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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 05:54 pm (UTC)
I don't know if I can think of any couples to add, mostly because you already named, Maud and Susan, and Freddy and Kitty, two of my favorite couples ever.

Okay, I'll try.

Richard/Alec from Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner.

Venetia/Damerel from Venetia, by Georgette Heyer.

Jan. 19th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
Jack and Laurel from The Hanged Man. IS HE EVEN REAL!?
Jan. 19th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)

I want to buy every one of the books mentioned. Even the ones I already have.

(because it's not like you can ever have too many books.)
Jan. 19th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
I LOVE Alistair and Mirabel in Loretta Chase's Miss Wonderful - she's an aggressively sensible woman who's been running her father's estate for years, he's a romantic, sensitive dandy, together they're adorable!
Jan. 19th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
I will have to give my own favorite romances more thought when I'm not at work. But I had to write in right now and tell you how very, very much I adore Laura/Sorry. Not only is it one of my favorite YA romances, but there's a faint possibility it spoiled me for real live teenage boys back when I was a teenage girl. *blush*
Jan. 19th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
Ooh! I love this! Gen and Attolia rule! AND Darcy and Elizabeth And Howl and Sophie ...and -- and I'm going to run out right now and read the books on your list I haven't gotten to yet.

In the meantime, may I present for your consideration Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane? Now there's a love story in unforgettable conversations! Do you agree?

(and -- if anybody knows them, what about Kai Lung and Hwa Mei, from "Kai Lung's Golden Hours?")

And I also think Rochester was well tempered by fire at the end of "Jane Eyre" No selling children for him -- and Jane herself rules! Heathcliffe and Cathy? Not so much!
Jan. 19th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
That summary of Sophie and Howl made me laugh so hard!
Even though the later "Wizard's Castle" books are not really about them so much, their relationship is still brilliantly done.

DWJ seems to have a talent for writing at-first-unlikely couples e.g.: Maree and Rupert in "Deep Secret"; Nick and Roddy in "The Merlin Conspiracy"; and Ann and Mordion in "Hexwood" -

ANN: agh, you have a camel coat and a skull face!
MORDION: would you mind if I used some of your blood? here, have some of my weird spacefood.

Others I love - Claire and Jamie in the Outlander series; Susan and James in "Freedom & Necessity".... joy.
Jan. 19th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
Maree and Rupert! I love them!
(no subject) - queenofbirds.wordpress.com - Jan. 20th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elvenjaneite - Jan. 20th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
"Come visit me through our secret passageways and we'll do pillowplotting."

Oh yes. Gen and Irene: more doublecross-y and secret agent-y then any modern double-crossing secret agent could ever hope to be!

Also quite sexy in a sort of "No one knows we're doing it teehee!" kind of way.
Jan. 19th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
Oh I laughed so much! The stories I know made me crack up from the familiarity, the ones I don't know were awesome enough anyway (and why haven't I read any Georgette Heyer yet).

When asked to name my favorite couples, I can't think of them off the top of my head; apparently I need to see other people's favorites and then say "OH YES, THEM!" or "Okay whatever" or "Um, no." So, I guess I can second the "OH YES, THEM!"s I've seen here so far: yes Elizabeth/Darcy (who doesn't); Sophie/Howl; Anne/Gilbert (probably one of the first couples I ever loved-- I hated romance with such a passion as a child otherwise); Beatrice/Benedick!; Ron/Hermione; Sam/Sybil Vimes; hmm, I never THOUGHT of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth as my favorite COUPLE, but theirs IS my favorite romance of all time, so I guess them too.... Yes, my couples also need to really communicate with each other. I need my couples to be FRIENDS with each other!

...but if I must disagree with you somewhere: I just read Queen of Attolia the other day, and I'm still with EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD about that one. I can see her inner sympathetic points and know she's not TOTALLY a heartless and bloodthirsty monster, but still it seems a bit sick. I mean, imagine how it would look if you switched the genders around, with a girl being all "I LOVE YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU HURT ME!" to a violent guy. Ick. But perhaps my opinion will change after I read the next book.
Jan. 19th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
I have to say I wasn't totally sold until King of Attolia, but that really sold me. Mind you, Attolia's character never bothered me: I think because the gender inversion does help, as it's made clear she has to be a harsh monarch precisely because she's a girl and has been mistreated because of that in the past. And Gen was breaking the law, so!
(no subject) - bookaddict88 - Jan. 19th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rockinlibrarian - Jan. 20th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jan. 19th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
To go really old-school -- Odysseus and Penelope from The Odyssey. *heart flutters*

And Tarzan and Jane! (From the original books, thank you very much, none of this Disney nonsense.) And Korak and Miriam, too. *sighs happy sighs of joy*

And Sophie and Howl, of course, and Roger and Brianna from the Outlander series. Jamie and Claire come in second; Roger and Brianna.
Jan. 19th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
Odysseus and Penelope are a great choice. He just wanted to get back to her, she just wanted him back. She got to be all tough and kick-butt and conniving while he was gone instead of just doing what would have been easy and expected. Oh it's good!
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Jan. 19th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
So... Claire and Jamie anyone? Yeah, Outlander is definitely my not so guilty pleasure.

Also, Jaime/Jeremy from Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series and Phedre/Joscelin from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy probably finish off my top three. I'm also realizing that I have way to many favourite literary couples.
Jan. 19th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
I mentioned them upthread.
but YES!

I am unapologetic about my love for Claire and Jamie. and Brianna and Roger, but to a lesser extent.
Jan. 19th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
Considering the fact that I absolutely LOVE the pairings I know (Elizabeth/Darcy, Kitty/Freddy, Sophy/Howl, Laura/Sorry), I should really get the books with those pairings I don't know.
Jan. 19th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
The fact that you have Gen and Attolia on there makes me so happy I could cry. That whole series (did you know there are 3 books now? Of course, the third isn't that recent, but I totally didn't know about it until around 2 years ago, and it is fantastic) would be my "desert island" pick. They are so dysfunctional, but so very, very human in their relationship...I just...

Jan. 19th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, some of the little skit had book three in it. ;) Book four comes out in March! And is very good.
Jan. 19th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
Will and Lyra from His Dark Materials even though (or maybe because) the ending kills me....although I think that breaks your rules of them having to get together?
Jan. 19th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
ooo but they kinda do...and then can't ever again.
it kills me too. I've reread the first two in the trilogy so much more than the last, because although it's amazing it makes me sad every time.
(no subject) - ayamizuno - Jan. 20th, 2010 12:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
I am utterly and completely mad for Claudia/Jared from Catherine Fisher's Incarceron, which I am beginning to think nobody will ever love as I do (the pairing, that is; quite a few people seem to like the book). Of all the potential pairs in that series, it's the one nobody talks about as even being a possibility, because Claudia is destined for a dynastic marriage and she herself seems to accept that as a necessity of life. Not to mention that Jared is Somewhat Unwell and therefore not really a good bet for a long-term relationship anyway. So you would think that the author didn't mean me to Ship It Like Burning, especially since she's on record as not particularly caring about the romances in her books, and YET she insists on having people twit Jared about his feelings for Claudia and have Claudia say "[something that could easily interpreted as romantic, actual spoiler redacted]" right to Jared's face, and they have this incredibly strong relationship built on trust and respect and mutual admiration, and yet they never even touch each other, and ARGH.

Sorry, I just had to rant about that, never mind. I just want a third book where Jared/Claudia is canon, very very badly. Sigh.
Jan. 19th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you reminded me of that book, R.J.! I've been waiting and waiting for it -- and there's still only 1 copy in our entire library system (I ordered it AGES ago....)

I'm looking forward to reading about some great, new characters -- in a Catherine Fisher book!! Yay!
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