Ten of the Best Love Stories

For Valentine’s Day, a list of the best books about love.

  1. Call me by your name (2017) André Aciman. Passionate first love set on the Italian Riviera. Many years later, Oliver and Elio meet again. While Oliver has moved on with his life, Elio can’t let go.
  2. Jane Eyre (1847) Charlotte Brontë. Says Jane to Rochester, ‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?’ A meeting of minds becomes an enduring love.
  3. Brokeback Mountain (1997) Annie Proulx. Two summer-hire ranch-hands form an intense attachment. At the end of summer, they part ways and go about their lives. Over the next twenty years they continue to meet up for occasional weekend trips, without acknowledging their feelings. Only when it’s too late, does one discover how essential he was to the other.
  4. Strange Weather in Tokyo (2017) Hiromi Kawakami (transl. Allison Markin Powell). Lonely Tsukiko, 38, meets her former teacher in a local bar. A quiet, hesitant love.
  5. The Great Gatsby (1925) F Scott FitzGerald. Jay Gatsby obsesses over Daisy Buchanan, under the yearning gaze of narrator Nick.
  6. Getting Lost (2001) Annie Ernaux. Journal of Ernaux’s 18-month affair with a younger, married Russian diplomat. Evokes the dizzying highs and lows of passionate love, an all-encompassing madness.
  7. The Remains of the Day (1989) Kazuo Ishiguro. Unrealised love between the butler and the housekeeper
  8. Idaho (2017) Emily Ruskovich. A family outing to gather firewood ends in tragedy. On loss, grief and violence born of love.
  9. The Crimson Petal & The White (2002) Michel Faber. Sugar, a Victorian prostitute and would-be author, enthrals profligate and failing author, William. Love power shifts and shifts again.
  10. My Brilliant Friend (2012) Elena Ferrante. Lena and Lila’s uneven friendship growing up in Rome. 

Bubbling Under:

The following books just missed out of the Top 10. Nevertheless, they each include a beautiful love story.

  • Gods of Jade and Shadow (2020) Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Set in Mexico during the Jazz Age, a young woman ventures to the Mayan underworld in the company of the enigmatic god of death.
  • Song of Achilles (2017) Madeline Miller. Achilles fulfils his destiny by going to Troy. Patroclus follows him into war.
  • The Snow Child (2012) Eowyn Ivey. A childless couple have their dreams realised in the snow.
  • The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock (2019) Imogen Hermes Gowar. A courtesan discovers love with a merchant who has come into possession of what appears to be a mermaid.
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