Monday, August 22, 2016

Love In Literature - Part 4

First I need to apologize. Last month I promised a post about Realm Makers and I never delivered. If anyone was looking forward to that, I sincerely apologize. I guess I underestimated how tired a red eye flight would make me, and how out of whack I was the whole conference with getting snippets of sleep here and there. Me and lack of sleep don’t go too well together. It was either: sleep, or write my blog. You can figure out what I chose.

I was planning on putting one together when I got back home, and as soon as I was home I was laid up in bed for a few days, sicker than I’ve been in a while. They call it the Con Crud, and I got it hard. I’m STILL battling it three weeks later. No fun. 

By the time I was feeling even remotely better we had to go on a trip to Kansas, and I had a deadline with something else going on. When I actually got the urge to write my blog about RM, everyone else had already written theirs, and I felt it would be someone irrelevant and anti-climactic at that point. So, I just…didn’t. Oh well.


Welcome to the fourth and final week of our Love in Literature series.

Who are my favorite literary couples, you ask?

I’ll tell you in a minute, but first, stop on over to Jeb, Robin and Lucy's posts about Love in Literature. I wrap things up this final week of our Love Month with my own favorites.

I’d love to say its Anne and Gil from Anne of Green Gables. But alas, I cannot. Why? Because Anne took FAR too long to figure out she was in love with Gilbert. It was nothing but frustrating to say the least. And while Anne-girl is still one of my all-time favorite literary characters, (and so is Gilbert) their romance took too long for me to enjoy. Gil was obviously smitten with her from the start, but stubborn Anne, well, she just took too dang long to figure out her own feelings. I would have fallen for Gilbert right away.

I could say Jo and Laurie from Little Women (no, I am not copying Jeb here, we just happened to have THE EXACT SAME CHILDHOOD apparently-when it comes to everything we’ve read) but stupid Jo DIDN’T PICK LAURIE. 

How could you Jo?!?!?! HOW???!!!! YOU KILL ME WITH YOUR TREACHERY!!!! 

Laurie was amazing!!! Okay, you get my point. I’ll stop now. But seriously, Jo, that was low. Leading him on like that. Okay, you can slap me now.

My top couple would be Tris and Four from Divergent. I fell in love with them as a couple immediately. (I think it’s called shipping now). I ship TrisFour. Being a YA author I’ve had to figure out all the new ‘in’ lingo the teens are using now. I still sound lame using it though. Oh well, I try.

Tris and Four have this magnetism that just instantly draws readers in. Their chemistry is phenomenal. I love how they connect right away, and make their relationship grow as time goes on.

I don't care much for books where the two love interests hate each other at first and then grow to love each other later. It’s not my thing and I don’t understand it one bit. To me, that’s not real life. If I met someone I hated I wouldn’t stick around long enough to find out if it would eventually turn into love. But as authors, it's one good way to add some major tension into your story. And apparently it is a favorite trope of romance writers. I have nothing against authors using it. And some manage to do it well.

I do however, understand instalove. To me, personally, that is much more realistic. And I know that it drives other people crazy. There are only have a few hundred pages to fill up my love quota. Don’t use it all up on the main characters hating each other.

I love the instalove that Divergent’s Tris and Four provide. Instant *sighs* and heart-stopping kisses. Oh, the kisses. So many kisses. Almost too many. I love how when one was weak the other would be strong, and vise-versa. That’s the way every relationship should be.

My other favorite couple is Hazel and Gus from The Fault in Our Stars. And admittedly, this was one book that I threw across the room in anger, but I still can’t get over how amazing these two are together. Can we say, INSTANT BOND and CHEMISTRY? They were meant for each other. Perfect for one another in every way. 

While there were plenty of things that drove me nuts in the book TFIOS, Hazel and Gus blew me out of the water. Two teens battling cancer together. Being each other’s listening ear and solid rock. Their laughter and sense of humor despite a dire situation. They kept things positive, as much as possible. They weren’t afraid to go against the norm and do life differently. They lived when they could, and they loved with all their strength, even when that strength was ultimately failing. I still will never be able to think of Hazel and Gus without my eyes tearing up.

So those are my favorite literary couples, who are yours? Let us know in the comments below. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love in Literature - Part 3

By Lucy

“I love stories about love. Love at first sight. Love that sneaks up quietly after years of friendship. Love that causes the heart to beat and the breath to draw short. Love that pulses, quivers, gushes, consumes, and overwhelms.” 
~ Robin Scobee

I won't lie. I love romances! I love the chemistry between the hero and heroine, the journey they travel to reach their happily ever after. (And I prefer reading romances with happily ever afters.)  The challenges they face and the struggles they overcome. And if you haven't already, read which couples made Jeb's and Robin's lists. 

If you know me, my favorite couple will not suprise you.

Michael Hosea and Angel from Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love.

They start out with the classic plot of Enemy turned Lover. 
Michael Hosea is determined to obey the Lord, which puts him in the uncomfortable position of clashing with Angel's internal goal.
They're off to a rocky start as husband and wife. And they struggle, clashing around every corner. 

Angel insists on leaving, striking out on her own. She's determined never to "belong" to anyone ever again in her life. She doesn't know how much she needs love, and since she hasn't been loved in so long, she's not sure how to respond to Michael's kindness. She makes one terrible mistake after another. 
Michael's committed to love her, even though she's nothing he expected in a wife. His obedience to a God she doesn't believe exists, coupled with his determination, drives her crazy. But Michael's love for the Lord enables him to follow His instructions. 
Who can resist a hero who loves his heroine but loves God most?

The swooning moment for me happens when Angel realizes how desperately she needed the Lord's redemption, and when she finally submits to it. We find Michael, the gallant, steadfast and committed hero, there to welcome her back after she was tested in the fire.

Reading Redeeming Love also enhanced my understanding of the book of Hosea, on which Francine Rivers based her novel. 
In the biblical story, God instructed the prophet Hosea to marry a local prostitute, Gomer. The Lord uses Gomer to teach Hosea about Isreal's unfaithfulness and the Lord's steadfast love and faithfulness to Isreal, even after Isreal's unfaithfulness.

Until next time,
Be blessed
~ Lucy

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Love in Literature - Part Two

By Robin

I love stories about love. Love at first sight. Love that sneaks up quietly after years of friendship. Love that causes the heart to beat and the breath to draw short. Love that pulses, quivers, gushes, consumes, and overwhelms. 

I love those stories because they stimulate us, awaken us, and enrapture us. It is the tension that keeps us reading until the end; the sigh of satisfaction when we close the book.

These kinds of love stories will never grow old, will they?

Though I will always retain a sort of affection for happy endings, I find the older I get, and the more I learn about myself, my God, and my world, the more complex I need my love stories to be. The less satisfied I tend to be by wedding bells and the implied promise of Happily Ever After. 

That's why I've begun to appreciate and love a different type of love story over the years. These stories tell of love that rips, shreds, and leaves scars one must overcome to be whole again. Or love that is old, lacks romance, and goes on plodding long after the pulse slows and the excitement wanes. It's love that must be fought for, sometimes lost and grieved over, and other times it goes unrequited. There is something heartrendingly lovely and honest about a love story like that.

When my turn came to write the second part of "Love in Literature" (you can read Part One by Jebraun here), my mind consistently went to two surprising works of literature. Both tell love stories that are at times sad and painful, and both end in ambiguity.

Astrophil and Stella

Written over 450 years ago by a man who's life was tragic in its own right, Sir Philip Sydney, this sonnet sequence begins with one of my favorite lines of poetry. After falling helplessly, miserably in love, Astrophil pens: "'Fool,' said my Muse to me, 'look in thy heart and write.'"

He had considered himself above the throes and fancies of love, but finds himself undone by the lovely Stella. "Mine eyes (shall I say cursed or blessed) beheld Stella; now she is named, need more be said?"

But she won't return his favors--out of virtue, or ungratefulness--he cannot tell. But he feels scorned and disgraced. What's worse, she sees his woe but doesn't pity him. When he finally works up the nerve to tell her how he feels, she stops his mouth with a kiss.

The joy is short-lived however. He is forced to depart, and now it's Stella who mourns the bitterness of love. After some time apart, they find that they've changed. Stella admits to Astrophil,  
"'But the wrongs love bears will make 
Love at length leave undertaking."

Their love story, as near as I can tell, ends disappointingly for readers who rooted for them to be together in the end. There is no saccharine ending tied up with a bow. It's sad and frustrating. And yet there is still comfort for those of us who have discovered, in the reality of our own lives, the often confusing, unsatisfying, calamitous truth of love. 

And who of us hasn't? We live in a fallen world. We ourselves are fallen, and we love fallen people. We wound and we lash out to wound others in our pain. 

Sometimes we accept the pain, swallow the disappointment, and choose to love love anyway. That is the story of my second favorite literary love story. It's a tale thousands of years old. It's meaning has been debated for as many years. Is it an allegory? A literal love story between two actual people? Maybe it's both.We don't know who wrote it, when it was written, or who it was actually about. But without a doubt, it's a love story.

Song of Solomon

She loves him. He loves her. Their desire for one another is unmistakable. They enjoy the sight of one another, admire one another, and look forward with great anticipation to their union, which seems to come in the second chapter.
"Behold, he comes...and says to me:
'Arise, my love, my beautiful one, 
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come."

The sexual imagery continues to the end of the chapter, according to some commentators, with ripe figs, blossoming vines, clefts, crannies, and grazing among the lilies.

But something is amiss in chapter three:
"On my bed by night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not."

She goes out in the city looking for him, asking if others have seen him. She finds him, clings to him, and will not let him go. Then she begs the daughters of Jerusalem not to "stir up or awaken love until it pleases." (3:5)

Next comes the wedding, which seems a happy affair despite the events that have just transpired. They come together in the garden (not a coincidental location). She sleeps, but when she awakens, again, he is gone. Again she goes into the city looking for him, and gives the daughters of Jerusalem this message: "If you find my tell him I am sick with love." (5:8)

Their response seems unhelpful at best. "What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women?" (5:9)

What's a girl to do when she's disappointed by love, and her friends are no help?

Her response is both sad and wonderful, I think. She praises him. It's as if she's saying, "He's my husband, for better or worse, and right now, even though it's hard, I choose love." It's sacrificial, mature, heart-breaking, and the story of most every marriage that has gone the distance in our broken, often disappointing world.

In the end, she longs for her husband as a wife should, despite her broken heart.
"Love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave...
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it."

Is it a happy ending?'s complicated, as love so often is. And that's why I love it.

What are your favorite literary love stories? Please share in the comments and join the conversation.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Love in Literature — Part One

by Jebraun Clifford

Romeo & Juliet. Anne & Gilbert. Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester

Literature is full of memorable couples and their successful (or not-so-successful) pursuit of one another. 
Who hasn’t sighed with satisfaction when Almanzo Wilder finally slipped a ring over Laura Ingalls’s finger after years of Sunday drives—not to mention that dastardly Nellie Olson trying to steal Almanzo for herself in These Happy Golden Years
Or what about Beatrice and Benedick from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing? While much witty banter flew back and forth—including more than one choice insult—our pair finally discovered their mutual attraction and decided life together would be more stimulating than life apart.
The path of true love doesn't always flow so straight, however. As I mentioned in a previous post, I remember being bitterly disappointed that Jo didn't marry Laurie in Little Women. And in a more modern story, I may never forgive Suzanne Collins for setting up the narrative to make Katniss end up with Peeta instead of Gale. 
I mean...look at how he kisses her!!!


Romance is a key component in many stories. Where would Robin Hood be without his Maid Marion? Jamie without his Claire? Wesley without his Buttercup? Let's face it: part of the reason we read a story is to find out who gets the girl! I'm no exception. I'm a sucker for a good love story, and there are several characters whom I simply adore. 

My favorite couples in literature have their struggles. Misunderstandings, trials, and difficulties plagued their relationships which only serve to make their stories more interesting. 

First up is Shasta and Aravis from The Horse and His Boy. Yes, yes, I get that the love story is completely secondary to C.S. Lewis's main adventure of escaping to Narnia—only a line or two is mentioned at the very end of the book when they marry. But I like the way their mutual admiration for one another grows. At first, sparks fly. And not in a lovey-dovey kind of way. They fight. A lot. Much of it has to do with their differences. While Shasta thinks he's only an insignificant person, Aravis is high born, a Tarkheena in the very best of Tashban society. This discrepancy in their social standing causes a lot of conflict. What I really enjoyed reading was how they learn to capitalize on one another's strengths, and cover one another's weaknesses. Now that's teamwork!

Another favorite would have to be Kate Sutton and Christopher Heron from Elizabeth Marie Pope's YA historical fiction The Perilous Gard. No class struggle here. While both are noble-born, they instead have character traits that annoy one another to no end. He finds her stubborn. She finds him uncommunicative. He tries to protect her from their mutual and terrifying enemy. She insists on waltzing into danger. He's quick to understand the trouble they're in, but it's her muddling determination that finally rescues them both. The high point of their subtle yet satisfying romance was when Kate finally realizes that, despite his complaints and criticisms, Christopher truly loves her and sees her as his equal and ideal match.

Finally, who can begin a list of famous literary couples and not include Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy? No one...that's who.


Yes, Elizabeth & Darcy are at the absolute top of my list for amazing couples whose hate/love/love?/LOVE relationship kept me turning the pages in both excitement and despair. Like Meg Ryan's character, Kathleen, in You've Got Mail, every time I read this book I think:



Both of them make assumptions about the other's character. Both of them allow pride to keep them apart. Both of them think they have the moral high ground. It takes a tragedy for them to finally see each other with the eyes of true love. 

There you have it. And as I was compiling my list, I realized that all of them had one thing in common: their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses were completely opposite to one another. But love bloomed when they embraced their differences. That, I believe, is the key to any long-standing relationship. 

Be blessed,

This month, each of us here at Quills & Inkblotts will detail the who's and why's of our favorite literary couples. We hope you'll add your pick in the comment section!