All the world loves a lover. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Love is an exquisite, complicated, and sometimes painful emotion. It is ephemeral and substantial, uplifting and devastating. As a writer of romantic stories, I am always fascinated by how other authors capture not only the feeling of being in love, but the moment when one falls in love: irrevocably, irresistibly, and sometimes irrationally.
So I thought it might be fun, from time to time, to share some of the really exceptional descriptions of love that I’ve been lucky enough to encounter during my years as an obsessive (and occasionally obsessed) reader.
I’m starting with Scandalous Risks, the fourth novel in Susan Howatch’s wonderful Starbridge Series. I adore this series, and I’ve read all the books numerous times. But Scandalous Risks is my favorite. Maybe that’s because it’s the only one of the six books which is written from the female POV, or maybe it’s because the heroine, Venetia, is written with such blunt tenderness, and is so very relatable: flawed, funny and sad. I feel like I could know her, or even be her.
Here is the publisher’s description of Scandalous Risks:
In the overheated 1960s in the English town of Starbridge, young Venetia Flaxton edges closer to a love affair with Neville Aysgarth, who is Dean of the Cathedral and old enough to be her father. His hidden emotional past and her moral conflict in the present lead them deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the human heart and soul.
And here is how Susan Howatch writes the moment that Venetia realizes she is in love with her “Mr. Dean”:
As he stretched out his hands to me again, I was suddenly transported to the very center of life. My world turned itself inside out. In a split second of blinding clarity, I saw him, at last, not as the family friend who was always so kind to me, but as the irresistible stranger, whose personality, by some great miracle, uniquely complimented my own. My loneliness was annihilated. My despair exploded into a euphoric hope.
Knowing I had to withdraw at once before my emotion could utterly overwhelm me, I blundered across the hall to the cloakroom, sagged in tears against the door, and mutely contemplated the vastness of my discovery.
Sigh. I’ve read those words a dozen times, and they still get me. Her description of Mr. Dean as the irresistible stranger, whose personality, by some great miracle, uniquely complimented my own, is the most beautiful way of saying that the two of them just “clicked.” And I can’t think of a better way to sum up that divine phenomenon of falling in love than to say, My loneliness was annihilated. My despair exploded into a euphoric hope. Sigh, again.
The writing in this book (as in all the books in the Starbridge series) is an absolute joy. Do you have any recommendations of books with beautiful writing? I’m always looking for my next great read!