Her choices made me consider how my own preferences have changed over the past eleven years. Which books did I love at age sixteen? Which of those had romantic couples (for I was passionate about many, but I’ve realized that a lot of them didn’t have a speck of romance)? And which books do I currently treasure, at age twenty-seven, for the relationships in their pages?
Behold, my lists!
Favorite literary couples at age 16 (circa 2000):
Vicinius and Ligia from Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Kit and Nat from The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Elnora and Philip from A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter
Jane and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Mara and Sheftu from Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Rose and Mac from Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
I don’t know what that list tells you, but I do know what it tells me. None of the authors are alive. I was into classic lit at age sixteen, and devotedly worked my way through the recommended reading list. It also reminds me that I love(d) historical fiction with a passion. No real surprise that I went on to study history in graduate school, eh? And it also tells me that I was a normal teenager – most of the couples in these stories are young, experiencing first love, and a lot of it is idealized (though not all). One final thing: I wasn’t into my Jane Austen phase yet.
Favorite literary couples now (from books I currently read at least once a year):
Anne and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion by Jane Austen
Harry and Corlath from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Eleanor and Reggie from Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey
Sabriel and Touchstone from Sabriel by Garth Nix
Rilla and Kenneth from Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
My current favorites are a different crop, certainly. For one thing, I’ve gone from historical fiction almost straight into fantasy. Some of the books are decidedly darker in tone. Most of the authors on this list are still alive. But I did notice continuity – I still favor books about strong female characters doing things. I also (apparently) like some hardship thrown in with my love story. It must add to the flavor? Come to think of it, bittersweet chocolate IS the most delicious.
What were your favorite literary couples at 16 and now?
[graphic from art at holli's etsy shop]