Amongst all the love stories ever written, these are 3 unconventional must-read books about love.
There are many stories of love that have been written and rewritten a number of times. There are many classics, all time favorites, heart-wrenching love stories that have had our hearts since forever. Only some love stories have the ability to stand out, make you fall for it even if it is uncomfortably so.
Disclaimer: Coincidentally, all the three books mentioned below belong to the pre-feminism era. All of these contain some content that might be very intriguing to anybody who believes in equality. These books are commendable despite that.
Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez is a story of love that gets as absurd as it can.
It is the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, who fall in love at a young age. Soon, Fermina realizes that this is nothing but an infatuation of her immature age, and decides to marry another man of her father’s choice – Dr. Juvenal Urbino. A heart broken Florentino still does not lose hope. He decides to wait patiently until Fermina is single again, so that he can reclaim his love for her. He gets an opportunity 50 years later, when Fermina’s husband Dr. Urbino dies.
“He waited for this day as no one else could have waited for anything or anyone in this world “
It sounds like an unadulterated story of unconditional love, but that is exactly what it is not. It is filled with extramarital affairs, a culture that finds rape completely normal, and even child abuse in the name of parental care.
The beauty of this book is that even after fifty three years, seven months and eleven days and nights have been narrated with a considerable amount of filth in it, you would still crave for a love like this. It has been written so beautifully that you would long for this lunatic obsessive unfaithful love story to have a closure and a beautiful one at that.
“It was as if they had leapt over the ardous calvary of conjugal life and gone straight to the heart of love. They were together in silence like an old married couple wary of life, beyond the pitfalls of passion, beyond the brutal mockery of hope and the phantoms of disillusion: beyond love. For they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death.”
The author with ease compares a fatal disease – cholera to love, uses the times of cholera as a background for a beautiful love story to flourish, even gives the book an intriguing name and it all somehow makes sense. The book deals with themes of death and decay of humans and of nature, which is a delight to read.
Read it for the beautiful writing that makes it one of the must-read books about love.
2. The boat wreck –
The boat-wreck is an English translation of Rahindranath Tagore’s ‘naukadoobi‘ by Arunava Sinha.
It is more a tale of destiny than of love. It revolves around 4 characters, ( Ramesh, Kamala, Nalinaksha and Hemnalini ) and the relationships that they come to share with each other, all owed to destiny.
The story is set in the early 19 hundereds and gives us a glimpse of the then Indian society.
The men in the story are nothing like the typical Indian ‘macho‘ man. There is nothing stereotypically masculine about them. Especially Ramesh, his character depicts a real man, not overpoweringly strong, someone who has to obey his father, struggling to choose between his love and his uncalled for responsibilities.
The two female protagonists have contrasting characters, but both are equally lovable. One is a learned individual who holds intellectual conversations with men, enjoys embroidery and knows little about the household tasks; while the other manages the house with complete devotion and efficiency, is not very well read (barely knows how to read and write at first) yet had the courage to fight her own destiny all alone.
The bond of love shared by Hemnalini and Ramesh is something us millennials will find hard to understand, but it’s surreal and beautiful in it’s own, poised way.
Destiny plays a very unfair and complicated game in the story of these four characters, and it would have been really hard to believe, if it had not been written by the one and only Rahindranath Tagore.
Infact one of the characters Ramesh, at one instant says ” What terrible jest is fate engaged in?..this is like a novel, and that too a badly written one”.
He also thinks to himself, ” Such contradictory matchmaking is possible only for an uncaring writer like destiny- it conjures up events that the timid novelist dare not write in his imagined stories.”
Arunava Sinha’s translation is simple, there is an ease in the language and yet the story comes across very convincing. The coincidences, the role of destiny , the timeline could have all been difficult to believe in but the characters are so convincingly written that your heart would want to believe in them.
It is also one of the most unconventional, must-read books about love and destiny, something you would not come across very often .
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina begins with its most well known line, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in it’s own way”.
It is set in 19th century, Russia. Marital relationships amongst the so called civilized aristocrats of Moscow, have been discussed in this book from all perspectives possible.
Anna is married to a 20 years older senior statesman, Karenin. Their loveless marriage has never been fulfilling for the passionate Anna. She falls in love with Count Vronsky, a handsome military officer, despite her husband.
Anna wants to break off her cold marriage for love, but love has never come easy.
Thus, the book isn’t just about love, infact it’s more about the suffering that it causes to everyone.
The characters and the inter-relationships have been crafted meticulously depicting the complexity of affairs. There is a lot of dishonesty, disloyalty and hurt in all of the relationships in the book, which makes it a tragic story of love.
Even though Tolstoy decided to name the book after one of its characters – Anna; this book isn’t just about her, and in no way glorifies her.
It is also about Levin, Kitty, Vronsky, the obslonky family; controvertial idealogies of the then society, social prejudices and a lot of adultery.
Anna does not come across just as a beautiful, aristocratic woman, but also as an immature and self-centered person. Infact, none of the characters are portrayed as completely black or white, all of them are shown as is, in shades of grey.
However Levin, who is supposedly the voice of Leo himself, is the most likeable characters of all.
It isn’t like any other book, which you would want to finish in one sitting. It’s a classic which is supposed to be enjoyed, just a few chapters at a time. It isn’t like any other tragedy you would ever come across, because no one else has been able to provide such relevant perspectives, balancing the white and black areas of each character with dignity.
All of this makes Anna Karenina, one of the must-read books about love of all time.