Sunday, March 29, 2015

A little romance...

Again, by coincidence, my book clubs and personal reading have clumped around a common theme this month.


A four letter word, after all. And so many trillions of words spoken, sung and written on the subject.

What is love = more than a billion definitions on a google search.

The novels were all very different from each other but tell stories where the central characters overcome obstacles to win love, lose love and somehow gain it back. 

Come to think of it, in all four of these books people are redeemed or saved by love. They grow, they become heroic, they become less self-centered. They are motivated to act for the good of their beloved even when it causes them loss or pain.

Romantic love is all about the self, whereas true love (and its becoming), is more about the 'other' or the greater good. Instinct vs. spirituality. These books have varying measures of both kinds of love.

Longbourn,  Jo Baker
Historical fiction (BPYC Book club)
What a great premise to tell the story of parallel lives. The servants to Jane Austin's famous Bennet family must deal with the dirty details that go unmentioned in Pride and Prejudice. The mud on petticoats, the slop in chamberpots, lascivious lords, wars, bastards, hidden heirs.  Although Sarah and James are the main romantic storyline, the book mentions other marriages and affairs that helped keep the plot engaging.

Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson
Fantasy/tragedy (Book Babes)
A porn star and cocaine addict drives his car off a cliff and suffers horrible injuries that put him in the burn hospital, where he meets the mysterious Marianne Engel. She's a regular patient in the psychiatric ward who is also a sculptor. She also tells him stories of their part lives together. The meet repeatedly over centuries, across continents. The love stories, and the main story, involve incredible suffering, unrequited love and loss. The ending is not a happy one. Or is it?

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips
Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hermes and others all share a dilapidated house in London. Their powers on the wane because people don't believe in them anymore. The dysfunctional 'family' cross paths with two mortals, Alice and Neil, as their love story unfolds. Neil goes to Hades and back to win his love. And they all live happily after.  The movie based on the book was released in 2013 with a star-studded cast to underwhelming reviews.

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
Popular fiction
This romantic comedy will likely make a wonderful film. The lead character, Don Tillman, somehow stays endearing despite being ignorant of the effects his actions have on others. The fact he suffers a mild form of Asperger's syndrome and remains unaware of it may be part of the reason readers are quick to forgive. Although he might not show his love in typical ways, Don does grow into becoming his better self. I can see why this became one of Bill Gate's favourite novels.

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