It's no secret that I enjoy a good love story, and in honor of a certain love-celebrating holiday, here are five of my favorite literary couples, the ones whose stories make me swoon every time:
1. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
This one is a no-brainer. Top of the list, every time. Their romance illustrates the beauty of a a relationship that takes its time, moving from rivalry to friendship to love. Gilbert is patient, but not pathetic. Anne is stubborn and clueless, but then she's fierce and steadfast. Gilbert and Anne are equals, always. They value each other at each stage of their relationship, and encourage each other to be the best version of themselves, while loving and forgiving and understanding when they're not.
2. Cat Barahal and Andevai Diarisso Haranwy, The Spiritwalker trilogy by Kate Elliott
Cat and Vai have one of those two-freight-trains-full-of-fireworks-colliding-in-an-epic-explosion kind of romances. They're both strong and passionate and driven, and love that about each other. Their relationship leaves space for big personalities (and, let's be honest, big egos). It's not all smooth sailing -- there is a lot of misunderstanding that the two have to overcome, but ultimately communication and personal growth win out in the end. What I probably love most about this relationship, is that Cat and Vai don't let the other take themselves too seriously. They don't belittle each other, or put the other one down, but they also serve as a tether for each other -- just when Vai gets too cocky, or Cat gets too reckless, the other is there to gently (or not-so-gently) bring them back to reality.
3. Ann Elliot and Captain Wentworth, Persuasion by Jane Austen
Romantic conflict due to misunderstanding has to be done very well in order for me to enjoy it, and, of course, who better than Ms. Austen. I love Ann and Wentworth's romance partly because I just love these two characters individually, and partly because it's characterized by such yearning. When they finally overcome their external and internal obstacles, I just want to stand up and dance and cheer. You know that their love will endure, because they recognize its preciousness -- theirs is a mature, hard-won romance.
4. Fair Finley and Gomery Overbove, Wilfair series by Alysia Gray Painter
Alysia Gray Painter is a master of the slow burn. Rarely have I read a romance between two characters as sizzling and tingly as the one between Fair and Gomery...and after three books, they haven't even really kissed! (I seriously can.not.wait for book four) It's the magic of anticipation, of knowing that some things are really better if you take your time. Fair and Gomery's romance has longing, patience, understanding, and the heady rush of first love. These are two unique, at-times lonely souls (old-souls, to be specific) whose singular orbits are finally intersecting.
5. John Murphy and Lisa Lindheim, Vienna Prelude and Prague Counterpoint by Bodie and Brock Thoene
John and Lisa are a bit of an anomaly on this list, because their relationship began in a more love-at-first-sight fashion. Theirs is a relationship born on the eve of war, and forged through the intensity of that experience. John and Lisa couldn't be from more different worlds -- he's an American journalist from the Midwest, she's a German half-Jewish professional musician. It's those differences that bring them together -- but it's the similarity of their characters that keep them together, even when they must spend much of the early days of their relationship apart. I read John and Lisa's story as a young teenager, and theirs will always remain one of my favorite love-amidst-war romances.
And an honorable mention goes out to my all-time favorite t.v. (i.e., visual story-telling) couple:
1. Tami and Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights
Tami and Eric (Coach) Taylor were the heart and soul of the supposedly-about-teenagers television show Friday Night Lights, and one of the best depictions of marriage that I've seen on television (running a close second to Claire and Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show), particularly in recent years. Tami and Eric show what it means to be committed day in and day out to making a relationship work -- in the good times, and in the bad. They show that marriage doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful. They show what it's like to support each other, to champion for each other, to navigate parenthood together, to fight and argue, and to ultimately work through conflict.
So, those are some (but by no means all) of my favorite literary couples! What couples inspire you, make you swoon, and help you believe in romance?