My sister is getting married today and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of preparation for the big day. So, to say that I've had marriage on my mind is an understatement. As such, I wanted to share a few of my favorite fictional couples. Three of these are definitely held up as romantic ideals while the other one is flawed and, if we're being technical, is not actually an official couple. But, hey, it's my list and I can do what I want.
- Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
What list of favorite fictional couples could be complete without the iconic Lizzie and Darcy? Theirs is a relationship that has drawn in readers for more than 200 years. It's staying power, I think, has to do with the fact that Lizzie is independent, witty, and utterly charming, while Darcy is practically shorthand for the ideal man, noble and loyal. Both have their faults, but that is part of the charm. I've read Pride and Prejudice many times and have seen just about every adaptation of it ever made: from the masterful 2005 adaptation by Joe Wright, to the Hollywood-ified 1940 version starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, and even the looser adaptations like the Bollywood-inspired Bride and Prejudice. Their relationship has a timeless quality to it that allows it to be dropped into any time period or any setting and still work.
- Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley - Emma by Jane Austen
While Lizzie and Darcy are the more iconic Austen couple, Emma and Knightley are my favorite. If you've ever seen Clueless, you know the dynamic of the Emma/Knightley relationship, which is what Cher and Josh are based on. Knightley is the grounding influence for Emma, who can easily get carried away with her schemes. They balance each other out and make each other better. Plus, all of the misunderstandings and squabbles are amusing and one of the many classic tropes of romantic comedies.
- Margaret Hale and John Thornton - North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
If you like the dynamics of Lizzie and Darcy, then this story will feel familiar. Margaret and John have the same slightly antagonistic enemies-to-lovers relationship as Lizzie and Darcy, but with an even stronger reason for their contention. I always describe North and South as Pride and Prejudice with a social justice agenda. The relationship between the gentle Southern minister's daughter and the stern Northern mill owner is one that is overlaid on top of the labor movements of 19th century Britain. The drama between Margaret and John is turned up to 11, but it still feels genuine.
- Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacot - The Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith
Okay, okay. So, these two aren't technically a couple. Cormoran Strike, surly PI and military veteran, and Robin Ellacot, plucky assistant-turned-investigator are the ultimate in the friends-to-lovers trope. They work well together and Strike comes to see Robin as a partner instead of just an assistant. This definitely appears to be a relationship where there is more feeling on one side than the other (Strike being more romantically interested in Robin than the reverse), but their chemistry is strong. I just really want them to get together, but I am also enjoying the slow burn.
So, what are some of your favorite fictional couples? As you might have noticed, most of my favorites are from books that are quite old. If you have suggestions for contemporary books, share them below!