Perhaps I could say it was Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, because that's the first book I recall reading that I would consider a novel.
I was nine years old, and Mom had been trying to get me to read the Anne books. Just the first one, she coaxed. I refused, because it seemed to me in my headstrong brain that any book my mother recommended wasn't something I would enjoy. Eventually, I ran out of books to read, so I secretly started reading Anne of Green Gables. So secretly in fact, that I was hiding the book in the kitchen cabinet by the phone. Not even kidding. I also don't know why, fifteen years later, I can remember this with such clarity. Actually, maybe I do. It was my entry into the world of classic novels and absolutely beautiful worlds. Plus, Anne Shirley is definitely the first character I came across that made me want to be a redhead.
I never did finish the Anne series; I reread the first three a few times, though. I've read other books by L.M. Montgomery, too. Such an idyllic world, there on Prince Edward Island. I have a feeling it's also Anne Shirley's fault that I'm in love with the Victorian and Edwardian eras. (And the Betsy-Tacy series.)
So, my first love was a novel. (Incidentally, age nine was also when I had my first real crush on a boy...which lasted until we were fifteen.) Since then, there have been many other novels I fell in love with. On this Valentine's Day, let me share with you a list of novels that I love and are, incidentally, kind of about love. And not just the romantic kind. Friendship love is just as important!
- Persuasion, Jane Austen (and her other novels, but this one is the sweetest, I think.)
- Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
- Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (this is one of my favorite novels of all time.)
- Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (NOT a woman. this book is a great story about intense friendship and love and how they can entangle themselves in ways that aren't good.)
- Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
- To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (more about friendship and acceptance.)
- Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (just a powerful tome all around.)
- A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton-Porter (more about familial love, and heart-wrenching, too.)
- I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (I liken this a bit to Brideshead Revisited in theme.)
There you have a short list. I will add one honorable mention, because it's one of my favorite novels ever and should have "classic" status: The Scottish Chiefs, by Jane Porter. Published in 1809, this is a highly Romanticized version of the Scottish fight for freedom with William Wallace and Robert Bruce (who I might be related to!), but oh, so excellent. I made it an honorable mention because the love story between Wallace and his wife is so incredible, Biblical, and pure.
So, what are you favorite novels (classic or modern) about love? And why?