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The Best Couples in Books Ever!

I have loved many a fictional romance. Sometimes I love them because of how well they are done, sometimes I love them because I love one of the characters and like or can tolerate the other one.

Sometimes I love both the characters, and the way they get together.

I have chosen books in which the story's finished and the characters do get together: there are some couples I love but have not mentioned as they are NOT YET TOGETHER in ongoing serieseses...es (Kate and Curran in Ilona Andrews's Magic series, Derek and Chloe in Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series). There are some couples written by authors I know who I will leave out lest I be accused of partiality (even though Ravus and Val from Holly Black's Valiant are the best ever). There are some couples I love but who never actually became couples, which is a HORRIBLE TRAGEDY.

But those couples who do get together, and who are the best ever:

Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Of Course, Everyone Says That. My favourite example of attraction without Austen ever mentioning such a thing: even when Elizabeth hates Darcy, you notice how they talk to each other, zinging back and forth.

Maud and Sue, Sarah Waters's Fingersmith - They spend most of the book lying to each other. And being brilliant, one in a very intellectual and one in a very street-smart way. And through lies find truth, and love. In a library.

Kitty and Freddy, Georgette Heyer's Cotillion - She believes he's a complete fool, nice but only capable of thinking about his waistcoats. He believes she's an utter nuisance, nice but totally uninterested in fashion. All of London seems to believe he is sexless or gay or at the very least incapable of attracting a woman. His rakish cousin believes he can insult a lady in Freddy's presence. Everybody's wrong.

Gen and Irene, Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series - How do I put this? It's sort of like the Artful Dodger falling for Snow White's Evil Stepmother.

Sophie and Howl, Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle - A vain, cowardly Welsh wizard and a grumpy, practical hat-maker enchanted to look like an eighty-year-old lady. What could be more romantic? Again, they learn about each other through interacting: Sophie's impressions of Howl start off from Step 1) Cold-blooded murderer, eats hearts, to 2) Total idiot, in love with his own hair.

Laura and Sorry, Margaret Mahy's The Changeover. The best YA romance I have ever read, possibly the best YA I have ever read, and I will explain why. For this post was meant to be a no-holds-barred recommendation for The Changeover before I got carried away.

Laura Chant is a Maori-appearing girl in New Zealand with a blond mother and brother and an absent father. (The Maori-appearingness is a cool detail Mahy never goes into. I wish she did! But I find it awesome that it's there.) Sorensen Carlisle is a blond witch guy, which came as a bit of a shock to his all-female witch family.

Laura's on a mission to save her little brother. (UM. Apparently, I got the idea that was an awesome mission to be on from somewhere. Sorry, Margaret Mahy, that was unconscious. I can only blame how OVERPOWERINGLY AWESOME you are.) He's having the life sucked out of him by the creepiest toy shop owner in the world, and when Laura goes to Sorry for help, he thinks she's arrived because they have a ROMANTIC CONNECTION. Awkward!

Also turns out, only Laura herself can save her brother. Luckily, Laura is really awesome. In other news, Sorry is the least smooth operator in the history of time.

I have also decided to give you some SUMMARIES of these magnificent love tales.

Great Love Stories, Spoilers For Everything AboveCollapse )

As you can perhaps see, I don't seem to care for love at first sight at all! I do seem to care for people examining and taking apart classic 'romantic' ideas, and sensible ladies, and guys who don't care about stereotypes and are willing to embrace things like a) fashion, b) romance novels, c) awesome ladies. I like romance to take place in the midst of a ton of other stuff, like adventures, and crazy plots, because I like a couple with other stuff besides gazing at each others' beauty going on! I like people being equal but very different.

But what I like best of all, and what makes me believe most of all in a pairing, is seeing people communicate - use words rather than a Magical Love Connection to learn about each other, become real to each other. And in the process, to us.

So - words/Sarah forever! What are your favourite couples ever?


( 307 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 19th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
No, no, Jane and Rochester WILL BE FINE somehow. Rochester just needed to be set on fire a little bit, he's like a creme brulee!

The best couple I can think of, looking all the more attractive for being in the same work as one of the worst, must be Beatrice and Benedick. "I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is that not strange?"

Otherwise I loved Cal and Julie in Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (mainly just because I love nearly everything about that book). It's strange, because their relationship is a very small strand of the narrative, and Julie is a relatively minor character sketched in very sparing (but very effective!) strokes so it's almost worryingly close to girl as Narrative Prize. But still by the end you're all, OH GOD PLEASE BE OKAY YOU TWO PLEASE KISS OR I SHALL NEVER GET OVER IT.
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
OMG I realised I had forgotten any mention of Middlesex, which is one of my favourite books ever ever, when I commented earlier, and then I decided not to double post, but OMG Cal/Julie is wonderful. So so lovely and perfect. Cal is seriously one of my favourite characters in anything ever, and Julie is just awesome. And when I thought she wasn't going to come back I was seriously sad, and then she did and I was all :D :D :D

Wow, this is a seriously squeeful comment. But yes. Absolutely.
(no subject) - sophiamcdougall - Jan. 19th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - branquignole - Jan. 20th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
OH KATE/CURRAN = LOVE. They're Most Awesome together. (Also: Kate!icon.)

My favourite couples, hm. I am extremely in love with Elend/Vin (Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy) because they're Insecurity!

VIN: I think Elend does not love me. I can never be a queen! He needs a queen who's all lady-like and wears these impractical thingies, what-are-they-called, dresses. OH MY GOD THAT'S SO NOT ME he can't love me!

ELEND: I think Vin thinks me weak. She's so tough and awesome and about thousandfold as manly as I am! I think she does not love me OH NOES.

And they're cute. And they have chemistry. And they kind of become a Superhero Team.
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
... I think we read all the same books.
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Megan Whalen Turner rocked my world with The Thief. When I found out there were sequels, I swooned. Dramatically.
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
I haven't reread it, so I'm not certain, but I remember being very fond of Yelena/Valek in Poison Study.

I remember being less fond of the following book, Magic Study, but so it goes...
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
Oooh, favourite couples! I'm definitely in the camp of all of the above people who are flailing over Beatrice and Benedick, for all the same reasons.
Other couples: Polly Whittaker and Thomas Lynn, from Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock - they're twisted and complicated and real. The ideal fictional lasting relationship to me is probably Nick and Nora Charles: wit, martinis, and oodles of affection under the sophisticated veneer. On the Austen front, I actually really like Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth; I find them both to be very sympathetic characters, and I love the fact that their relationship is complicated as much by their own personalities as it is by exterior circumstances.
Hmmm. I seem to be rather fond of the tangled-up, not necessarily certain relationships. This is vaguely worrying...
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)
'Nother vote for Anne Elliot & Captain Wentworth. Best letter in the history of letter writing. :)
(no subject) - bookaddict88 - Jan. 19th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bookblather - Jan. 19th, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - venilia - Feb. 19th, 2010 07:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
I think I kind of maybe found a Mr Darcy but I do not think it is going to end with carriage rides to Pemberley. I shall settle for long-term platonic friendship.
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
Also I have just bought The Changeover, Fingersmith and Cotillion. I bought The Thirteenth Tale before Christmas. I blame you for all of this.

By which I mean, ♥
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
I kind of love your breakdown of Pride & Prejudice. :)
Jan. 19th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
I've got to mention:

Georgia and Dave the Laugh from the Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison


Ella and Prince Char from Ella Enchanted.

Jan. 20th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
Vis-a-vis Georgia and Dave the Laugh: OHMYGODYES.
Also Rosie and Sven for because they are a beautiful and perfect collision of crazy.
(no subject) - 3wishesfreehugs - Jan. 23rd, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Eeeeeeeee! I love your descriptions. (And have read Cotillion. And yes, it is exactly like that. Also? KITTY: You know, turns out in real life RAKES, like my SEXY COUSIN JACK, actually want to seduce and ruin innocent women. You know, maybe RAKES AREN'T SEXY AT ALL. -- This sentence RULES!)

*thinks about favorite couples*

Antryg + Joanna, from Barbara Hambly's The Silent Tower, The Silicon Mage, Dog Wizard, and "Firemaggot" (short story; see barbarahambly.com).

I am also fond of the side-story in that universe, Stranger at the Wedding, but have not re-read it recently enough to remember details. (Unlike at least two or three kissy scenes from the above. After over a decade. ER and UM.)

Miles and Ekaterine, Bujold's A Civil Campaign.

My own grand unpublished novel, la la la. *facepalm*
Jan. 19th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
Vorkosigans, hooray! She proposed and he was like "Can we do it now before you change your mind? I have witnesses!"
(no subject) - bookblather - Jan. 19th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bookaddict88 - Jan. 19th, 2010 10:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - archangelbeth - Jan. 20th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bookaddict88 - Jan. 20th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, as portrayed in Rudolf Besier's play The Barretts of Wimpole street. (haven't seen the movie versions) Brilliant but sickly poetess meets younger hurricane.

ELIZABETH BARRETT: My pen-pal Mister Browning is coming to visit for the first time to-day. I am so nervous! Okay, let him in. No wait, don't. No, wait....


ROBERT BROWNING: Hello ohmigosh this room looks exactly like I pictured it except that bust which I thought was over there and it's AWESOME and your poems are AWESOME and you're AWESOME and I love your poems and I love this room and I LOVE YOU no really I'm not just saying that I mean it I meant it in the letters too is that too forward I don't think it is but I'll shut up about it for now but I still totally mean it because you are so AWESOME and oh god you are reading my old poems why the critics didn't understand them and frankly neither do I these days but all your poems are AWESOME and you totally have to keep writing them no matter what the doctor says because I think that stuff about ladies needing to avoid mental over-exertion is bunkum you shouldn't avoid the very thing that makes you so AWESOME okay gotta go same time next week is that okay wild horses couldn't keep me away cause you're just that AWESOME okay love you oops wasn't gonna say that sorry see you next week bye!


Jan. 19th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
YES I LOVE THAT PLAY SO MUCH. Oh, man, I'm just squeeing all over this post today, but the Barrets of Wimpole Street is just so wonderfully awesome. And their real life romance was very close to the play. It's so... oh, man, I swoon every time they have that conversation where she's all, "The hell did you mean by this line" and Browning's all, "...I really don't know anymore" and then they look at each other all smolderingly and you know they want to make out. Ahem. But yes, Browning is like her biggest fangirl ever and it is adorable and wonderful and I kind of love your summary.
(no subject) - dejadrew - Jan. 20th, 2010 05:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
I will also have to put in my vote for Anne and Gilbert. Theirs is the only "consummation" scene I still get a fluttery feeling over.

"I have a dream," he said slowly. "I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends -- and YOU!"

I...just have no words.

MAUD/SUE! I am so glad someone else has read FINGERSMITH. I'm a huge fan of Sarah Waters. Also, there needs to be more lesbians in Victorian fiction. It's why I loved Fee/Pippa so from Libba Bray's A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY.

I will also say I adore Jane/Rochester. Not everyone agrees with me, including my very good friends. (It is very lonely in my world of Jane/Rochester love.) I admire that Jane doesn't put up with any of his shit (and boy does he have a lot of shit to put up with) and that their relationship seemed to be founded on a very good friendship rather than, as you once said, "the sizzle of burning loins" (although some of that was there).
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
mmmm.... I agree completely with Sophie and Howl, Attolia and Gen, Kitty and Freddy, and Lizzie and Darcy.

Also, with the comments above for Anne and Gilbert. From when I was about 11, Gilbert Blythe struck me as pretty much the perfect man, and that hasn't really changed.

I think one comment above mentioned Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey, and another John Smythe and Vicky Bliss. Those are definitely in my top five, if not higher, although I find them very similar pairings--prickly women, the blond, tricky, ostensibly cowardly men who love them devotedly. (Hmm, Sophie and Howl fit this one too). I think that's my personal favourite trope. Maybe it comes from being a prickly woman myself ;-) Of course, with these sorts of pairings, you get lots of witty repartee too.

Oh! And Flora and Udo from Ysabeau Wilce's Flora books! She's far too busy saving the world and her family for romance, and he's her vain best friend who wears makeup and sparkly red boots, and who spends moments of danger complimenting her clothes and wanting to make out. I really want these two to get together.
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Best Couples in Books
Lizzy and Darcy popped into my head when I read the title of your post.I love them together. I have seen you mentioned Ravus and Val a couple of times and I agree whole heartily and want to see much more of them(Hopefully Holly goes on with the series). I was in the chat with you, Cassie, and Holly at the Mundie Moms blog chat. It was so much fun!! Anywho;) I haven't read any of the other books you have listed and will look into them. Thanks for sharing and always being so funny. You always brighten my day. Luv ya!
P.S. I also metioned on the chat that I was going to read your book and I did..I freakin loved it and I can't wait for The Demon's Covenant.
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Best Couples in Books
*beams* I am so glad you liked the book! And I am glad you know the love of Lizzy and Darcy and Ravus and Val: Holly has a new short story about Roiben in her book The Poison Eaters, so yay. (Even though Roiben, he cannot hold a candle to Ravus. In my opinion...)
Jan. 19th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
My favourite couple is Darcy and Alex in Racing the Moon by Terry Prone.

Also, though you may not want to hear it, Harry and Draco from Drop Dead Gorgeous.

And Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, who get extra points for being real.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 21st, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
This is so true! It's a very strange dynamic but I totally root for them. (I will admit, however, to never re-reading the hand-cutting off section.)
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