Stories about love follow the Tolstoy Rule which pretty much says that all happy love stories are alike but each unhappy love story is unhappy in its own way. To acknowledge the unlimited complexities of relationships, here are 5 not so conventional stories about love chosen by WOMAN in partnership with Penguin Random House.
American Marriage – Tayari Jones
If marriage is a house what happens when the roof falls in? Especially when it’s only just been built. This novel follows the lives of newly weds who are forced to unite against a system before their own union has the foundations needed for such a shake up. In an age of herd behaviour this one’s a vote for unity in the face of discrimination. Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction. Comes with an emotional warning sign.
The Island of Missing Trees – Elif Shafak
The Sunday TImes bestselling novel about two star-crossed lovers in war-torn Cyprus Initially the book is set in Cyprus at a Taverna in 1974, which has a fig tree running through the middle. This tree witnesses everything: the unapproved relationship, the war that breaks out, and then Cyprus falling to the ground. Okay we do admit a talking tree is a hard swallow but then if you believe in love you can believe in anything. Highly recommended.
The Crane Wife – CJ Hauser
“Think of this book as rehab for road weary romantics” wrote a critic of The Crane Wife. What started out as a small memoir essay that went viral in 2019 has ended up as a series of astonishing vignettes about the nature of love. More than 50 years ago the writer Anais Ninn wrote “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source, it dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illnesses and wounds, it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings, but never a natural death. Every lover should be brought to trial as the murderer of his own love.” This then is that trial; an inquisition on the nature of love written in beautiful exquisite prose.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin
As one of the narrators says in this artful but playful story, “Lovers are common… True collaborators in this life are rare.” When a game boy meets a game girl it’s game on. Sure the lines between reality and play are blurred but that’s what happens in the metaverse.Two Intimate friends from childhood achieve overnight success when a game they design becomes a blockbuster sensation.This is a story that steps lightly off the page and into a world of gaming that is so often ignored in literature. An immersive and absorbing read illustrating what we long for is no different in the virtual world as it is in the real. But don’t just take our word for it – WINNER OF THE GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD • NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • One of the Best Books of the Year: The New York Times, TIME, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Oprah Daily, Slate, Self.com, Bookpage, Kirkus, SheReads, GoodReads, Goop, and The What List
Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton
This is a heartfelt memoir about the ups and downs of relationships taken from Alderton’s own personal experiences. It’s a celebration of female friendship, self care and the importance of putting yourself first in relationships (and if your Valentine’s Day is more Galentines than this one’s for you). The writing is engaging and touching, making this an inspiring read for anyone who has experienced the complexities of love. Whether you’re looking for a comforting escape or seeking advice on your own love journey..This book is a ‘must read’. We love you Dolly.
Want another unconventional love story? Check out this related article: New Zealand Author Joanna Drayton’s Memoir: The Queens Wife.