Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sunday Salon... "Love Stories" Aren't Just Romances

Welcome to another Sunday Salon! Pull up a chair, grab that second cup of joe and let's talk books! Tomorrow is Valentine's Day! And that makes me think of great romances in literature! Even if you don't read romances per say, there are plenty of romances in all types of literature. Which are the most memorable ones?! Which ones make your heart sing? We all remember the tragic love story of Romeo & Juliet, and of course there is always Heathcliff and Catherine of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. What other love stories come to mind? Here are a few notables on my shelf...

The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger... The story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experience unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

This is such a wonderful love story, and Audrey Niffenegger did a wonderful job writing it. I love time travel stories and this was unique in that the reader just doesn't go back and forth in two time frames, Henry jumps back in forth in time all throughout Clare's life. The time jumps may be a little confusing at first, but soon the story takes over and you're totally wrapped up in the developing love story between Clare and Henry. If you have not read this yet, READ IT! One of my all time favorite books. And as far as the movie goes, they did a pretty good job with that too.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini... The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

This is the story of the love of between two young boys growing up. It is a beautiful story and a devastating one. If you haven't read this book yet, go out and buy it NOW! And be prepared for your heart to break in the process.The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini... From Barnes & Noble:
"I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975." So begins The Kite Runner, a p
oignant tale of two motherless boys growing up in Kabul, a city teetering on the brink of destruction at the dawn of the Soviet invasion. Despite their class differences, Amir, the son of a wealthy businessman, and Hassan, his
devoted sidekick and the son of Amir's
household servant, play together, cause mischief together, and
compete in the annual kite fighting
tournament -- Amir flying the kite, and Hassan running down the kites they fell. But one day, Amir betrays Hassan, and his betrayal grows increasingly devastating as their tale continues. Amir will spend much of his life coming to terms with his initial and subsequent acts of cowardice, and finally seek to make reparations.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon... Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another... In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Ok, I did tell you I loved time travel stories, and Diana Gabaldon hits a home run with the love story between Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall! This story is HOT, historical and addictive. There are 7 books (big fat books!) in this series and if you haven't read the first book in the series, and you love historical romance, this is a perfect choice. Diana Gabaldon's writing is wonderful too! BTW, the "old" covers are beautifully illustrated. The "new" covers are a plain color with the title.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy... Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. While previous versions have softened the robust, and sometimes shocking, quality of Tolstoy's writing, Pevear and Volokhonsky have produced a translation true to his powerful voice. This award-winning team's authoritative edition also includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes. Beautiful, vigorous, and eminently readable, this Anna Karenina will be the definitive text for generations to come.

This was a wonderful read! It is such a classic and the doomed love affair between Anna and Count Vronsky is unbelievably contemporary for being written in the 19th century! A few things to note though in reading Anna Karenina- there are a lot of names to keep straight. In Russian literature, there are proper names, nicknames and "common" names. There is a "key" to the names at the beginning of the Pevear and Volokhonsky version, which is the translation that I highly recommend, but eventually you will become familiar with who is who. Also, the story is centers around the love story of Anna and Count Vronsky, but there is a lot of political talk that you'll have to muddle through that may not interest you, but adds to the climate of the times. Loved this book!

An oldy but goodie...

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy... From Publisher's Weekly: Bestselling novelist Binchy again explores the passions and priorities of Irish women in a seductively written tale that's a bona fide page-turner. She sets this story in the small village of Lough Glass, the "glass lake" of the title, in Dublin and in London, animating each place more by the robust characterization of the people who live there than by the use of descriptive detail. When Kit McMahon is 12, her sad and distant mother disappears while walking along the lake. Authorities find the family's boat overturned, and, when Kit discovers a sealed letter addressed to her father, she fears that the suicide confession will keep her mother from a consecrated burial. She burns the letter, adding another burden to her misery. Helen is not dead, however...When Kit discovers her years later, the anguish of both women is intensified by the complex situation, and the secret they now share eventually explodes in a way neither could have foreseen.

This was actually the first "romance" I ever read. A friend handed me this book and said I should read it. It sat on my headboard for a LONG time. Gosh, it was almost 600 pages! I finally decided I better get it back to her and opened it up. Well, I really enjoyed it! It's the story of a mother's love, but also how she is torn between being a mother and a woman in her own right. The twist in the story is what Helen decides to do in the name of love, and the consequences of her actions. This was also my first Maeve Binchy novel. I enjoyed her writing and the almost 600 pages went by in a flash. And this also opened up my reading to romance.

Other great "love story" notables... Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (another all-time favorite book!), Dracula in Love by Karen Essex, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and yes I'm going to mention... Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Let's not forget Love Story by Erich Segal either!

What "love stories" can you add?! Love stories can be romances, but love encompasses the deep feelings we have for our family & friends as well, not to mention the love we feel for our furry friends too! Share your favorite love stories!

Here's a Recap of this past weeks blog... for Memoir Monday I highlighted The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok. "Using a mnemonic technique from the Renaissance—a memory palace—Bartók imagines, chapter by chapter, a mansion whose rooms secure the treasured moments of her reconstructed past." Combining the authors artwork with her memories, creates a unique premise for a memoir and became a must read on my list! ...Monday was also the first discussion of Jane Eyre for the Jane Eyre Read-a-Thon hosted by Laura's Review Bookshelf. This is the first I've read Jane Eyre, and something I didn't realize is how Jane was an orphan being brought up by her Aunt. AND how cruel her Aunt and cousins treated her. I have to say I'm really enjoying Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Her writing is fresh. ...On tuesday, author Michelle Moran stopped by with a guest post about Madame Tussaud, the woman. Michelle's newest book coming out Feb. 15th is Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution and her guest post reveals a little of the woman behind the wax museum! I also just received an ARC of Michelle's book, Madame Tussaud, and from the first page the story hooks you!! I'm really enjoying it! *AND, to celebrate the release, I'm having a giveaway for Madame Tussaud which starts this coming tuesday!...Then on friday for First Lines, I shared the beginning of The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert. Schaffert gives us Essie, an octogenarian obituary writer, who may have found "the story" of her life, which turns the sleepy little town into something else as curiosity seekers embark on the town.

So, how was your week? What great books have you put on your shelf?! Share your reading suggestions, so we all can enjoy great reads! And in the meantime, have a wonderful day!


Mason Canyon said...

These all sound like interesting love stories. Looks like I've found several more books to add to my wish list. :) When I think of love stories I always think of Flame and The Flower and Ashes In The Wind both by the late Kathleen Woodiwiss. I read both years ago and several times each.

Thoughts in Progress

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Suzanne, these are just some beautiful stories. I'm especially fond of The Kite Runner.

Happy Valentine's Day.

teresa said...

Yeah for the perfect post! I really needed this one.
I haven't been reading because I just couldn't find a good "escape" book and i'm too tired to read the stack of parenting books by my bedside.
My husband is reading a book called "the shallows" about how the computer affects our brains and now believes it's even more important to spend plenty of time "deep reading".
I have to agree. Reading is the only antidote.
thanks for the list.
I already love the whole Outlander series, but i can dig in to these others.

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