Top Ten Tuesday: Last year’s love affairs

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is a ‘Love Freebie’. I have decided to approach this topic by choosing ten of the most interesting, moving or memorable romances and love affairs from my last year of reading (February 2017 to February 2018).

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1. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier

This isn’t one of my favourite du Maurier novels but I still enjoyed this story of Dona St Columb who, having grown bored and disillusioned with her marriage, heads for Cornwall to spend some time away from her husband and his friends. Here she meets the pirate Jean-Benoit Aubéry and as she begins to fall in love with him, she struggles to reconcile her impressions of the polite, cultured Frenchman with the terrible tales she has heard from the neighbours.

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2. Shadow of the Moon by MM Kaye

I loved this book which I read as part of a readalong last summer. Set before and during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 it follows the story of Winter de Ballesteros, who travels across the sea to India to marry her fiance, the Commissioner of Lunjore. Captain Alex Randall is sent to escort her on the journey, but falls in love with her himself. Will he be able to prevent the marriage or is Winter too infatuated with the Commissioner to see clearly?

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3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I’m sure this one needs no introduction! This is one of my favourite books and I re-read it last February for the first time in years. As I said in my review, “the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy is hardly a conventional romance and although there is love, it is an obsessive and unhealthy love”. It may not be the most romantic of love stories, but I have always liked the darkness, the passion and the melodrama.

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4. Wintercombe and Herald of Joy by Pamela Belle

During the English Civil War, the home of Silence St Barbe, wife of a Parliamentarian officer, is garrisoned by Royalist soldiers. The romance between Silence and one of the enemy captains, which develops slowly over the course of two novels, was one of my favourites of last year. There’s more to these books than romance, though, and I would recommend them to anyone interested in this period of history.

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5. Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

The romance in this one forms a relatively small part of the novel. Published in 1937, it’s set in Oxford during the Elizabethan period and follows the story of fourteen-year-old Faithful Crocker who is welcomed into the household of Canon Leigh of Christ Church. We get to know all of the members of the family, but the romance between eldest daughter Joyeuce Leigh and the student Nicolas de Worde was one of my favourite storylines.

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6. Long Summer Day by RF Delderfield

The first volume in Delderfield’s A Horseman Riding By trilogy introduces us to Paul Craddock who uses his inheritance to buy an estate in rural Devon. There are two love interests for Paul: sensible, kind-hearted Claire Derwent, daughter of one of his tenant farmers, and the strong and independent suffragette, Grace Lovell. I won’t tell you which way the story plays out!

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7. The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian

Surgeon and spy Stephen Maturin and Diana Villiers met in the second book in O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series; this is book number six and their tempestuous relationship still hasn’t been resolved. Will they find any happiness in the next volume? I have the seventh book lined up to read soon, so I’ll be able to find out!

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8. Wolf Among Wolves by Hans Fallada

Set in Germany in 1923, gambler Wolfgang Pagel loses his money at roulette – and loses his fiancee, Petra Ledig, who refuses to see him again until he reforms. The two are separated for most of the novel, as Wolfgang tries to build a new life away from the temptations of the city, but their relationship and the question of whether they will ever be reunited was one of my favourite aspects of the book.

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9. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

A very one-sided love affair! Our hero Cyril, whom we follow from birth to old age, is still a teenager when he falls in love with his more popular, more sophisticated friend, Julian Woodbead. Will he ever have the courage to tell Julian how he feels – and if he does, will his feelings be returned?

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10. Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

This may seem an unusual one to include in a list of romances, especially when you consider how it ended, but surely the love affair between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was one of the most important in English history. After all, it was one of the factors leading to the king’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon, the break with Rome and the start of the Reformation. Alison Weir’s novel tells Anne’s story right from her early years through to her beheading.

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What about you? Have you read any books with interesting romances or love affairs recently? What are your all-time favourites?

21 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Last year’s love affairs

  1. Sandra says:

    Frenchman’s Creek, definitely a favourite of mine, but Wuthering Heights less so. I ran out of stamina for Shadow of the Moon sadly, and I haven’t been able to get into Elizabeth Goudge.

    Just looking over my list of books read in the past year where romance featured strongly, I certainly enjoyed A Long Summer Day. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson and currently, McEwan’s Atonement are also books I enjoyed where the romance is key. In top position for me though, from last year, would be Demelza: book 2 in the Poldark saga.

    • Helen says:

      I can understand running out of stamina with Shadow of the Moon – it’s such a long book. Elizabeth Goudge isn’t for everyone either. Her books are very sentimental and although I enjoy them, I think I would have loved them more when I was younger.

      I still haven’t read Demelza, despite loving the first book, Ross Poldark. I must get round to it soon!

  2. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review says:

    As I noticed in my most recent reread there is a healthy romance in Wuthering Heights: the book ends with young Cathy and Hareton forming a new, creative relationship that promises to end the terrible cycle of hatred and revenge. To me this is actually the whole point of what came before, and versions or readings that foreground Catherine and Heathcliff’s so-called romance (actually a pathological identification) are not true to Bronte’s vision, or to the reality of the human soul.

    One of my favorite all time romances is Beauty by Robin McKinley (a retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast). And I love some of Georgette Heyer’s witty historical romances: Friday’s Child, Cotillion, False Colours, The Talisman Ring. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones owes something to these, I think, as well as to Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing). Hard to stop, once I start making a list!

    • Helen says:

      That’s a good point, Lory. The relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff tends to get so much attention that people often forget the much more promising romance between Cathy and Hareton.

      I love Georgette Heyer’s historical romances too and still have plenty of unread ones on the TBR. I must read them soon!

  3. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, great take on the ‘Love Freebie’! I also love Wuthering Heights but I agree it is a very unhealthy romance! While I am looking forward to reading Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir. Over on my blog I have done my own TTT post on my recent reads with romance and love in. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I think I probably enjoyed Frenchman’s Creek more than Jamaica Inn too. I’ve read most of du Maurier’s novels over the last few years and I think they are all worth reading.

  4. cirtnecce says:

    What an awesome list Helen! I am not particularly fond of Du Maurier but I must say I liked Frenchman’s creek sooooo much more than her other works. I must pick up Wintercombe and Towers in Mist….they sound right up my alley!

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