Love it or hate it, it’s that time of the year again. Yes, Valentine ’s Day may be a few days past but it will be another week before the gift roses wilt and the heart-shaped chocolates cease to grace Tesco’s shelves. For the loved-up amongst us this is a blessing but for many it’s a curse, so we’ve decided to compile a short list of books to either prolong your paramour or reinforce your conviction that love is a waste of time.
The first book to consider is Like Water for Chocolate. Set near the Mexico-US border, it tells the story of a young girl who longs to marry her lover, but is restricted by an old family tradition dictating that she must dedicate her life to caring for her mother. A classic tale of forbidden love, it will leave you weeping into your newly gifted heart-shaped pillow.
Alternatively, Emma by Jane Austen is a faithful and fun classic. Literally the Clueless of the nineteenth century, spoiled and headstrong Emma Woodhouse plays matchmaker to her friends whilst neglecting her own chances at romance. It all ends on a happy note of course, with Emma’s schemes somehow proving fruitful and resulting in her own engagement.
If you wish to instead stoke the bitter flames of cynicism following Valentine’s day then try quite possibly the most pessimistic take on love and marriage ever written: Gone Girl. Documenting the lives of Nick and Amy Dunne (aka two of the most horrible people on earth) following Amy’s mysterious disappearance, Gone Girl will ensure you are never tempted into a relationship again.
In a similar vein is Les Liaisons Dangereuses, plagued by two equally questionable characters. Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont are two rivals (and ex-lovers) who use sex and seduction as weapons to hurt one another and degrade others around them. It ends very badly for everybody, with pretty much every character dead or committed to a nunnery. Perfect.
Whether you’re feeling loved-up or lonely, or have no real commitment either way, each novel is a perfect follow up to the most ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ day of the year.