First of all, I'm with Sir Paul.
They keep writing them; I'll keep reading them.
Now, I don't read love stories for their own sake. I'm not sure that love is the whole point, although it was the first subject that William Faulkner mentioned in his 1950 Nobel Prize banquet speech.
I'm more for love with complications. I'm for love under stress, which isn't love under the volcano, or love under the sun on the French Riviera.
And so all the love stories I love to love are stories of love that might not have prospered ... or didn't.
Here are the top ten, in reverse order.
'Love Story,' 1970, by Erich Segal. Okay, what CAN you say about a 24-year-old girl who has died? I happen to like crying.
'Anna Karenina' 1877, by Leo Tolstoy. As my mother said once, "Now, there is a book that takes all the fun out of adultery."
'Brokeback Mountain,' 1997, first published in The New Yorker by Annie Proulx. I don't get why people snigger over this and refer to it as the gay 'Butch and Sundance,' when it's not. Not at all. At least from Ennis' point of view, it's a desperate story, about finding once-in-a-lifetime love in a very inconvenient way.
'Ragtime,' 1975, by Edgar Doctorow. This is a story about great love (between Coalhouse and Sarah), lost love (between Mother and Father), found love (Mother and Tateh), and the love of justice. Called the perfect musical, it also is, in many ways, the perfect novel.
'Lonesome Dove,' 1985, by Larry McMurty. Well-deserving of the Pulitzer Prize, this the great bro-romance, between two friends, and each of their love for one hard-hearted woman.
'Wuthering Heights,' 1847, by Emily Bronte. It remains one of the most remarkable books of its time, or any time, and one of the greatest stories of obsession, and one of the best and scariest ghost stories. If everyone in it were not so damnably awful and unlikeable, it would be higher on my list, because I adore it and have read it fourteen times. "I know that ghosts HAVE wandered on earth. Be with me always--take any form--drive me mad! only DO not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!" Well, there you have it. I taught my son to quote this to girls he was courting; it never failed.
'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro. This 2008 dystiopian Booker Prize winner is, I think, one of the most haunting love stories ever written. Talk about love ... not at the beach.
'Charlotte's Web,' 1952, by E. B. White. It's not a romance, but tells of one of the greatest loves of all time. It's rare to find a true friend and a good writer.
'Jane Eyre,' 1847, by Charlotte Bronte. Nathaniel Hawthorne reportedly couldn't stand our Charlotte. With good reason. She did it better. Way.
'The Once and Future King,' 1958, by T. H. White. Arthur and Guenivere and Lancelot, and how an undenaible May-September romance laid waste to a great king, a great realm and a great, great idea. But, oh dear, what a way to go.
And my favorite of all ...
Despite the fact that the anti-hero combines the best (and some of the worst) traits of Heathcliffe and Mr. Rochester, is sort of a murderer and some would say an emotional bigamist, and despite the fact that the unnamed narrator has no discernible personality, is in the dictionary under "gullible," and longs be be forty years old and wear pearls, I would gladly dream every night that last night I went to Manderley again, if only to meet up with Mrs. Danvers face to face. While I like 'Rebecca' (1938) best, I think that it's possible that Daphne du Maurier (who also wrote 'Don't Look Now' and 'The Birds') is the most underrated writer of the 20th century. Of all the love stories here mentioned, it's the most traditional.
'Second Nature: A Love Story,' while it is the prize on Redroom this week, is anything but a traditional love story. It's about romantic love, and acceptance of one's own being, and the love of a mother for a child, and a grown child for her three god-mothers -- an aunt, a photographer and a burn surgeon. I mention it here, in hopes you'll agree it merits, if not this list, at least a look.
I know that's twelve stories.
But that's the way love goes.
Causes Jacquelyn Mitchard Supports
National MS Society, Women Against MS, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, One Writer's Place