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The Greatest Love Stories in Literature, inspired by IF YOU GO AWAY

Compiling a list of my most romantic books brought home to me something I’ve long since known but tend to forget from time to time – books are incredibly powerful! Whilst my reaction to romantic movies and songs tends to be largely to do with my own romantic status (they offer valuable succour, consolation or inspiration), and they often give me a legitimate channel to deal with my own emotions (no one is alone when they watch Casablanca), I believe books go a step further.

I am transported by novels. I’m swept up by and immersed in the lives of the heroes and heroines; it doesn’t matter whether I’m in love or heartbroken, if I am reading I care more about poor fated Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire, or  Cecilia and Robbie, than I care about my own status. I utterly forget myself and if the book is properly brilliant, I become someone quite different. For a short and poignant time I live their lives; it’s deep and very personal. I fall in love with Heathcliff every time, even though I know that nothing good will ever come of a psychologically damaged, morbidly jealous, foundling but then, deep down, which girl can resist “a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man” willing to disinter her grave? Passionate, resilient and morally admirable, Jane Eyre is a role model, as is confident, witty but fallible Elizabeth Bennet. I’m consumed with grief anew when Anna ends up on the tracks or Ennis finds his shirt tucked inside of Jack’s. Sigh.

  1. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
  2. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  6. Doctor Zhivago  by Boris Pasternak
  7. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fritzgerald
  9. Invitation To The Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
  10. P.S. I Love You Cecilia Ahern

IF YOU GO AWAY is out now in paperback and is Our Choice this month. Read a free extract here .

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