Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone from Booktopia.
To celebrate we’ve been counting down the 50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told, as voted by you.
Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom to see the huge sales and collections of books on love we have for you.
But here it is. The 10 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told, as voted by you.
10. Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time.
Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as “Gone With the Wind” does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives.
In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.
Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything.
But one thing will always be out of his reach…
Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character.
For Gatsby – young, handsome, fabulously rich – always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled.
And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen- year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.
By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl’s imagination.
Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.
Wuthering Heights has achieved an almost mythical status as a love story, yet it is also a unique masterpiece of the imagination: an unsettling, transgressive novel about obsession, violence and death.
It begins as a man is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house on the Yorkshire moors during a snowstorm. There he discovers the tempestuous events that took place there years before: the intense love between Catherine Earnshaw and the foundling Heathcliff, her betrayal of him and how his terrible revenge continues to haunt the present.
Brokeback Mountain is just one of the short stories to be found in this haunting collection of Wyoming tales, set in the beautiful, wild landscape of Wyoming where cowboys live as they have done for generations.
Hard, lonely lives in unforgiving country. Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar are two ranch hands, glad to have found each others company where none had been expected. But companionship becomes something else on Brokeback Mountain, something not looked for – an intimacy neither can forget.
Brokeback Mountain was famously made into an Academy Award-winning film by Ang Lee, and starred Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.
5. The Time Traveler’s Wife
This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty.
Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are alternately harrowing and amusing.
The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s passionate love for each other with grace and humour. Their struggle to lead normal lives in the face of a force they can neither prevent nor control is intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.
‘Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’
One of the greatest love stories ever told, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet continues to touch modern audiences with its passionate depiction of the tragic romance between two young lovers.
With a bitter feud between their respective families, Romeo and Juliet’s love is troubled from the start, and through their relationship, Shakespeare shows the fine line between love, hatred, comedy and tragedy.
Set amid the austere beauty of coastal North Carolina in 1946, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, 31, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met 14 years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once more.
Allie Nelson, 29, is now engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes.
The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all.
2. Jane Eyre
‘The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself’
Rejected by her guardians and offered cold charity at an orphanage, Jane Eyre has come to rely on her own intelligence and strength of character to guide her through life.
But when she becomes governess at Thornfield Hall, working for the gruff Mr Rochester, she finds a man who may be her equal – and a secret that threatens to destroy them both.
Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, Jane Eyre enthralled and appalled readers with its passionate, defiant heroine. It remains a novel of unparalleled narrative grip, vivid imagery and naked emotional power.
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’
Austen’s best-loved tale of love, marriage and society in class-conscious Georgian England still delights modern readers today with its comedy and characters.
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever.
In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships,gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the search for The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. We’ll have a recap of the full list up tomorrow.
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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