Actually, I’ve always kind of liked Valentine’s Day. Mostly because I like chocolate and paper hearts (really – my eighteenth birthday party involved making valentines with construction paper, crayons, and stickers.) But it can get a little overwhelming with all the romance stuff for a whole month. Unfortunately, I’m going to add to that! Don’t worry, this will probably be my only V-Day related post this month. But I thought I could at least acknowledge the holiday with a list of some of my favorite bookish couples!
1.) Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy! Yes, yes, everybody talks about them. Plus, I would be the first to argue that Jane Austen novels are not romances at heart, despite the fact that they contain romance. And honestly, Pride & Prejudice isn’t even my favorite Jane Austen novel (that honor goes to Emma.) But Lizzie and Mr. Darcy have such an amazing relationship. There’s so much more going on than just a “they meet, they hate, they love” kind of arc. They challenge each other constantly, they better each other, they can be their best selves around each other. Even when they initially dislike each other, they engage on an intellectual level that neither of them gets a chance to with most of their friends and family. They force each other to look past their prejudice and pride (and they each have plenty of both!) and become better versions of themselves. They fall in love only after they have each undergone personal growth, and learned to truly respect each other. They are a wonderful couple, and I love them SO much.
Honorable mention for another Jane Austen couple goes to Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion. That letter at the end! I swoon every time.
2.) Katsa and Po from Graceling. I actually like Fire and Bitterblue both better than Graceling, but there’s no denying that Graceling is a better introduction to the world, and Katsa and Po are definitely Cashore’s most exciting couple. They are such a perfect match for each other in every way. Po is physically the only person in the world able to match Katsa (even if ultimately she’ll win all their spars.) Po’s calmness and Katsa’s fire complement each other. Their willingness to fight for each other is beautiful, but so is their mutual understanding that as much as they love each other, some things are more important than their romance. I love that Po understands and supports Katsa’s non-traditional decisions about children and settling down. I love that Katsa uses her stubbornness and strength to bring Po out of darkness. Katsa and Po were made for each other, without a doubt.
3.) Eleanor and Park. I realize that this is the super trendy thing to say right now, but there’s a reason – because this book is incredible, and the relationship between Eleanor and Park is delightful, heartwarming, heartwrenching and so, so real. Each character shines on their own, but together, they make something spectacular. Watching them learn to like each other, then love each other, was one of the best journeys I’ve been on. Seeing how their love saved Eleanor in an almost literal sense made me feel like anything is possible. And the intensity of their affection, despite the questions about the future of their relationship, was something I’ve felt before. Feeling it again was a powerful experience.
4.) Maddie and Julie from Code Name Verity. No, they are not a romantic couple. But Maddie and Julie, the two narrators of Code Name Verity, are certainly a couple. And their friendship is every bit as exciting and wonderful to read about as any of the romantic couples on this list. As Julie says, “It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.” And what best friends they are! In almost every word written by either girl, their love for each other shines through. They prop each other up when necessary, they have fun together, and they make incredibly difficult decisions and sacrifices for each other. And that’s love – whether romantic or platonic.
You may have noticed that Hazel and Gus are conspicuously absent. That is because thinking too much about Hazel and Gus makes me weepy, and I try to avoid crying at work. But I never promised a comprehensive list – just a list of some of my favorite literary couples! Who are your favorite book couples? What do you love about them?