Romance writers have been penning stories of love and devotion for centuries, providing readers with a chance to lose themselves in the dream of finding that one special someone who will love them until the end of time. While there are literally hundreds of thousands of romance novels available there are a number of them that stand out from the rest. It is wise to remember, however, that just because a novel may be a story of romance and love it doesn’t always end happily. The following list is of some of the best romance novels of all time.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – In typical romance novels man meets woman, woman resists man, man eventually wins over woman and they live happily after. In this classic romance novel set during the American Civil War, all of the above occur but due to woman’s foolishness man is lost to her forever.
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak – This Nobel Prize winning novel tells of a married Doctor living in pre-WWI Russia and how his life is turned upside down when he meets a woman and begins an affair with her. The story unfolds as he returns to his wife only to later meet up with his lover again and renew his relationship with her. There are lots of twists and turns in what is a romance novel that cannot possibly end happily for anyone.
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare – No list of best romance novels of all time would be complete without the addition of Shakespeare’s story of two very young people who despite family feuding, fall in love and do everything within their power to be together. Sadly, due to the hostilities between their two families the young couple decide their own fate, with tragic consequences.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austеn – A comedic story of a spirited courtship between a proud man and a prejudiced woman. Set in the eighteenth century, the courtship of these two involves many drawing room conversations with witty comments and retorts being tossed between them while maintaining impeccable manners. Eventually the happy ending many romantics seek happens but not before the poor Mr. Darcy is made to what today would be consider jumping through hoops in his pursuit of Elizabeth.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Trapped in a loveless marriage, the woman (Anna Karenina) turns to another man for the comfort and love she fails to get from her husband. Set in Tsarist Russia this is a story of a love that was doomed from the beginning, and yet the lovers find themselves unable to prevent their passionate romance from playing out until as so many do, the novel ends in a tragedy.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – This Victorian romance novel follows the life of a girl orphaned at a very young age and made to feel worthless by the relatives she lives with, until she speaks her mind and is punished by being sent away to a boarding school. There she learns all she can until able to leave to be a governess to a young girl whose guardian becomes the object of Jane’s love. The two are about to be married when disaster occurs in the form of an accusation that the man is already married!
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – A sad story of a man who is afraid to declare his love for the woman he has grown up with for fear his love is not returned and receives constant bullying and humiliation at the hands of her brother who has despised his presence from the moment he was brought to live with them. Eventually, believing there is no hope of gaining her love he leaves, betters himself and returns a wealthy, learned man. He then sets out to exact revenge for all of the past torment he was made to suffer.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles – Believing himself to be happily engaged to be married to a wonderful woman of considerable means and charm, Charles Smithson finds himself surprisingly intrigued by another woman who reportedly had been deserted after a brief but passionate affair. His fascination leads to love, and feeling that the right thing to do is to break off his engagement, he then pursues the woman he truly loves.
A Room with a View by E M Forster – The classic love triangle is the basis for this romance novel and sees a woman, Lucy, being pursued by two different men. One of the gentlemen has already proposed to her twice and she has turned him down, but finally accepts his third proposal. Upon hearing of the engagement the other gentleman tells Lucy that he is madly in love with her. From that moment on Lucy is torn between marrying the man she is engaged to and living a good but perhaps somewhat dull life, or the other man who she knows she can truly be happy with for the rest of her life.