Top Romantic Vintage Reads

February 19, 2014

So passes another Valentine’s Day, and the red roses, balloons and teddies aren’t quite cleared from the shops yet, and we here at Vintage Tea Roses wondered what better time to highlight some of our favourite romantic reads

Cutting it down to just these five was near impossible, and I foresee revisiting this post many times, and wondering “What was I thinking? Pride and Prejudice over Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder?!”

But that, dear readers, is for you to tell me, if you feel I’ve got it wrong.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

charlotte bronteOne of my favourite books, despite (or because of?) being forced to study it at A-level.

Jane is a poor plain orphaned girl, whose fiery passion is never beaten down, despite emotional and physical abuse as a child.

After she leaves school, she becomes a governess, and falls in love with her employer the byronic Mr Rochester. They plan to marry but Rochester’s many secrets, including a wife still alive in the attic of his house, prove impediments.

Many may disagree, but to me, Jane’s insistence on marrying Rochester on an equal footing, with her own income, is the perfect love story.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

FingersmithThe news that Sarah Waters is releasing a new novel this autumn has brightened up this dreary February. So, to pass the time, let’s turn to one of her classic Victorian-inspired Fingersmith.

Sue Trinder, raised in a “Fagin-like den of thieves,” is enlisted by an acquaintance “Gentleman” to assist his seduction of a wealthy young heiress Maud.

Sue is to work as her maid, and eventually convince Maud to elope with Gentleman. Initially all goes to plan, but then Sue realises that her feelings for Maud are changing.

Fingersmith is a thriller, with a mighty twist halfway through, but is also a brilliantly told love story – perfect for these long winter nights.

The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller

12book "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline MillerInspired by the Iliad, this hugely enjoyable novel tells the love story between Achilles and Patroclus, which is hinted at by Homer.

Patroclus is an awkward young prince who has been exiled to the kingdom of Pthia, to be raised by King Peleus, the father of the regal and talented young Achilles.

The two strike up an unlikely friendship, which eventually grows into something more. But Achilles is the son of a sea goddess Thetis, and is destined to become a hero – a life that Thetis does not see Patroclus sharing.

Called to the battle of Troy, only one fate can await them. A very successful first novel.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-prejudiceOf course, no list of literary romances could overlook Pride and Prejudice.

Although, I must confess that my heart didn’t beat for Lizzie and Darcy with quite as much passion as it did for Bingley and Jane!

Anyone else with me there?

Oh, how could he leave her, when she was so perfect?

When they enjoyed each other’s company so?

How I rejoiced when he eventually proposed!

Of course, I do wish Lizzie and Darcy well too…

Atonement by Ian McEwan

AtonementAnother budding love story that could not be.

The upper-class Cecilia Tallis, and the son of the family housekeeper realise one warm day that they are in love.

However, due to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings made by Cecilia’s younger sister Briony, Robbie is accused of rape.

The two are torn apart, first by Robbie’s jail sentence, and then by the Second World War.

Made into a terrific film with Keira Knightly and James McAvoy, I maintain that anyone who remains dry-eyed through the final has a heart of tin.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Rosie ProjectFinally, a completely different, more modern story.

Socially awkward genius Professor Don Tillman creates a list of attributes that he would like to see in his future partner, and entitles it “The Wife Project.”

As a joke, one of his friends sets him up with Rosie – the antithesis of the entire list.

What follows is funny, sweet and not entirely predictable.

Perhaps a more appropriate Valentine’s read than Atonement too…

Title image by Stanley Klimley, prominent magazine illustrator of the 1940s and 1950s.

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  • Reply Kizzy @ The Dainty Dolls House February 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I need to read the Song of Achilles…sounds really interesting!! xx

    • Reply Melissa February 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Definitely! I haven’t read it yet either! Was a huge fan of a book called “Troy” by Adèle Geras when I was younger – love all the mythology :) x

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