So you don’t think I’m a grinch

I found a list of “best romance novels of all time.” Here are my brief reactions. What are your favorites, on or off this list? (I find this list to be very British! None of the great Spanish-language novels are on this list, for example.)

  1. Les Liaisons Dangereuses [Choderlos de Laclos (1782)]. Read in college in a French Enlightenment course and I saw the movie. I liked it, but epistolary novels are not everyone’s thing. It’s also a more a story of romance gone wrong. But worth the read.
  2. Pride and Prejudice [Jane Austen (1813)]. Read when I was nine or ten, again in high school, and reread periodically since then. An absolute classic. Also, amusing.
  3. Jane Eyre [Charlotte Brontë (1847)]. Same as #2, except not amusing. It embarrasses me how much I like this book.
  4. Wuthering Heights [Emily Brontë (1847)]. Read in high school and again after encountering Richard Armitage in Sparkhouse. I liked it better the second time, but this style of writing isn’t really my cup of tea. However, recognizable as a great book.
  5. Madame Bovary [Gustave Flaubert (1856)]. Read in grad school in a Modern France course. I thought it was a good representative of the point it was supposed to illustrate in the course. Also, definitely a great book and thought-provoking, but not something that really touched my heart.
  6. The Portrait of a Lady [Henry James (1881)]. Reading while I was doing my dissertation research in Germany for distraction. It was good. I think you have to like Henry James to enjoy this.
  7. A Room with a View [EM Forster (1908)]. Read in grad school, and I’ve seen the movie. I was “meh” on this one.
  8. Le Grand Meaulnes [Alain-Fournier (1913)]. Have not read.
  9. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept [Elizabeth Smart (1945)]. Have not read, but sounds intriguing.
  10. Gone With the Wind [Margaret Mitchell (1936)]. Can’t tell you how often I have read this and seen the movie. I *love* Scarlett O’Hara. However, it’s on my “never again” list, since I’ve come to understand how much its cultural reception has distorted U.S. politics.
  11. Love in a Cold Climate [Nancy Mitford (1949)]. Have not read.  Would consider reading.
  12. The End of the Affair [Graham Greene (1951)]. Read in college during a Graham Greene reading jag. Admired it at the time, haven’t thought about it since.
  13. Oscar and Lucinda [Peter Carey (1988)]. Have not read; have not seen the movie; plot synopsis doesn’t interest me.
  14. Dr. Zhivago [Boris Pasternak (1957)]. Read and enjoyed after my sophomore year of high school; loved the movie.
  15. Norwegian Wood [Haruki Murakami (1987)]. I’ve always wanted to read this but never gotten around to it.
  16. Atonement [Ian McEwan (2001)]. Read on a train during the Germany-Texas years. Didn’t like it. Haven’t seen the movie.
  17. Bonjour Tristesse [Françoise Sagan (1954)]. Have not read, but would consider reading.
  18. The Swimming Pool Library [Alan Hollinghurst (1988)]. Have not read, but read another novel of Hollinghurst’s that I didn’t like, so probably a “no.”
  19. The Remains of the Day [Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)]. Read in the dissertation phase for distraction. Loved it, loved the movie, love the author’s other work.
  20. The Well of Loneliness [Radclyffe Hall (1928)]. Read in grad school in a culture course. Really, really sad.
  21. Women in Love [DH Lawrence (1920)]. Have not read, but was neutral on “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (probably you had to be there) and didn’t especially enjoy Lawrence’s short stories in college, so probably not.
  22. The Blue Flower [Penelope Fitzgerald (1995)]. Have not read.
  23. The Go-Between [LP Hartley (1953)]. Have not read.
  24. Death in Venice [Thomas Mann (1912)]. Read in grad school. I love Mann, but I don’t think of this as a romance.
  25. The Graduate [Charles Webb (1963)]. Have not read; saw the movie but don’t have a clear memory of it other than that Dustin Hoffman was cute. Not eager to revisit it given the recent revelations about Hoffman’s behavior.
  26. The French Lieutenant’s Woman [John Fowles (1969)]. Read one summer during high school, and again in December. Review forthcoming.
  27. The Far Pavilions [MM Kaye (1978)]. Have not read.
  28. The Piano Teacher [Elfriede Jelinek (1983)]. Have not read, but I’m “meh” on the author’s other works that I know.
  29. Foreign Affairs [Alison Lurie (1984)]. I know I read this in grad school, because I read everything she wrote back then, but I don’t have a clear memory of the book.
  30. The Lover [Marguerite Duras (1984)]. Have not read.
  31. The Passion [Jeanette Winterson (1987)]. Have not read, but I admired her recent memoir, so would consider reading.
  32. Possession [AS Byatt (1990)]. Read in grad school. Really did not get what all the fuss was about.
  33. The English Patient [Michael Ondaatje (1992)]. Saw the movie, was meh on it, tried the book, couldn’t finish it. So — no.
  34. Music & Silence [Rose Tremain (1999)]. Have not read.
  35. The Reader [Bernhard Schlink (1995)]. Read it in German when it came out — it was really disturbing book, but I read it more in the light of German politics of memory than as a romance, although there are romance stories included in it. Have not seen the film.

~ by Servetus on January 14, 2018.

21 Responses to “So you don’t think I’m a grinch”

  1. Let’s see… On this list I’ve read 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 14, 25, & 26. Love Austen (although I think Mr. Darcy was an idiot) and the Brontë sisters. But it’s probably telling that the only two I own copies of are Dr. Zhivago and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I have seen GWTW many times & get annoyed – I’ve little patience for Scarlett or Melanie. Melanie has no backbone & Scarlett hits a little too close to home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Les Liaisons Dangereuses [Choderlos de Laclos (1782)]. Saw both versions of the movie and love the story.
    Pride and Prejudice [Jane Austen (1813)]. Read in HS in my British Writers class. Have seen several different film versions. Love the story.
    Jane Eyre [Charlotte Brontë (1847)]. Never read it, but have seen four different versions of it on film. So far Michael Fassbender is my favorite Mr. Rochester.
    Wuthering Heights [Emily Brontë (1847)]. I don’t get the hype. Such a depressing story.
    Madame Bovary [Gustave Flaubert (1856)]. Never read. Tried to watch a recent version on film and didn’t like it.
    The Portrait of a Lady [Henry James (1881)]. Not a big fan of Henry James.
    A Room with a View [EM Forster (1908)]. Read the book and LOVED the movie. The film was my first introduction to DDL.
    Le Grand Meaulnes [Alain-Fournier (1913)]. Have not read.

    9.By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept [Elizabeth Smart (1945)]. Have not read.

    Gone With the Wind [Margaret Mitchell (1936)]. Have read it and have seen the movie SO MANY TIMES. One of my all time favorite movies. Never saw the Ashley attraction. He seemed such a wimp.
    Love in a Cold Climate [Nancy Mitford (1949)]. Have not read.
    The End of the Affair [Graham Greene (1951)]. Saw the movie…meh.
    Oscar and Lucinda [Peter Carey (1988)]. Have not read; saw the movie….meh

    14 Dr. Zhivago [Boris Pasternak (1957)]. One of my all-time favorite films.

    Norwegian Wood [Haruki Murakami (1987)]. Never read.
    Atonement [Ian McEwan (2001)]. Read the book and didn’t understand the hype. Saw the film only because of the great cast. Enjoyed the film a bit better than the book.
    Bonjour Tristesse [Françoise Sagan (1954)]. Have not read
    The Swimming Pool Library [Alan Hollinghurst (1988)]. Have not read
    The Remains of the Day [Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)]. Loved the movie
    The Well of Loneliness [Radclyffe Hall (1928)]. Never heard of it.
    Women in Love [DH Lawrence (1920)]. Have not read
    The Blue Flower [Penelope Fitzgerald (1995)]. Have not read.
    The Go-Between [LP Hartley (1953)]. Have not read.
    Death in Venice [Thomas Mann (1912)]. Never read.
    The Graduate [Charles Webb (1963)]. Saw the movie and didn’t like it.
    The French Lieutenant’s Woman [John Fowles (1969)]. Didn’t like the movie and found it very depressing.
    The Far Pavilions [MM Kaye (1978)]. Remember watching the mini-series in HS. Enjoyed it.
    The Piano Teacher [Elfriede Jelinek (1983)]. Have not read
    Foreign Affairs [Alison Lurie (1984)]. Have not read.
    The Lover [Marguerite Duras (1984)]. Have not read.

    31.The Passion [Jeanette Winterson (1987)]. Have not read

    Possession [AS Byatt (1990)]. Have not read.
    The English Patient [Michael Ondaatje (1992)]. Saw the movie, enjoyed it at the time.
    Music & Silence [Rose Tremain (1999)]. Have not read.
    The Reader [Bernhard Schlink (1995)]. Have not read.

    I will add some of my other favorites that are not on this list.

    Sense and Sensebility. Read during HS and have enjoyed several film versions over the years.
    Persuasion. Read in HS and enjoyed the various film versions.
    The Throrn Birds Read in HS and enjoyed the 1983 mini-series.
    The Notebook Loved the book and the movie.

    One of my all-time hated books…..Love Story Awful book and awful movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have read all of Michael Ondaatje’s books – I love the way he writes. The English Patient I found to be his most straightforward story. Anil’s Ghost is my favourite and In The Skin of The Lion I don’t quite get. I read Gone With the Wind when I was about twelve and probably read it five more times after that. I cried when Melanie died every time. I loved how fiesty Scarlett came to admire Melanie and her quiet strenght during the course of the book. Jane Eyre is an absolute favourite and The Wide Sargasso Sea. Now I’m really intrigured by By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – I will have to look for that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pride and Prejudice – I’ve seen and enjoyed movie versions, but haven’t read the book.
    & 4. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights – Read and loved them both. I’m a sucker for the dark, tragic romantic hero.
    A Room with a View – Saw the movie at the theatre and enjoyed it a lot at the time. I’m not sure I would like it as much now.
    Gone with the Wind – As a teenager and young adult, I fell in love with Rhett Butler (and Clark Gable). I loved that movie. In more recent years, I discovered the book and loved it even more. It is so much more than a romance, and it is a really interesting perspective on the times. I’ve read the book several times.
    Dr. Zhivago – Saw it a long time ago. Again, sucker for the tragic hero.
    Atonement – Saw it, but it didn’t make much of an impression and I don’t remember much about it.
    The Graduate – Is it really a romance? More a weird coming of age story, I guess.
    The Reader – Saw the movie. I’m not even sure I finished watching it because the “love affair” was really creepy, maybe because of the way it was acted. Not sure.
    As for others:
    I really loved the original Poldark series and all of the books. Again, a romance but so much more.
    The Time Traveller’s Wife is one of my favourite books, and they did an excellent job bringing the story to life in the movie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The issue with GWTW in the US is that it’s very much become the major or at times only story that people know about the Civil War — and that’s a problem.

      Time Traveler’s Wife: YES. YES. The book was stunning and I’ve given it as a present many times.

      The Reader — no, that’s definitely a creepy love affair. There was some speculation at the time that it was supposed to be metaphorical / allegorical.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m curious about the Jelinek book being on this list. I have not tried to read it but some Goodreads friends of mine did and some of them gave up halfway through.
    I didn’t like The English Patient movie either, my sister loves it, can’t understand why.

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  6. Les Liaisons Dangereuses [Choderlos de Laclos (1782)]. Read of course …Well, it’s not my style
    Pride and Prejudice [Jane Austen (1813)]. Read – the French translation is not so good … So I read it again in English
    Jane Eyre [Charlotte Brontë (1847)]. – read (in French, I guess)
    Wuthering Heights [Emily Brontë (1847)]. Read !
    Madame Bovary [Gustave Flaubert (1856)]. Read in high school. I remember I had to talk about it for grdauation (baccalauréat)
    The Portrait of a Lady [Henry James (1881)]. Read and really enjoyed it
    A Room with a View [EM Forster (1908)]. Read it. Saw the movie
    Le Grand Meaulnes [Alain-Fournier (1913)].Read it. It’s quite short so it worth it
    By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept [Elizabeth Smart (1945)]. – Haven’t read
    Gone With the Wind [Margaret Mitchell (1936)]. read it + movie
    Love in a Cold Climate [Nancy Mitford (1949)]. I think I’ve read something else by Nancy Mitford…can’t remember…
    The End of the Affair [Graham Greene (1951)].haven’t read
    Oscar and Lucinda [Peter Carey (1988)]. Haven’t read
    Dr. Zhivago [Boris Pasternak (1957)]. Read it
    Norwegian Wood [Haruki Murakami (1987)]. – read others from Murakami
    Atonement [Ian McEwan (2001)]. Read it
    Bonjour Tristesse [Françoise Sagan (1954)]. read it
    The Swimming Pool Library [Alan Hollinghurst (1988)]. Have not read
    The Remains of the Day [Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)]. Loved the book, loved the movie too .
    The Well of Loneliness [Radclyffe Hall (1928)]. Have not read
    -Women in Love [DH Lawrence (1920)]. Have not read,
    -The Blue Flower [Penelope Fitzgerald (1995)]. Have not read.
    -The Go-Between [LP Hartley (1953)]. Have not read.
    Death in Venice [Thomas Mann (1912)]. Read it
    The Graduate [Charles Webb (1963)]. Have not read but saw the movie
    The French Lieutenant’s Woman [John Fowles (1969)]. Read it
    The Far Pavilions [MM Kaye (1978)]. Have not read.
    The Piano Teacher [Elfriede Jelinek (1983)]. Have not read
    Foreign Affairs [Alison Lurie (1984)]. read it (Liaisons étrangères is the French title)
    -The Lover [Marguerite Duras (1984)]. I love Duras so yeah, read it – L’amant (the lover) is a great book
    The Passion [Jeanette Winterson (1987)]. Have not read
    Possession [AS Byatt (1990)]. read it
    The English Patient [Michael Ondaatje (1992)].could not finish the book – same for the movie ^^
    Music & Silence [Rose Tremain (1999)]. Have not read.
    The Reader [Bernhard Schlink (1995)]. Read it- saw the movie too

    Like

    • “Hiroshima mon amour” Marguerite Duras livre et film
      “Michel Strogoff”, Jules Verne, livre et série
      “Rebecca” Daphne du Maurier,
      “Maria chapdelaine”, Louis Hémon,
      tout Léon Tolstoi: “Guerre et Paix” , “Anna Karénine” et Pearl Buck, Colleen McCullough, Heinz Günter Konsalik, Colleen McCullough,

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  7. a lot of the books on your list, I haven’t read, but I have seen the movies . my favorite books are Amanda Ashley’s Vampire series, Kerrelyn Sparks’s Love At Stake series, Lynsay Sands’s Argeneau Vampire series. My real favorite is by Paisley Swan Stewart. She wrote Chanson de l’Ange, a epic retelling of The Phantom Of The Opera-(book one) Orphan In Winter, (book two) The Bleeding Rose, and (book three) The Angel’s Song.

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    • I forgot to mention these books and authors, Life After Phantom: Opera Erotica by Samantha and Anne Rice’s (book one)The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, (book two) Beauty’s Punishment, (book three) Beauty’s Release, (book four) Beauty’s Kingdom.

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  8. I must admit I haven´t read most of the books but saw almost every movie based on these novels. I´d like to add North and South by E. Gaskell AND John Jakes, The Piano by Jane Campion and Les Jeux Sonts Faits by JP Sartre.

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    • 🙂 J’ajouterai “Le silence de la mer” de Vercors, livre et série, qui ont engendré le plus petit club de fan fiction.

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  9. Great list – this reinforces my recent desire to read more, & classics especially. Loved Wuthering Heights the movie w/ Olivier, I think Richard would be a fantastic Heathcliff! Have read AND seen Gone with the Wind, & love both Rhett & Scarlett. He’s a fantastic male love interest from the school of swagger! ❤

    I also really enjoyed watching the version of Emma with Romola Garai & Jonny Lee Miller, haven’t yet read the book. I LOVED the Sense & Sensibility miniseries with Hugh Grant- though I typically don’t really care for him as an actor, I ugly-cried at the ending of S&S. Ayiyi! Also enjoyed watching it.

    I also have to say on the contemporary end, I really loved the little couple in The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve never seen the movie though.

    Thanks again for the great list!

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  10. By my count I’ve read about 15 of these books, some of them a long time ago. I’m not a big fan of Ondaatje either, though I have tried and tried over the years (he used to be on various reading lists in high school English) but I did like the English Patient film when I saw it (probably not so much now. I think it appealed to my Younger Self!) . I confess to a bizarre attachment to Jane Eyre and I have also enjoyed many Bronte novels (I’ve read them all). As for Gone with the Wind, I can’t count how many times I have seen the film, and I’ve probably read it at least three times. Ashley and Melanie both made me want to scream, I always found them both incredibly annoying!

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