You can guess by the title of this current episode, that we’re talking about books where love features heavily. And it’s not just romantic love either. There’s love of family, love of country. There’s even love of self.
The books listed fall into different categories of love, starting with love that’s not exactly of the normal definition.
- Destructive love. In these books, we see what the protagonist thinks of as love, can be something else entirely. From obsession to unrequited to leaving the love of your life, these loves fall on the darker side of the emotion. Americanah, Looking for Alaska and the Great Gatsby are part of this category. Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t think Jay Gatsby is just a little left of stable, mentally? He is so obsessed with Daisy he remakes himself into something he isn’t just so he will fit into the man-mold he thinks she wants. Ultimately and too late, he realizes how destructive that love is. Unrequited love is the major theme in Look For Alaska, John Green’s Debut YA Novel. The story concerns Miles and a classmate of his, the out-of-his-league Alaska. Americanah is told from a Nigerian immigrant’s perspective and deals with coming to a new country and leaving a first love behind.
2. Love of Family. Our families are the first introduction to the emotion of love. They teach us how to love, why we love and provide a framework for how to show our love. And just like every family is different, so too is every family love story mentioned, which includes, The Godfather, Little Women, Gilead, and ( one of my favorite books evah!) The Joy Luck Club.
The March sisters define the premise of female support and empowerment during a time in our country where women were still considered the property of their husbands and fathers. Jo March, the second oldest, is an independent, ahead-of -her-time thinker, who is fiercely loyal to her sisters. Each sister in the story play a different role in the family structure, but it is Jo’s determined personality that guides them.
In Gilead, a father ( who knows he is dying) writes a series of letters to his young son telling him the story of his family, so that the memories and legacies will live on long after he is gone. This book explores the family dynamics from the male gender. The Joy Luck Club explores it from the female perspective of mothers and daughters and the decisions each branch of the family tree makes that effects the other.
If you’ve only seen the Godfather movie and not read the book, you’ve done yourself a disservice. While the movie is fab, the book is so much more detailed and in depth into what the Corleone family goes to to ensure its members are protected. The book deals with every facet of family from loyalty, to betrayal, to what family obligations really mean and how high their costs can be.
3. My favorite category, of course, is romantic love and the two books listed, Pride and Prejudice and Gone With The Wind are my two favorite books of all time, as anyone who is a frequent reader of my blog knows! Pride and Prejudice set the tone and example for what a romantic novel should be almost 3oo years ago. Jane Austen quite literally redefined the blueprint of the romance book. And, like Little Women, the protagonist is a second sister. Independent, outspoken, opinionated Elizabeth Bennet is Fitzwilliam Darcy’s foil on every level. Or is she? That’s the crux of their story. This may be the first enemies to lovers trope written and it is still at the top of the heap.
Mitchell’s GWTW tells the tale of another independent and opinionated woman, Scarlett O’Hara, but where most people who have seen the movie think Rhett Butler was the love of her life, they’d be wrong. Which is why, in my mind, the book is always better than the movie. Hands down. Scarlett’s one real, enduring love is her home, Tara. Keeping it is the motivator in almost all of her actions and thoughts, something the book details way better than the movie ever could.
4. The last “Love” category explored was the Enduring love story, or the love that lasts eternally. Some of the choices here were a bit odd to me, but when delved into, do deserve to be here. They include Call of the Wild, The Notebook and (another fav of mine) Anne of Green Gables.
Call Of the Wild tells -at its basic level – the story of a man and his dog – and how that love they have for each other endures even when one of them dies. While I am not a Nicholas Sparks fan, the Notebook does a good job of showing how, when you love someone, you will go through all the trials and fires of life with them and still love them even when they don’t remember who you are.
Anne Shirley is another of those protagonists who just settles into you heart from the first page. By her shear love of life, living, and people, she turns a sour, dour spinster who doesn’t even want Anne, into a woman who is devoted to Anne entirely. This book covers all aspects of love, from family to friendship, to romantic love, and enduring love. It’s a great book!!
This documentary series has been so wonderful to watch and learn from, I sincerely hope you catch it when it’s aired or watch it on demand or on-line later. Since it’s so much easier for me to speak than write – go figure!- I’ll be giving a facebook Live talk this afternoon on my FB author page at 2pm EST of you want to join in and discuss some of these books. Here’s my link: Peggy Jaeger, Author Hope you can join me.