I have never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day and have never celebrated it. But while I feel a little allergic to the profusion of hearts all over the place, I do believe that love is something that should be celebrated. In my opinion this is not done by having candlelit dinner with your beloved one, and exchanging silly cards or presents, but by remembering the power of love to change our lives. I like the Finnish name for Valentine’s Day, Ystävänpäivä, which translates as Friend’s Day, because it shows that there are other kinds of love than romantic love.
Despite my reservations I decided to pick three love stories from my bookshelf to share with you:
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie. If I would have to choose a novel where the love feels the most real to me it is Kartography. I read it several years ago, but I remember how strongly I felt the connection between the two main characters Raheen and Karim. The love portrayed is one that grows from knowing each other very well, rather the love at first sight. It is a beautifully written story about love and friendship, with the tumultuous politics of Karachi in the background. I very highly recommend it.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is love story with an intriguing premise. When Henry first meets Clare, he does not know her, but she knows him, since the future Henry has visited her in her past. The first known sufferer of Chrono-Displacement Disorder, Henry is an involuntary time traveler, occasionally being displaced to another time, without prior warning. Henry’s condition sets the scene for an unique and complicated romance. Prepare to have your heart broken by this beautiful love story with a twist.
Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams. This is a very poetic book that is totally different from Kartography. What loved about Kartography, the realistic portrayal of love, is completely missing here. Instead the book tells the story of Nicholas and Isabel who are destined to be together, but only meet towards the end of the book. I’m not a believer in destiny, anymore than I believe in love at first sight, so this is normally not really my kind of book. But it has an air of magic about it and I truly enjoyed the atmosphere and exquisite language.