what has the aging process done to my literary loves?

Monday, February 14, 2011 |
I wander the blog universe less than I used to, but every now and then I still come across an idea that I think is genius. And in this case, one that I want to do on my own blog. Mette Ivie Harrison, author of The Princess and the Hound and The Princess and the Bear (love! both of those), wrote a blog post in which she compared her favorite literary couples from when she was 16 years old and her favorites now.

Her choices made me consider how my own preferences have changed over the past eleven years. Which books did I love at age sixteen? Which of those had romantic couples (for I was passionate about many, but I’ve realized that a lot of them didn’t have a speck of romance)? And which books do I currently treasure, at age twenty-seven, for the relationships in their pages?

Behold, my lists!

Favorite literary couples at age 16 (circa 2000):

Vicinius and Ligia from Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Kit and Nat from The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Elnora and Philip from A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

Jane and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mara and Sheftu from Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Rose and Mac from Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

I don’t know what that list tells you, but I do know what it tells me. None of the authors are alive. I was into classic lit at age sixteen, and devotedly worked my way through the recommended reading list. It also reminds me that I love(d) historical fiction with a passion. No real surprise that I went on to study history in graduate school, eh? And it also tells me that I was a normal teenager – most of the couples in these stories are young, experiencing first love, and a lot of it is idealized (though not all). One final thing: I wasn’t into my Jane Austen phase yet.

Favorite literary couples now (from books I currently read at least once a year):

Anne and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion by Jane Austen

Harry and Corlath from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Eleanor and Reggie from Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey

Sabriel and Touchstone from Sabriel by Garth Nix

Rilla and Kenneth from Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

My current favorites are a different crop, certainly. For one thing, I’ve gone from historical fiction almost straight into fantasy. Some of the books are decidedly darker in tone. Most of the authors on this list are still alive. But I did notice continuity – I still favor books about strong female characters doing things. I also (apparently) like some hardship thrown in with my love story. It must add to the flavor? Come to think of it, bittersweet chocolate IS the most delicious.

What were your favorite literary couples at 16 and now?

[graphic from art at holli's etsy shop]


Alyce said...

Rilla and Kenneth are one of my all time favorite couples! (And that goes for when I was 16 and now.)

Kristen M. said...

I know what you mean. I used to adore Rhett and Scarlett and now I find them rather less than romantic! Now I look for a pair that are a bit more stable and emotionally healthy -- a couple that can be in a dramatic situation without being drama queens/kings. :)

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

Oh man, this is such an interesting post! I'm only 17 right now but I would love to look back in 10 years to see what i was like :p so right now im pretty much obsessed with YA... hmm i wonder when im older will i be into Classics or Adult fic? :o anyways, love your post, and i got a few book recommendations too =)

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