Whether you are in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day can either be a day of fun or a day for broken hearts.  Either way, there are so many incredible stories that can make the day brighter.  This week we will be recommending ten classic works of literature that you can turn to for an extra dash of romance this season.  Whether you read them or seek out of a film adaptation, these classic stories are definitely worth your time.

  1. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare – Yes Romeo and Juliet is a wonderful play, and definitely worth a read if you haven’t done so already, but if you want something more lighthearted, Much Ado About Nothing could be for you.  This is a comedy following two couple, one falls in love very quickly (though roadblocks do arise).  The other pair despises each other with a passion, but can their friends change that?  This is a humorous and short play that will make you laugh while feeding your romantic daydreams.
  2. Persuasion by Jane Austen – Another well-know author, most people would likely think of Pride and Prejudice when they think about Jane Austen.  Again, Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful read that’s definitely worth your time.  However, Persuasion is just as romantic and is a bit shorter.  This story follows Anne Eliot as she approaches “spinsterhood” (at least for the time).  Several years earlier she fell in love with a young man, far below her social station.  Before they could be married, unfortunately, her loved ones convinced her to decline his proposal due to his class.  Now, as she enters the second half of her twenties, this young man returns with his fortune made.  Will the two of them come together at last, or is it too late?
  3. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – Though many of Hardy’s novels tend to be melancholic tragedies, Far from the Madding Crowd is a much more positive (though still dramatic) novel following a young woman who inherits her uncle’s farm and takes on the world of business (a world completely populated by men at the time).  As she enters this perilous social position, she finds herself pursued by three different men: the gentle shepherd Gabriel Oak, the older and wealthy Mr. Boldwood, and the sensual and flirtatious Sargent Troy.  A novel full of proto-feminist ideals, melodrama, obsession, and hope, you will not regret picking it up.
  4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – No list of classic romantic novels is complete without Jane Eyre.  If your tone is more gothic and mysterious, this could be a great read for you.  This story follows young Jane Eyre as she grows up suffering abuse and loss to eventually find herself being hired as a governess for the ward of the mysterious Mr. Rochester.  As Jane falls in love with her enigmatic and rough employer, she begins to perceive strange and unnatural occurrences within the house.  Could it be a ghost, or something more sinister?  This is such a fun read for lovers of gothic romance. [A quick note: Some may wonder why Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is not on this list.  Though it is an incredible story, and one I personally prefer to Jane Eyre, I as the writer of this list view it as more of a revenge tale than a romance.  Definitely a strong recommendation, but not for our purposes today.]
  5. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë – For those looking for a quieter, more mild romance, Agnes Grey could be what you are looking for.  This is a sweet story primarily following Agnes as she deals with the struggles of being a governess to difficult children.  Towards the second half of the novel, a young man enters Agnes’ path and their romance, though simple and quiet, will make it impossible for you not to smile.
  6. Adam Bede by George Eliot – This is not a light romantic read, but romance is a critical part of the plot.  Another one for those who enjoy a darker more melancholy classic, Eliot’s first full length novel follows Adam Bede, a well-respected, lower-class man who falls in love with the flirtatious Hetty Sorrel.  However, she loves the wealthy Arthur Donnithorne.  Meanwhile, a young women, Dinah Morris, begins to preach Methodism to the community, drawing the eye of Adam’s brother, Seth.  Is it possible for all of these people to find happiness, or will some be left behind?  This is a fascinating read with a strong plot and fascinating character dynamics that will leave you thinking about it for months afterward.
  7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – For lovers of Jane Austen, Gaskell provides a story that’s similar to Pride and Prejudice with an extra dash of social criticism.  This story follows Margaret Hale as her father quits his career and moves their family from the south of England to a factory town in the north.  There she meets several factory workers, as well as a factory owner by the name of Mr. Thornton.  Though their opinions seem to completely contrast each other at first, perhaps they have more in common than they realize.  A great read for those who enjoy romance with a little extra commentary on social issues.
  8. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – For those looking for more adventure with their romance, this novel is for you.  This story follows Marguerite St. Just as she experiences the French Revolution with her English dunce of a husband, Sir Percy Blakeney.  Though their marriage began well, something has gone wrong which Marguerite cannot understand.  Meanwhile, an Englishman called the Scarlet Pimpernel is saving French aristocratic families from the guillotine.  Who is this man and can Marguerite’s marriage possibly be saved from the guillotine as well?
  9. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster – Another sweet romance, though this one set in the early 20th century, this novel follows Lucy Honeychurch as she travels to Italy with a family friend where she meets George Emerson, a man who is struggling to see the value in life.  When he meets Lucy, however, he begins to view her as a beacon of hope and pursues her.  But Lucy is already intended for someone else.  And what does Lucy want?  A Room with a View is a wonderful exploration of love and life through the eyes of a woman who is just now coming to understand who she is and what her life-goals truly are.
  10. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier – Our final recommendation is for lovers of Pirates of the Carribean. An adventurous tale following the scandalous Dona as she leaves London with her children to escape unpleasant rumors circulating about her there.  While her husband remains in the city for business, Dona stays at their seaside home, searching for identity and meaning in life.  Meanwhile, rumors abound in her community of a French pirate who has been ransacking wealthy landholder’s up and down the coast.  Full of adventure and romance, Frenchman’s Creek is a short yet fun tale that will have you on the edge of your seat.