Books about Love

ENDURING BONDS: Five books about love

1. “Crossing to Safety,” by Wallace Stegner. Although this is primarily a story of two couples’ friendship, it resonates with the devotion between Larry and Sally Morgan, who seem to be a stand-in for the late, great Stegner, who headed Stanford’s creative writing program. Their marriage has survived the slings and arrows, including Sally’s polio, to become a tribute to all relationships that endure.

2. “Atonement,” by Ian McEwan. Sometimes it’s not “until death do we part,” but something far more complicated. In this celebrated novel (and movie), McEwan captures class differences, sexual attraction and a commitment between two lovers that defies family, convention and the flow of history. Get out your hankie!

3. “Sacred Hearts,” by Sarah Dunant. Romantic love isn’t the first thing you think about with a book about nuns. But this evocative novel about a 16th-century convent where Italian nobles parked unruly or unwanted daughters builds its tension around what will happen to the relationship between one unwilling recruit and the music teacher she was forbidden to love. 

4. “Loving Frank,” by Nancy Horan. This book club favorite is fiction, but it’s built on the illicit relationship between the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and a young wife and mother who gives up everything for their relationship. Wright comes off as an egomaniac – no surprise – but, in Horan’s view at least, their attraction was mutual, enduring and almost worth the sacrifice.

5. “We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals,” by Gillian Gill. The most famous love duet among royalty gets a contemporary makeover in this biography, which shows how an arranged marriage blossomed into devotion, yes, but also something far more complicated. Victoria was determined to maintain her prerogatives as queen, while Albert expected to fulfill the traditional role of master in his wife’s house. By showing them engaged in a power struggle that played counterpoint to their commitment, Gill shows what a modern couple they really were.
 

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