Friday, 14 February 2014

Jess Suggests | Romance

Happy Valentine's Day!

As it's the day of love it only seems right that I celebrate it by sharing with you some of my personal recommendations for a romantic read!

by Lauren Oliver

Lena Haloway is content in her safe, government-managed society. She feels (mostly) relaxed about the future in which her husband and career will be decided, and looks forward to turning 18, when she’ll be cured of deliria, a.k.a. love. She tries not to think about her mother’s suicide (her last words to Lena were a forbidden “I love you”) or the supposed “Invalid” community made up of the uncured just beyond her Portland, Maine, border. There’s no real point—she believes her government knows how to best protect its people, and should do so at any cost. But 95 days before her cure, Lena meets Alex, a confident and mysterious young man who makes her heart flutter and her skin turn red-hot. As their romance blossoms, Lena begins to doubt the intentions of those in power, and fears that her world will turn gray should she submit to the procedure.

Delirium is the first book in Lauren Oliver's Dystopian trilogy, set in a future where love has been declared a disease by the government. When people turn eighteen they are sent for a procedure, similar to a lobotomy, which makes them no longer able to feel love. They cannot fall in love, their friendships dissolve, and even their relationships with their family members turn cold.

This might not sound like the kind of world you want to explore on Valentine's Day, but like any Dystopian novel Delirium involves rebellion, and our heroine Lena Haloway becomes exactly the kind of rebel she's been raised to fear when she finds herself falling in love.

Oliver's writing style is absolutely gorgeous; even if this particular story doesn't interest you you should definitely check out one of Oliver's books purely for the way in which they are written, but Delirium is a wonderful story so check it out if you haven't already!

by Jane Austen

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. 

As I've mentioned before I'm not a huge fan of Jane Austen; I'd much rather read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies than Pride and Prejudice, but it can't be denied that this classic, still widely read today, is one of the most well known romance novels of all time. As such, it only feels right to include it in this list.

I think what people love most about this novel is the 'will they, won't they?' vibe which surrounds Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy's relationship. But if you'd rather read something a little more modern this Valentine's Day, check out Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary - a modern day re-telling of Austen's most famous novel.

by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

It's very rare to come across a fan of YA who has yet to read this book, and if you are one of those people who hasn't read The Fault in Our Stars yet then now is the ideal time - especially considering the film adaptation, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, is coming out in June!

Considering this is a book which deals with terminal illness in children and teenagers you should definitely read it with a box of tissues at hand, but don't let its content scare you; it might sound like it should be a depressing read, but there's so much fun and laughter in this book that there were points when I was reading it in which I forgot our protagonist is ill. 

So if you've been putting it off so far, why not give The Fault in Our Stars a go this Valentine's Day?

by Andrew Davidson

The nameless and beautiful narrator of The Gargoyle is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and wakes up in a burns ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned. His life is over - he is now a monster.

But in fact it is only just beginning. One day, Marianne Engel, a wild and compelling sculptress of gargoyles, enters his life and tells him that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly burned mercenary and she was a nun and a scribe who nursed him back to health in the famed monastery of Engelthal. As she spins her tale, Scheherazade fashion, and relates equally mesmerising stories of deathless love in Japan, Greenland, Italy and England, he finds himself drawn back to life - and, finally, to love.

The Gargoyle is one of my favourite books of all time and I won't stop talking about it until I know more people have read it.

Like Delirium, the writing style is gorgeous. Davidson expertly weaves different love stories into the main story arc with some of the most beautiful sentences I've ever read. Reading this book is like sucking on little pieces of candy.

And if the way it's written isn't enough to spark your interest consider this: the main character is a pornographer. I'm gonna go ahead and leave you with that thought.

by Sarah Waters

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby's household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves - fingersmiths - for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home. 

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives - Gentleman, a somewhat elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a na├»ve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud's vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be left to live out her days in a mental hospital. With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways. . . 

This is something of a naughty suggestion as, unlike the other four books on this list, I haven't actually read this one yet. As I mentioned in a previous post, however, I am hoping to read it this year - in fact I might add it to my TBR pile for March!

The main reason I wanted to include Fingersmith on this list is because the romance in the novel is between two women, and I only think it right that a list compiled of love stories has at least one story that includes a homosexual relationship. There are plenty of books out there that involve characters who aren't typical white, heterosexual males, but sometimes they can be hard to find!

I've heard nothing but good things about Fingersmith. So if you're in the mood for some Historical Fiction this Valentine's Day why don't you give it a try?

I hope you've seen something here that interests you! If you've read any of these books or have some suggestions of your own for a Valentine's Day read feel free to leave them below - I love receiving recommendations!

Have a lovely Valentine's Day whether you spend it with someone special or spend it pampering yourself!

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