Has third term left you longing for peaceable solitude rather than the buzz of festivals? Perhaps you just need a few days of quiet before you start checking off that plethora of events clogging up your calendar. Well, no reader’s summer is complete without falling utterly, hopelessly in love with someone who does not exist beyond the pages of a paperback. Exams are over, the sun is shining, and romance is in the air, so take some time to find out why, exactly, these literary heroes and heroines should be the subject of your devoted and fully unrequited adoration.
1.) The Star-Crossed Lover: Henry DeTamble from Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveller’s Wife”
If you’ve never read The Time Traveller’s Wife, your experience of literary heartbreak is limited. Not for the sensitive and easily troubled reader, Henry and Clare’s passionate story is fraught with tension and tempered with gratuitous loss. Henry’s unusual genetic condition wreaks havoc on their lives, and yet if you close the book without feeling a little jealous of Mrs DeTamble, you’ve a harder heart than me. His charming and utterly unique character is, though, perhaps better suited to a fictitious summer fling than a long term relationship.
2.) Burning Passion: Danaerys Targaryen from George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”
The khaleesi is the very embodiment of the aphorism “Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack.” Defying every obstacle set in her path by a notoriously cruel author, Danaerys inspires awe and adoration in her fellow characters and readers alike. Along with Cersei Lannister, the young woman dominates the male sphere of leadership with class and fortitude. Empowered by her sexuality rather than constrained by it, Danaerys takes pleasure from her personal relationships, compartmentalising dutifulness firmly into her political life. You have to hand it to Martin; he might have an dark fascination with brutally killing them off, but the women he writes are wholly worthy of falling a little bit in love with.
3.) Moody and Misunderstood: Arin from Marie Rutkoski’s “The Winner’s Trilogy”
The Winner’s Trilogy makes for an easier read than the Song of Ice and Fire saga, but that doesn’t mean Rutkoski’s characters lack depth and pathos. Arin, a man made a slave in his own country, finds his convicted revolutionary beliefs and his heart’s desire for his mistress, Kestrel, seem to conflict in a way which makes his own personal happiness an impossible wish to fulfill. Rutkoski’s tale explores an elegant, and at times brutal, courtship with political and personal repercussions which is sure to leave you starry-eyed.
4.) The Dreamer: Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”
You’d be a fool to not love Lizzie. Austen’s most famous heroine is wholly deserving of the accolade she refers. Sharp-minded, strong-willed and free-hearted,
Lizzie Bennett’s romantic ideals reject the conformity of Georgian courtship as she carves her own path through life. Her status as a powerful literary woman is not in the slightest threatened by her more tender attributes, such as her love and concern for her little sister Lydia which overwhelms her to the point of physical sickness. When she courts, it’s on her terms, and her human errors, made in the pursuit of true and moral love, only endear her all the more.