Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, February 12, 2010

I'll take a sad set of literary lovers for Valentine's Day,Alex

Valentine's Day is best known for the happiness of hearts and flowers,right along side the sheer misery of those either unlinked in love or going through what Lady Gaga would musically deem a bad romance.

Let's talk about tormented love for a moment;as Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Bennett would drolly remark,a girl likes to be vexed in love every now and then and as the Sisters Bronte knew all too well,passion and pain go together like peanut butter and jelly,especially in literature.

Of course,every good romance story must have some sort of obstacle to over come in order to increase the love between the two leads via suspense,yet for a few of these tragic couples,the hurdles are not just potholes in the road,they're chasms about the width of the Grand Canyon. As an offbeat alternative to the usual upbeat Valentine's Day reading recommendations,here are a few suggestions for some sweetly sorrowful romances to curl up with this weekend:

LABOR DAY/JOYCE MAYNARD:This heartfelt novel is told from the p.o.v of Henry,a thirteen year old boy whose lonely and somewhat unstable divorced mother Adele starts to come out of her self imposed stupor when a handsome stranger named Frank unexpectedly enters their lives.

Frank seeks refuge in their home mainly due to being the subject of a local manhunt by the police upon an impromptu escape from prison during his recovery from an appendectomy on Labor Day weekend. Henry has no desire to see his mother unhappy(and really likes Frank to boot) but is torn about accepting Frank's presence in their sadly routine lives. While this may sound like the plot of a cheesy made for Lifetime TV movie,this book is a thoughtful and beautifully emotive look at taking love when and wherever you find it:

THE MERMAID CHAIR/SUE MONK KIDD: Speaking of Lifetime channel movies,Sue Monk Kidd's second novel was turned into one that actually got some decent reviews. The dramatic tensions in this book are a real handful,as not only does Jessie Sullivan return to the island community where she grew up to deal with her mother's dementia that's tied in with a long held family secret,it's also the perfect excuse to go off and reconsider her failing marriage as well.

Her love life takes an extra twist when Jessie meets Brother Thomas,a novice monk on the verge of taking his final vows. Both of them must decide if their new found love for each other is worth disturbing the set pattern of their lives. Truly an engaging story that keeps you turning pages and holding your breath as it draws you under it's sea of emotional turmoil:


No doubt many of you are all too familiar with this flight of fanciful tale about Henry and Clare,whose long time romance is literally suspended in time due to Henry's odd biological quirk that forces him to spontaneously go back and forth through time and space within his own lifetime. If you haven't yet or know someone who hasn't,this book is a treasure chest of marvels just waiting to be opened.

Some of you may be daunted by the negative feedback given to the recent film adaptation of TTTW over the summer,but many a good book has been ill served on the silver screen and still stands the test of literary time. Some stories work better in your imagination than acted out and besides,it also has a librarian as the romantic leading man,a nice combo of smart and sexy. What more could a gal ask for?:

THE GIRL WITH GLASS FEET/ALI SHAW: If you want something new along the lines of TTTW for a marvelous melancholy read,look no further than Ali Shaw's dazzling debut novel.

This doomed romance between Ida Maclaird,a young woman who travels back to an isolated archipelago settlement to find the cure for her strange ailment and Midas Crook,a local loner with an overwhelming passion for photography,is a sadly sweet story of two unlikely people who manage to connect even when one of them is about to be permanently disconnected from life.

I'm reading this book right now and while this is clearly a modern day story,the atmosphere created by the author is one skillfully blended with an old fashioned sense of style and more than a touch of fairytale nuance into the bargain:

Even with these rather gloomy reading suggestions,I do wish everyone out there a happy Valentine's Day and hope that you take heart from this set of literary love examples. After all,the course of true love never did run smooth,plus it's good to keep in mind that while your path to romance may cause you to take a tumble on occasion,at least you haven't fallen off the ultimate deep end like Romeo and Juliet there:

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