Valentines Day is coming up and love is in the air. People are obsessed. I’ve been seeing chocolate hearts, soppy cards, and stuffed animals for bloody ages now. I’m getting sick of it but decided I couldn’t really avoid it. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of Instagram challenges, which has been fine but there are times when I really have to think about certain prompts. The most recent one I struggled with was “Favourite Literary Couple”. When it comes to traditional views on literary love I tend to buck the trends. I hate Romeo and Juliet. Heathcliffe and Cathy are a disaster. Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester is a creepy relationship. Gatsby and Daisy are in no way relationship goals. And the less said about The Fault in our Fucking Stars the better. So I struggled to find a literary couple that I actually was rooting for. It was pretty difficult, So what was the next logical step? To force myself to come up with 9 more. Obviously.
Ten: Rob and Laura – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
I know I come back to High Fidelity so often but it is one of my favourite novels. So sue me. Still, I have to admit that I had to stretch my parameters a little for this one. I mean Rob’s initial relationship with Laura isn’t great and he acts like a complete dick towards her. It’s no wonder she leaves him considering how much he takes her for granted. However, the beauty of the relationship is that Rob is able to learn that Laura really is the ideal woman for him. He overcomes his demons and learns to accept commitment. At the end of the novel, Rob and Laura are ready for a real relationship.
Nine: Westley and Buttercup – The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I have my doubts about this one because it’s too much of a fairytale romance. Still, there can be no denying that the story of Buttercup and the stable boy is lovely. The lengths that Westley goes to in order to rescue his love are just something you can’t ignore. And “as you wish”? Well, I still consider those to be some of the most romantic words ever uttered in fiction. Westley’s love is so selfless. He says I love you by doing what he thinks Buttercup wants. And then, later in the novel, Buttercup reiterates Westley’s sentiments with her own speech. These two are focused on each other solely. It’s hard not to get swept up in the romance of it all.
Eight: Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver – Esiotrot by Roald Dahl
Esiotrot probably isn’t a very well known Dahl story but it is one I’m kind of obsessed with. When I was younger I loved the mutliple tortoises because I was a kid. Now, I’m obsessed with the depth of Mr Hoppy’s love for his neighbour. He secretly buys loads of different sized tortoises on order to make her happy. It’s an incredibly weird love story but it’s an utterly adorable one. Who needs hearts and flowers when you’ve got magically a growing pet?
Seven: Eowyn and Faramir – The Lord of the Rings by George RR Tolkien
When most people think of Lord of the Rings they’ll probably think of Aragorn and Arwen as the best love story. However, I’ve never been a fan of book Arwen. She’s weak, feeble and basically non-existent. The only thing we really ever learn about her is that she’s pretty. So it’s difficult to really believe or care about the depth of their love. However, Eowyn is a completely different story. Eowyn is an independent and strong woman who manages to help defeat the fucking Witch King. She’s amazing. So it’s great to see her settle down with a man who really deserves and appreciates her. The brief moments we see of them together are just glorious. A well-deserved happy ending for the two of them.
Six: Khal Drogo and Daenerys – ASOIAF by George RR Martin
Okay, so this couple get off to a rapey start. I get it. I’m not trying to suggest that they’re perfect. However, Drogo and Dany quickly became a power couple who truly loved each other. When Dany started to take control of her relationship and become her own version of a Khaleesie this pair became almost unstoppable. She loved him and he adored her. It was perfect. He was going to give her the Iron Throne and she became the fearless and loving leader he needed her to be. Drogo’s death was definitely one of the most heartbreaking thing George RR Martin has ever done. This couple would have been the greatest leaders that Westeros had ever seen.
Five: Beatrice and Benedick – Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing is my favourite Shakespeare play. I’ve probably mentioned that numerous times. It’s mainly because Beatrice is the only Shakespearean leading lady that I can actually stand. She’s clever, powerful, and doesn’t give a shit about finding true love. Until her friends and family convince her otherwise. Yes, she and Benedick bicker but that’s all part of the fun. They have a real fiery passion and, when they come to realise that they actually love each other, then they are a perfect match. That passion and fire is turned on each other and they make a loving couple. It’s the classic Freudian thing of being mean to those you love most but it’s still a great story. These two are equals.
Four: Don and Rosie – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I wasn’t sure about including these two on my list. I mean this book was adorable and everything but I felt it was a little too twee in relation to Don’s autistic traits. It seemed to be romanticising the condition and making the whole thing seem a bit too much like a fairy tale. However, there is something fantastic about seeing this relationship come about on the page. From their first meeting when Don decides that Rosie isn’t a viable candidate for ‘the Wife Project’ to his eventual realisation that she’s the only viable candidate.
Three: Remus and Tonks – Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Remus and Tonks got short shrift in the Harry Potter films. Their relationship is glossed over so much that it barely registers. I mean their son is mentioned once and he was supposed to be the mirror for Harry himself. It’s a disgrace. Still, in the books, their romance is a subplot that hangs around from Order of the Phoenix onwards. They have their problems at the start but eventually come to really care for each other. In the end, Lupin wants to keep Tonks safe but she doesn’t want him going in to battle without her. Their death is tragic but, in a sordid way, kind of romantic. They fight and die together. They’re two very good people who lay down their lives so their son can have a better life. That’s not just relationship goals; it’s parenting goals.
Two: Ned and Catelyn – ASOIAF by George RR Martin
When the Instagram challenge of “best fictional couple” came up recently these two were my first thought. I know Cat was supposed to marry Ned’s elder brother Brandon but, after he died, the pair managed to make the best of a bad situation. They were loving parents to their 5 children and they really cared for each other. Cat loved Ned’s quiet, stately, and moral ways and Ned loved her strength and determination. She even allowed Ned to bring his, supposed, bastard child into their family home and allowed him to be raised alongside her children. Yes, she had a certain amount of resentment towards Jon but you’ve got to give her props for not just chucking him out or having him killed or something. She clearly loved him enough to give him his way. It’s just a shame that we only see them together for such a short time in the books. If only Ned had gone back to Winterfell before confronting Cersei. The trusting old fool. They also happen to the best couple in the whole series. The only loving and stable relationship in all of Westeros.
One: Molly and Arthur – Harry Potter by JK Rowling
I can’t believe I forgot about these two when I did my post. I mean if there was one marriage in the whole of literary history that screams relationship goals then it’s this one. Molly and Arthur are not only fantastic on their own but together they have such a loving and happy relationship. It’s not a mad or crazy passion but it’s comfortable and real. They have a normal and loving marriage where they argue and disagree but, ultimately, they care for each other and their children. I think literature is too often littered with unrealistic romantic expectations. Everything is so hyperbolic and extreme. People falling in love in difficult circumstances and overcoming the odds to be together. It’s not for me. I just want people who are happy with each other. Where the relationships are easy and safe. They can rely on each other and things work with a little effort. Molly and Arthur are the most realistic representation of love that I’ve possibly ever read… if you ignore the magic and shit.