This is a post that I created last year to mark Valentine’s Day. I am editing it this year to add Hazel and Augustus to this list. These two teens from John Green’s amazing YA novel The Fault in Our Stars are just so heartbreaking. I haven’t yet met a person who’s read this book who hasn’t fallen completely in love with them.
Well, it’s Valentine’s Day so I should talk about L-O-V-E. In fiction at least, things often work out happily-ever-after. But not always and I actually don’t mind that because in real life love is often fraught with difficulties that are impossible to overcome.
My parents weren’t romantic – so I can’t say that I come by my starry-eyed notion of love naturally. I am, however, a real romantic. I swoon at the notion of the grand romantic gesture. Star-crossed lovers gut me every time. I love angst: characters that should be together, but can’t for whatever reasons.
So, in no particular order – here are some of my favourite romantic moments in fiction (including tv and movies, because someone had to write those, too).
1. The Way We Were – Screenplay by Arthur Laurents
Like a lot of people, I watched this movie for the first time with my mom. And I loved it. Even now, just watching these six minutes – I bawled like a baby. Yes, I know Hubbell left his daughter – but consider the times. I still think this moment is classic. And the music. Gah!
2. The Bridges of Madison County – novel by Robert James Waller
Okay, I know. The book is mediocre – well, the writing at least. But the story, the soaring ache of it. I read the book almost 20 years ago and cried so hard it was ridiculous. I haven’t read it since and I doubt I could get through it given that I am the characters’ peers now and understand, even more fully, the sacrifices Francesca made.
3. Sydney Bristow and Michael Vaughn from Alias created by JJ Abrahms
Okay, so Syd and Vaughn aren’t together anymore because Vaughn is married to someone else. And this fact ratchets up the angst like OMG. Now, they are in a prison in North Korean and are about to be executed, so Vaughn has to make an admission. This video actually gives you a little back story.
4 . The Time Traveler’s Wife – novel by Audrey Niffenegger
Never mind the crapola movie, the book is a fantastic love story.
It’s dark, now, and I am very tired. I love you always. Time is nothing.
Oh, Henry – if only it were true. But for Clare and Henry time is both friend and enemy and Niffenegger’s deft handling of their story and the way their lives intersect is a powerful and heartbreaking tale. Love it.
I cried so hard during the last 50 pages of this book, I couldn’t see the words.
5. The Notebook – novel by Nicholas Sparks
Never read the book. The movie made me bawl like a baby. Instead of showing the obvious clip, with hotter than hot Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, how about this with James Garner and Gena Rowlands. This is what makes the story so heart-wrenching. It’s sort of the epitome of what I imagine true love to be all about. Nothing lame about loving someone like that.
6. Ben and Felicity from the show Felicity created by JJ Abrahms
I just finished rewatching all four seasons of Felicity and the Ben and Felicity stuff gets me every time. Some people are just meant to be.
7. The Lost Garden – novel by Helen Humphreys
At the centre of Helen Humphrey’s lovely book is Gwen Davis, a shy horticulturist who has been sent to the Devon countryside to oversee an estate garden being cared for by the Women’s Land Army. At an estate close by is Raley, a sensitive Canadian officer waiting to be sent to the front lines.
What can I say about love? You might see me sitting in this taxi, bound for Paddington Station – a thirty-five-year-old woman with plain features – and you would think that I could not know anything of love. But I am leaving London because of love.
If you haven’t read anything by Humphreys you are in for a treat; her writing is lovely and this book is gorgeous and romantic – though not, ultimately, in ways you might expect.
8. Romeo & Juliet – William Shakespeare
Lots of people would argue that there is nothing romantic about Shakespeare’s tragedy. They’d say that Romeo and Juliet were too young, and too self-centred to know what true love is all about. Perhaps it’s the beauty of Shakespeare’s poetry that makes me all emotional when I hear it. If you happened to have been with me in my high school auditorium the year we gathered to watch Zefferelli’s version, you’d know that I am prone to sobbing pretty much through the whole play.
Baz Luhrmann did an updated version of the play starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes and it was okay. The death scene, however, is gorgeous. As death scenes go.
9. Dirty Dancing – Screenplay by Eleanor Bergstein
Oh, come on. Nobody puts baby in a corner. And that final dance. Who knows if Baby and Johnny are living happily ever after, but those two dirty danced straight into my heart and the film gets special dispensation for being my mom’s all-time favourite movie. She wore out several VHS copies of it. It’s extra meaningful now that Patrick Swayze is no longer with us. This clip doesn’t show the entire dance…but it does have that famous line.
This clip shows the final dance sequence in its entirety.
1o. Buffy and Angel – from the shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series created by Joss Whedon
Oh, please, as if these guys wouldn’t make my list. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the vampire with a soul- put ’em together and you get seven seasons of prime tear inducing angst. Did they love each other? Desperately. Could they be together? Nope. Did every B/A fangirl on the planet wish they’d have their happily-ever-after? I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
Here’s a video someone made tracing the B/A love story It’s pretty comprehensive.
These scenes are by no means definitive and I’d likely have added and deleted a few scenes, but the videos certainly do offer a sampling of these two characters. If Joss Whedon never did another thing again – he could be satisfied knowing that he created a masterpiece with these shows and characters. I am forever in his debt.
You might think there are some obvious omissions on this list. Titanic, for instance. Can you believe it – I’ve NEVER seen it!
I also should have included Legends of the Fall because Tristan and Susannah = romance like whoa.
Or Tristan and Isolde
Okay. I’m a sap.
I’d love for you to share your favourite romantic book or movie or tv show.