The upcoming release of the movie Barbie has sparked a bunch of online buzz: Is the map with the nine-dash-line political? Will you watch Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day? Do Barbie’s inexplicably flat feet doom her to a life of dismal unhappiness? Here at the Orem Public Library, we aren’t sure of the answers to those questions, but we do know one thing: Barbie and Ken are one of the most iconic romantic couples.
Which begs the question: What other literary iconic romantic couples do we adore? Read on for a book list of the romantic couples readers continue to swoon over.
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen
While there’s some argument to be made that Anne and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion might be Austen’s most romantic couple, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are definitely Austen’s most iconic. When Lizzie responds with love-struck silence to Mr. Darcy’s second proposal!? In print or on film, who can resist?
Claire and Jamie in Outlander
By Diana Gabaldan
This long-running book series (now also a TV series) creates an irresistible love story between Claire, who comes from twentieth-century United States, and Jamie, who hails from eighteenth-century Scotland. Time travel between such disparate places and times creates many wrinkles for this indomitable couple—and many swoonworthy moments.
Henry and Clare in The Time Traveler’s Wife
By Audrey Niffenegger
Henry DeTamble has a genetic condition that forces him to time travel against his will, within the years of his own life. This means he meets his future wife, Clare, when she is a child and he is an adult. The tangled interactions of their relationship force readers to question what love actually is and if there is only one true one for each person.
Anna and Keane in Float Plan
By Trish Doller
Proving that not all romantic literary icons involve time travel and a character named “Claire/Clare,” Anna and Keane are a thoroughly realistic, contemporary couple. The way their romance blooms as a process of healing from their past individual traumas helps readers believe that love really does conquer all.
Venetia and Jasper, Lord Damerel in Venetia
By Georgette Heyer
Venetia is often labeled as Georgette Heyer’s best Regency romance. Their classic pastoral romance—wherein a scoundrel from an industrialized community escapes to the countryside—explores how first impressions are often misleading and how we go about becoming our authentic self within the presence of the people who value it.
Eleanor and Park in Eleanor & Park
By Rainbow Rowell
Ostensibly a YA novel, Eleanor & Park is a story that anyone who’s ever fallen in love with both a musical genre and a person will relate to. Eleanor and Park’s witty banter and sardonic awareness of the folly of first love (plus all that 80s music) create a memorable couple who readers connect with.
Arwen and Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
By J. R. R. Tolkien
Sure: In the books, the romance between the elf and the ranger is mostly told only in the appendices. But it is such a good story that the filmmakers integrated it into the plot. Aragorn feels guilty over the idea of Arwen giving up her immortality to be with him, but as a broken heart is one of the few ways that elves can die young, Arwen still chooses him. It’s impossible to imagine Middle Earth without this iconic literary couple.
Written by Amy S. (Outreach)