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Heaven is a Place on Earth

WARNING: Sappy post, including blatant love stories and gratuitous reference to the bf.

So my man got back last night after four days away with the guys, and I woke up this morning with this song stuck firmly in my head:

As I was about six years old when this was a hit and I don’t listen to 80′s pop ballads regularly, I found this hilarious and proceeded to torment my beloved (and everyone else in our building) by blaring it at top volume while I got ready for work.

But it did get me thinking: about the heaven (or hell) that a good romance can be. And — as usually happens when I get thinking — about favourite books that have appealed to my own sense of romance through the years. And so, Sappy Tuesday, for your reading pleasure.

The Blue Castle, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The childhood favourite. Not one of Lucy’s better-known books (Anne of Green Gables made her fame), I found the Blue Castle liberating and intoxicatingly romantic as a kid. Dutiful and snubbed Valancy Stirling recieves a “one-year-to live” diagonosis, runs away from home, proposes marriage to the town’s bad boy, and moves in with him on a wooded island in the heart of the Muskoka. Doesn’t get much better.

Persuasion, by Jane Austen

The high school favourite. Not one of Austen’s better-known novels, this book was penned in a hurry during the illness that claimed Austen’s life. It is one of her more original novels, with a female protagonist who is older than most. Dutiful and generally snubbed (I’m seeing a pattern here), Anne’s still in love with a suitor she spurned for “responsible” reasons in her youth. The suitor is the self-made Captain Wentworth — commanding, charming and seemingly indifferent to his past love. Seemingly.

Possession, A. S. Byatt

The book that intrigued me into pursuing academics. Byatt’s tale of two literary experts falling for each other while on the trail of a hidden romance between two Victorian poets, is charged with the kind of intellectual and sensual tension many lovers of literature revel in. Proof that a page-turner can also be intelligent. A Booker Prize-winner.

The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje

The book that made me fall in love with Ondaatje. The language in this novel is pure poetry, a love letter in and of itself. The story of the dying Almasy, his nurse Hana, her lover (the sapper) Kip, and Almasy’s storied and vivid past is a very skillfuly-woven tapestry of love, loss, violence, passion, and ultimately — beauty.

Lady Chatterly’s Lover, by D. H. Lawrence

The grown-up version of my childhood favourite, (and a great post-university find), Lawrence’s famous novel deals with themes of elevating physicality, of abandoning a purely mental or intellectual life as impotent and crippling. So notorious for its sensuality that it was banned in the UK for over 30 years, it still retains its sizzle, though the language seems somewhat amusing to today’s ears (or is that just me?).

What about you? What are your top literary romances?

- Veronica