It’s no surprise that love is one of the most popular themes in literature and that romantic fiction has the highest sales of all the genres. Love is universally relatable and takes many forms, including passionate and romantic love, platonic friendship, unconditional familial love, compassionate love for yourself or others, unrequited love and forbidden love.
Love, or the lack of it, has touched all of us at some time or another. This is what fascinates us when we read romantic fiction because it allows us to live the characters’ lives vicariously and imagine how we might have acted in the same situation. Reading gives us a safe place to explore our emotions.
There is a common misconception that writing love stories is easy, formulaic even, but nothing is further from the truth. Different aspects of love can form the basis of a gripping story but it is the characters who bring infinite variations to well-trodden story lines, rendering them fresh and new. What delights a reader and keeps them reading is life-like characters with all their talents and imperfections, who have to make sacrifices and overcome many obstacles to find love.
The very best love stories, whether in novels, plays or films, tug on the reader’s heartstrings and stand the test of time. Here are eight of my favourites.
Romeo and Juliet Family disapproval causes a tragic ending for these famous star-crossed lovers.
The Phantom of the Opera explores the pain of unrequited love.
Pride and Prejudice Both Elizabeth and Darcy must overcome their faults of pride and prejudice before they can find happiness.
Jane Eyre Romantic tension keeps the reader on tenterhooks until they reach the bitter-sweet ending.
Anna Karenina Anna, a married woman, risks everything when she falls in love with a handsome Vronsky. Their doomed affair is set against a backdrop of high society in imperial Russia.
Little Women The March sisters have the usual family squabbles but they all support each other.
The Fellowship of the Ring When Frodo sets out on a perilous journey across Middle Earth, his friends won’t let him go alone and find their loyalty and friendship are tested.
Wuthering Heights Catherine and Heathcliffe’s obsessive and destructive love for each other can only lead to tragedy.
Whether fleeting or lifelong, love has the power to nurture relationships, break our hearts, teach us important lessons, and change lives forever. Is it any wonder then that these universal themes are so popular in the books we love to read?
My latest book, The Lost Daughter of Venice, explores themes of unrequited love, a mother’s love, familial love and last, but certainly not least, romantic love!
Come to Venice. Please, Phoebe, do not fail me.
Seventeen years ago, the grand Venetian Palazzo degli Angeli was Phoebe Wyndham’s home; now, the neglected walls of the palazzo are just a haunting reminder of all she has lost.
Arriving back in Italy after a plea from her estranged relative, the Contessa di Sebastiano, the recently widowed Phoebe is shocked to discover her aunt is dead and the palazzo now belongs to her.
All she wants to do is sell the property and return home. However, when a dark family secret is exposed, the shocking deception rocks Phoebe to her very core, and she vows not to leave the City of Water without first unravelling the truth from the lies.
As Phoebe searches for answers, she finds herself growing closer to two very different men. But, when her camera catches something more sinister than the faded grandeur of Venice, Phoebe begins to question who she can really trust and whether her aunt’s death was truly an accident after all . . .