Fancy snuggling up with a vaguely love-related book this Valentine’s Day? Here’s our top picks:
Two sisters live in a run-down English castle with their stepmother and their father, who has writer’s block and is in financial difficulties (something which most authors can sympathise with!). When their new American landlords appear on the scene you think you can guess which way this story is heading. Told through Cassandra’s diary entries, this is a warm, gentle novel with flawed and believable characters who have something to teach us about love. Try this if you’re looking for a feel-good book that isn’t too demanding.
With the recent series of War & Peace on TV, Tolstoy is the man of the moment. Anna Karenina is one of the world’s classic and best-known love stories, but it’s also about so much more. Don’t expect it to be all about Anna; there is a big cast of characters and it’s about themes and concepts as much as plot. Try this if you want to get your teeth into something seriously intellectual but massively rewarding.
One of the few English-language novels set in Sri Lanka. Yes, the conflict between Sinhalese and Tamils is a theme, but it’s mainly about a relationship. Two people develop a delicate, tentative relationship and are forced apart just as they find each other. For the rest of the story we follow each of them. Will they or won’t they find each other again? This book is dark at times but with a bright streak of hope at its core. The author is also a visual artist and it shows, not just in the way she describes Nulani drawing and painting, but in the way she uses language throughout. Try this if you’re in the mood for something with violence and beauty.
Another classic, set in London during World War II. At first glance the story seems like a simple concept – Maurice hires a private detective to find out why his ex-lover, Sarah, ended their relationship. There are other themes going on, though, around religion and philosophy. These are woven into the story in a way that makes them real rather than preachy or intellectual. Try this if you’ve split up with someone and you’re in the mood to wallow.
This novel definitely isn’t bleak or dark. Set in Brisbane, it follows Richard – the narrator – after he gets dumped by his girlfriend. He’s self-deprecating and funny, and you can’t help wanting his life to get a bit less crap. Will he get the girl in the end? Try this if you’ve been dumped and need something to make you smile.
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