14 February 2018

VALENTINES DAY SPECIAL: 10 of Our Favourite Literary Couples

Last valentines day we posted a bunch of books to help you get over a breakup and we decided this year to be less cynical and a little less bitter. Neither of us are mushy people but we're big suckers for any book with a complex relationship. Here are our favourite ten 'literary' couples. Comment your favourite below!!

This is definitely my favourite fictional romance from any of the books I've read. I love it because they are written in such a classic Joan Didion way ... so subtle that you'd almost not notice it. Elena is working on "one last job" for her father to get him out of trouble. Treat is the official working on her case. There aren't any love scenes and there aren't any declarations of love. It's not until the end that Didion writes:

'I read you too,' she said. Of course she did, of course he did. Of course they read each other. Of course they knew each other, understood each other, recognized each other, took one look and got each other, had to be with each other, saw the color drain out of what they saw when they were not looking at each other. They were the same person. They were equally remote."

God I am not a sap, but that is easily the most romantic passage I've ever read.

If you've been following this blog at all you'll know I think this is the most devastating love story that has ever been written. Almasy was a cartographer pre-World War II. He falls in love with his British business partner's wife Katherine Clifton and they begin an affair that lasts nearly ten years. 

She had grown older. And he loved her more now than he had loved her when he understood her better, when she was the product of her parents. What she was now was what she herself had decided to become."

She eventually ends it because of her family but her husband finds out anyways. Her husband attempts to kill all three of them by crashing his plane into the desert. *Spoiler alert* The husband dies, Katherine is injured, and Almasy is fine. Almasy places Katherine in a cave and promises to go find help and come back for her. He walks four days across the desert only to be locked up as a spy. 

Don't we forgive everything of a lover? We forgive selfishness, desire, guile. As long as we are the motive for it."

There is an amazing scene where he carries Katherine's dead body back across the desert. I sobbed like a baby reading this book, and the movie is just as good. Almasy and Katherine to me will always be the ultimate (although absolutely crippling) love story. 

One of the coolest fictional couples Meg and I got to see at TIFF this year. The book was beautifully written and the characters were certainly fleshed out, but what sold me on this couple were the beautiful shots of beaches and the wardrobes in the film adaptation. I feel like everyone romanticizes the ocean (a major motif in the book), and who can think of a better place to fall in love than a remote French hotel on the sea side? Freezing cold after long strolls on the beach and then getting cozy by the fire place? Alicia Vikander wears UGGS and glasses on a string in this ... she is also constantly wearing a rain coat and I wish people were attracted to me when I wear a rain coat... alas...

I will admit there's a nostalgic element to this... Meghan and I both idealized Remy and Dex in our teens (something that really clinched our friendship). Remy was this cool, no-attachments, doesn't-believe-in-love character (someone Meghan and I love to think we identify with but couldn't be further from) and Dex was this corny musician, Seth Cohen type of character. Dex pursues Remy throughout the book and Remy pushes him away and *spoiler* they end up together, duh. I think about this couple a lot for absolutely no reason and this list seemed incomplete without them. I was going to include a quote but they were all very cheesy. I imagine I'd cringe reading this now, remembering how 16-year old me loved it so much. 

I think this is my most realistic choice. There isn't any romance and it certainly isn't ideal, but it is definitely the most real. Their relationship starts with Patty pursuing Walter's best friend Richard - a deadbeat, uncaring musician - and then crawling back to him after things don't go as planned. Her plea for Walter crushes my heart every time I read it:

'He wasn't nice to me,' she said through tears. 'And you're the opposite of that. And I so, so, so need the opposite of that right now. Can you please be nice?' 'I can be nice,' he said, stroking her head. 'I swear you won't be sorry.' These were exactly her words, in the autobiographer's sorry recollection."

After this encounter Patty and Walter eventually get married and have children. Then Patty starts having an affair with old, shit-bag Richard again. Anyways, this book is a great story about the struggles of marriage and forgiveness. As my friend Stefan said, the relationships are so real in the book it is actually painful to read at times.

This is easily one of my favourite fiction novels. I have to have read it nearly twenty times. The book is about two best friends who spend their summers on Martha's Vineyard (a location I romanticize) and fall in love with two guys named Von and Bru. I always loved Victoria (Vix). She was quieter, excited when a popular girl showed an interest in her, and really values friends, family, and a shared history. She never knows what she wants and it takes a toll on her relationships with both Caitlin and Bru. Vix and Bru had one of those complicated relationships that stops, starts and kind of evolves overtime. My favourite thing about them is that despite really loving each other, and all the history they shared, they don't end up together. These are the kind of relationships I love and need to be reading about. 

I guess this is a cynical choice for me seeing as neither are really happy together nor do we assume that they stay together, BUT there is also some reality to their relationship that I respect / crushes me. They sort of acknowledge together that they weren't each other's first choice, and even that the love of their lives is someone they know but can't be with:

She was scrabbling in the drawer for the corkscrew, and then she turned and regarded me bleakly. 'Listen,' she said. 'I don't expect you to understand but it's rough to be in love with the wrong person.'"

This is so simply put, and I understand out of context it may not be as jarring, but this passage really stuck with me. I have always been really obsessed with narratives where someone can't seem to pull themselves away from a significant other who is CLEARLY completely wrong for them on all levels, and who treats them so poorly. It was the only redeeming story line in Martin Scorsese's Casino. There's something honest and heartbreaking about it.

Anyways, this certainly isn't a happy couple, but it is one I think about A LOT.

I LOVE this marriage. It is definitely not something that should be idealized but it's so entertaining. Lady Macbeth is definitely in charge of their marriage and knows their enemy Duncan needs to be killed for her family to maintain their power. Because she's a woman, she can't kill him herself, so she spends most of the book manipulating her husband into doing it. She questions his manhood to a point where he NEEDS to kill Duncan just to prove himself to his wife. If we can forget the part where after she's so guilt ridden she goes mad... Lady Macbeth is a massively underrated feminist icon. I know Shakespeare is sometimes difficult and overwhelming to read, but if you can get past the iambic pentameter she throws some amazing insults her husband's way. One of my favourites is her calling him "infirm of purpose". Like imagine saying that to your HUSBAND? I love her.

I mean are you even surprised? I know that we were technically talking about fictional characters, but Didion and Dunne have inserted their personal lives into every single thing they have ever written. That's why I love them as both writers and as a couple.

I could easily write a 3000 word essay on my deep respect and obsession with this couple but I'll try to keep it brief. Didion and Dunne are extensions of each other, they were CONSTANTLY together. They would write in separate rooms but would always be calling out to each other to read something over, give advice, or think through an idea. They would also carry notebooks everywhere and would often write the same observations down. They agreed that whoever used the material first had the rights to it.

I am envious of this relationship because I crave that closeness. I don't want my relationship to be my life, but still, I have always been drawn to that kind of openness and dependency.

They also had A LOT of problems ... and it wasn't until I read Tracy Daughtery's biography of Didion that I was able to finally stop idealizing them to the extreme.

Sigh. Popular, bad boy Landon falls in love with religious, nerdy, outcast Jamie who is also *spoiler* dying of cancer. Outside of Sarah Dessen, Jamie and Landon were my first novel romance and I still can't get over them. This book inspired losers everywhere to think they could land the most popular guy in school by just cutting their bangs and being super sweet because it was sooooo unrealistic but that's the best part about it. Landon tattooing her shoulder? Landon having his mother teach him how to dance? Landon building her that telescope and driving to ask his estranged father for money for her treatments in the middle of the night with Switchfoot playing? Yes please. Yes to all of it. Every girl wanted a Landon. Meghan and I watched the film adaptation on DVD before I had internet set up at one of my old apartments and towards the end I said "man it's really cold in here" and she goes "same I just got a chill"... then we both realized we were just getting a shiver from the cheesy speech Shane West delivers at the very end. I feel he was robbed of an Academy Award for this performance. 


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