Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 23- Favorite Romance Novel

You will never catch me reading a romance novel. I have, in my day, read a few 'bodice-rippers', but I find the whole genre distasteful. I can't even remember the name of the author of the book I read. I don't remember the book's title. I remember the cover graphics as some woman leaning against some man with the moon reflecting off the ocean. I think it was the ocean. Or maybe that was a flashlight and they were hiding from the police? I don't know. Girl meets bad boy. They date. He does something that honks her off. She can't stop thinking about him. They meet up. He tries to change but can't. She realizes that he's just misunderstood...gag. Sorry. If I want science fiction, I'll read Larry Niven.

So, what do I put for this category? Well, let's go backwards in time to the Victorian era. Not all 'romance' novels have to have Fabio on the cover. Some can feature an idyllic path through green grass next to a babbling brook. Two sisters and another woman probably could be considered the mothers of romance writing, but what they wrote falls under the "classics" section of the bookstore.

I choose Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. This is the only book Emily wrote. If you don't know the story; girl, whose father owns the manor house, hires boy who is beyond rough around the edges. The two fall in love but because of his status, they are prohibited from marrying. Through a series of misadventures and ill-timing, they marry others, but their spheres of life intersect repeatedly. The boy leaves and returns rich and with status. The former lovers meet. She dies later after giving birth to a daughter. He has a son by a wife he detests. He falls into madness, hearing her ghost throughout the house. When he dies, his son and her daughter realize they are in love and will be wed on New Year's Day to start a new and positive branch of the forlorn tree.

It's taught in school as a book about revenge and how obsession and revenge comes back to haunt you. It played on the Victorian sense of anyone could raise themselves up through hard work to become a noble but the price paid could be loneliness. Neither of the book's main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, get what they want and the decisions they make are not about being true to themselves.

It's a pot boiler, to be sure. You can sometimes see what's coming long before it gets there, but, with a sumptuous setting and well defined characters, the passion comes through on each page. Read the book and then go rent the movie starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. Although the second generation, Heathcliff and Catherine's children, are omitted from the movie, this is my favorite adaptation of the book. Olivier should have won the Oscar for his portrayal of Heathcliff. He was up against someone named Clark Gable for something called "Leaving with the Breeze" or something like that. (For the record, Robert Donat won for Goodbye Mr. Chips.)

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Beverage:  Dr Pepper

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