Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters in The Fault in Our Stars
Hazel's and Augustus' lives intersect under the worst of circumstances. Hazel is dying and it is obvious that their time will be brief. At first, Hazel keeps Augustus at a distance, but he insists that loving each other will be worth it no matter how little time they have. Their story will make you laugh and cry, but more than anything it will encourage you to open yourself up to love and life, no matter what pain you might be facing.
"I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky in Anna Karenina
Not all literary couples have happy endings and Anna and Count Vronsky's story is a cautionary tale if nothing else. They are people completely consumed by passion. And while their lives seem complete while this passion burns bright, things begin to fall apart when the sparks die down and real life stares them in the face. A relationship founded completely on emotional passion often becomes consumed by it's own flames.
“They've got no idea what happiness is, they don't know that without this love there is no happiness or unhappiness for us--there is no life.”
Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars in Sense & Sensibility
Elinor and Edwards's relationship is rather maddening since what makes them such great people are the very things that threaten to keep them apart. Edward is an honorable man who fulfills his promises and his duties. This of course means that he will not break his engagement to Lucy Steele even though he loves Elinor. And Elinor is a woman who can hold herself together under very trying circumstances, but this control deceives Edward into thinking she does not care for him. It's kind of funny that their happiness is only brought about by the weak characters of other people.
“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be yours.”
Kitty and Walter Fane in The Painted Veil
Though many love stories end with a wedding, this one begins with it. Kitty Fane is a self-centered woman and is incapable of recognizing or appreciating the deep love that her husband has for her. When she breaks his trust (and his heart) their life together becomes one long and torturous road of revenge and heartache. But their isolated life in a small Chinese village forces them to see not only their own failings but also the good in each other. The story ends, if not with true reconciliation, at least with personal growth for Kitty.
“How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.”
Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man
It isn't often that you find a married couple in literature who are just plain fun. Nick and Nora Charles are just that. They each have a razor sharp wit that they love to use on each other. They are game for any adventure and will face any danger together. They trust each other implicitly. They can hold more liquor than seems humanly possible. All in all they are smart, fun, and glittering and embody the spirit of the Roaring 20s.
She grinned at me. "You got types?"
"Only you, darling - lanky brunettes with wicked jaws."
Shailene Woodley & Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars
Keira Knightley & Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Anna Karenina
Hattie Morahan & Dan Stevens in Sense & Sensibility
Naomi Watts & Edward Norton in The Painted Veil
Myrna Loy & William Powell in The Thin Man