Literary Love Stories

Love is in the air. Valentine’s Day approaches, with its boxes of chocolates and heart-shaped cards with curly, elegant cursive. Needless to say, thousands of couples this weekend will be flipping through Netflix, HBO, or what have you, looking for that perfect romance flick. Be it a rom-com, a history drama, or something in between the two, there’s no denying that Valentine’s is the perfect night for love stories. But if you’re like me, sometimes it’s hard to decide on something to watch. You flip through channel after channel, watching the night trickle away, and nothing really jumps out at you. Not the most exciting way to spend a special night in with your loved one! So if Sunday night rolls around and you find yourself trapped in the dreaded cycle of flipping through channels, why not set a new trend and pick up one of these literary love stories instead?

Here are some of our staff’s picks for their favorite literary love stories!

Joe Flaherty, Executive Director:

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My favorite literary couple is Holden Caulfield and his sister Phoebe, from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

Tate DeCaro, Development Associate:

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I feel like I should probably choose something cultured like Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, which I’ve never read or seen, or the obvious Romeo & Juliet, which I’ve both read and seen many times, but no matter how much I love Shakespeare, all of his love stories are kind of absurd (though always a great read). So, I’m going with another obvious, though more contemporary, choice: Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. Because they’re actually really good for each other (which I don’t often think is true in “great literary love stories”). Because they build a strong friendship first. Because they don’t hinder each others plans/needs/emotions/true characters. And because obviously Harry needed to officially be a part of the Weasley family somehow.

Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education:

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I’m going to have to go with Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. Their courtship (i.e. him calling her “carrots” and her getting so infuriated) is so human and honest. Witnessing them growing up together is heartwarming. She is one of my favorite feisty literary characters, and he is a great match for her—as they are both so stubborn, smart, and truly thoughtful.

Karen vanMeenen, Director of “If All of Rochester Reads…”

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Jake and Ennis from Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain. As young men, Jake and Ennis share an immediate soulful connection they cannot deny. They find it painful to be kept apart but the challenges of the social mores of their day (the narrative begins in 1963), including their marriages to others, leaves them struggling to live authentic lives and to honor their love for each other.

Kathy Pottetti, Director of Gell Center Operations:

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My favorite literary couple is Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.   It’s an all time classic movie and novel. I’ve been to Atlanta, GA. to Margaret Mitchell’s home and purchased her book there, a genuine   “Sense of Place.”   They are classy, romantic and feisty together. It’s such a dramatic story of the Civil War, and the emphasis of Scarlett O’Hara, the southern belle living on her plantation “Tara”, during this period of time, and how she survives during the Civil War and Reconstruction. She’s such a damsel in distress… her love affairs with Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler and Rhett’s famous line to her “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” is classic! It’s the constant tug and pull that makes them so exciting together.

Emma Lynge, Blog Coordinator and Front Desk Representative:

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My favorite would have to be Faramir and Eowyn from The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien. At the start of the story, they’re both looking for someone to validate their self-worth in a really unhealthy way. Faramir craves his father’s approval and love, and Eowyn wants the same from Aragorn. Over the course of the war, all of the terrible things that happen help to strip away what’s unimportant and let Faramir and Eowyn find themselves again. Faramir defends Gondor not for his father, but because it’s the right thing to do, and Eowyn slays the Witch-King of Angmar not to prove herself to Aragorn, but for herself, because she’s awesome. That they end up together at the end of the book is a little unexpected and exciting for both of them, but they’ve finally figured out what it is they really want and they don’t really care who judges them for it. It’s a really sweet story about not looking for someone to validate you, but rather letting your self-confidence guide you where you want to go.

Albert Abonado, Director of Adult Programming:

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When I think of literary couples (fictional or otherwise), I often think of Larry and Sally Morgan from Wallace Stegner’s lyrical Crossing to Safety. It’s been a while since I’ve read this book, but here is a couple that has never left me. We watch Larry and Sally struggling to make a living,and suffer alongside them when Sally is struck with polio. I loved the book for its quiet and careful observations of the ordinary, how Stegner so wisely understood the interior workings of marriage and friendship, and admired Larry and Sally Morgan for their deep and resilient love throughout their years.

Chris Fanning, Public Relations:

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Not my favorite literary couple, but a couple non the less would be the character Quint and the shark from Peter Benchley’s novel JAWS. Though the relationship may be one-sided and at some points border on an Ahab-like obsession on Quints part, at the end of the book, after a long pursuit, the characters end up together….(insert rimshot sound effect)