great Gatsby is as much a love story as a deep and critical study of the American dream. It’s a book for more sophisticated readers, who want to go beyond a simple romantic story and reflect on every nuance of the cultural context and background it takes place in. The Great Gatsby will not disappoint those readers, as it tells the story of a mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby – with a dark past - who buys a mansion in Long Island, across the bay from the house of someone who was once the love of his life, the aristocratic Daisy Buchanan, married to Tom, an ex-jock and unfaithful husband with good looks. The story, which takes place in the roaring 1920s, is narrated by Nick Carraway, a cousin of Daisy’s, who keeps the necessary detachment to convey to the reader that she is the beacon that guided Gatsby’s path towards everything he always wished for: access to the extravagant and excessive life style of the rich (the dirty origin of his money is only explained at the end of the book), acceptance by the upper classes and respectability. Poetic and brutal, The Great Gatsby is a novel you can’t help getting back to once you first read it. Skip the terrible movie versions, and enjoy this unforgettable story.