February is the month of love at Booktopia, and to celebrate we’re counting down the 50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told, as voted by you.
After thousands of votes, the poll closed on Sunday and we’ll be counting down the top 50, with the top 10 being announced at midday tomorrow, Valentine’s Day.
So sit back and enjoy the great works that made it to 20-11 in your voting. And don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom to see the huge sales and collections of books on love we have for you.
20. The End of the Affair
‘One of the most true and moving novels of my time, in anybody’s language’ William Faulkner.
The love affair between Maurice Bendix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off.
After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession.
Newland Archer and May Welland are the perfect couple.
He is a wealthy young lawyer and she is a lovely and sweet-natured girl. All seems set for success until the arrival of May’s unconventional cousin Ellen Olenska, who returns from Europe without her husband and proceeds to shake up polite New York society.
To Newland, she is a breath of fresh air and a free spirit, but the bond that develops between them throws his values into confusion and threatens his relationship with May.
‘All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’. “Anna Karenina” is a novel of unparalleled richness and complexity, set against the backdrop of Russian high society. Tolstoy charts the course of the doomed love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer who pursues Anna after becoming infatuated with her at a ball.
Although she initially resists his charms Anna eventually succumbs, falling passionately in love and setting in motion a chain of events that lead to her downfall. In this extraordinary novel, Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, while evoking a love so strong that those who experience it are prepared to die for it.
A sunny tale of love and liberation, A Room with a View is the story of Lucy, on holiday in Italy with her conservative cousin when she meets George Emerson, an unusual young man not of her class.
Although drawn to him, on her return home she becomes engaged instead to Cecil, a comically dull gentleman from her own background. Will she ever learn to break free and follow her heart?
Sundrenched and optimistic, and including many issues which troubled the Edwardian public – radical thinking, women’s suffrage, the constrictions of English social rules – this is a brilliantly witty love story.
Leningrad 1941: the white nights of summer when the sun hardly sets on the beautiful palaces and stately avenues that still speak of a different age, when the city was known as St Petersburg. The Metanov family live in a crowded apartment, the two sisters Daria and Tatiana sharing a bed, their parents and brother crowded in another room, their grandparents nearby. It’s a hard life, but one with room enough for love and romance.
However, when Tatiana first sets eyes on Daria’s boyfriend, Alexander, she knows immediately that for her, the path of love will never be easy, but rather, one of sacrifice and denial. Hitler’s invasion of Russia spells war and, for Leningrad, siege, and their earlier existence seems luxurious in comparison with the terrible deprivations that the family suffers. As the grip of winter closes as relentlessly as the advancing German army, so Tatiana is forced into ever more desperate measures in order to survive – both physically and emotionally.
15. The English Patient
The final curtain is closing on the Second World War, and Hana, a nurse, stays behind in an abandoned Italian villa to tend to her only remaining patient. Rescued by Bedouins from a burning plane, he is English, anonymous, damaged beyond recognition and haunted by his memories of passion and betrayal.
The only clue Hana has to his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire – a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes describing a painful and ultimately tragic love affair.
On they went singing ‘Eternal Memory’, and whenever they stopped, the sound of their feet, the horses and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing …
Doctor Zhivago is the epic novel of Russia in the throes of revolution and one of the greatest love stories ever told.
Yuri Zhivago, physician and poet, wrestles with the new order and confronts the changes cruel experience has made in him and the anguish of being torn between the love of two women.
‘How am I to dress up in my finery, and go off and away to smart parties, after the sorrow I have seen today?’
Margaret Hale is wrenched from her beloved rural idyll of Helstone and moved with her family to the industrial northern town of Milton, with its grime and all the ugliness of urban life. But from her initial distaste, Margaret develops a new sense of social justice, and a complicated relationship with the mill-owner John Thornton.
First published in 1855, North and South has one of the most full, original heroines in Victorian literature, and spurned the contemporary conventions of the novel to give a compelling, nuanced view of class conflict without easy resolution.
At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects.
Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortunenor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel.
Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all,it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.
Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So, when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts (no survivors) her heart is broken.
But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup.
So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, bad men, good men, snakes, spiders, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles, and a damn fine story.
Don’t forget to come back at midday tomorrow as we reveal the 10 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told as voted by you.
All this month we’re featuring the Love in Print at Booktopia. Click on the banner below to see the huge range of books on love we’re featuring all this month at Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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