Mumsnet Book of the Month February 09

A little passion wouldn't go amiss in these dark, icy days. In a recent poll of the greatest love stories of all time, Wuthering Heights took the top position, which, as they said at the time, only proves that Britain's grimmest landscape and worst weather are no barrier to ardour! So do your worst, February: we have six star-crossed love stories to keep the cold at bay. Vote now for your February Book of the Month and fan those flames of desire...


The Enchanted April book coverElizabeth Von Arnim: The Enchanted April
If ever there was a pick-me-up for depressing winter months, this is it. A gentle, funny, rejuvenating story of four women in post-war England who leave their damp and rainy environs (and, in the case of two of the women, their husbands) to go on a holiday to the Italian Riviera. Lulled by the Mediterranean spirit, they gradually shed their skins and discover a harmony each of them has longed for but has never known. It is about love restored and love discovered and falling in love with life as well as yourself. Dreamy and escapist.

 

Death in Venice book coverThomas Mann: Death in Venice
Dark and obsessive, this is a love that consumes and maddens. Gustave von Aschenbach is a successful but ageing writer who travels to Venice for a holiday. In his hotel, he notices an exceptionally beautiful young boy, Tadzio. Soon his days begin to revolve around seeing this boy, and he descends into a confused, degraded dream-like state. Mann was much influenced by Freud and Nietzsche, and the book is full of classical allusions and the link between dreams and death. Fascinating, powerful and extremely arresting.


Hunchback of Notre Dame book coverVictor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
As one Amazon reviewer puts it, this book "looks thick and the words are all really tiny". But don’t let that put you off! The story isn’t really about Quasimodo but about Dom Frollo, an archdeacon who falls in love with the gypsy Esmerelda and thinks she can redeem his lost and tortured soul. Quasimodo, brought in to keep Esmerelda captive, shows that he has more compassion and honour than any of the bigots that surround him. The inspiration for countless beauty and the beast spinoffs, this is gothic tragedy on a grand scale and, above all, a love letter to Paris.

Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
Anna Karena book coverOne of the most famous love triangles in fiction, and universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest literary masterpieces. Anna Karenina, her husband Karenin, and her lover Vronsky battle out the big human emotions. Will Anna follow her heart or settle for marital boredom? Can she live an honest life amongst the corruption and hostility of Russian society? Beautifully lyrical and unflinchingly honest about the reality of adultery, this is a timeless story tackling epic ideas of what it means to truly live and truly love.


Room With a View book coverE M Forster: A Room with a View
Love! Truth! Beauty! Visiting Italy with her prim and proper cousin Charlotte as a chaperone, Lucy Honeychurch meets the unconventional, lower-class Mr Emerson and his son, George. Upon her return to England, she becomes engaged to the supercilious Cecil Vyse, but finds herself increasingly torn between the expectations of the world in which she moves and the passionate yearnings of her heart. As Forster writes: "You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it but you can never pull it out of you."


Love Story book coverErich Segal: Love Story
An emotional rollercoaster about two ill-matched Harvard students who fall in love and then lose each other, this is guaranteed to make you well up – in an enjoyably trashy and cathartic way. Originally a screenplay, Paramount asked Segal to write a novel to help pre-publicise the film's release (on Valentine’s Day). Tightly written and fast moving, it pulls those heartstrings with expert skill.


Vote for the book you'd most like to be February's Book Club choice. The poll closes at midnight on Tuesday 20 January. 

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