Books about Love
November 13, 2017 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a fiction book about love. The catch - not a book about new love, puppy love, unrequited love, etc. I'd like a book about people who have been in love for a decade or more and are happy (or end up happy). The love story doesn't have to be a main plot in the story, but it would be appreciated.

Y'all had brilliant suggestions for my last book question. I'm back for more. Who loves books on love?
posted by peasandcarrots to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety" is an atypical love story. It follows two married couples for decades, from their 20s through retirement, and quietly traces the joys (and challenges) of their marriages. It's about how love evolves over time, as people change. My book club made it into a fascinating discussion.
posted by writermcwriterson at 9:28 AM on November 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera might fit your criteria pretty well.
posted by dis_integration at 9:30 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Maybe Spence and Lila by Bobbie Ann Mason. It's about a couple that's been married for forty years dealing with the wife's breast cancer. It's been a long time since I've read it, but I think it has a happy ending.
posted by FencingGal at 9:48 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, there's Baucis and Philemon, which is a short story, but wikipedia says some people have run with it.
posted by aniola at 9:48 AM on November 13, 2017

It doesn’t exactly fit your criteria (the book ends before we see decades of marriage, etc), but can I still plug Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson? It is the absolute best description of love I have ever read. A truly amazing book.
posted by machinecraig at 9:53 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

among many other plot elements, The World According to Garp follows a couple from university courtship to midlife. They struggle, but deeply love each other.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:02 AM on November 13, 2017

Landline by Rainbow Rowell is such a wonderful example of this. A mature relationship is in a rocky spot and they are reminded of why they love each other so much.
posted by jillithd at 10:09 AM on November 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

My first thought is Anne Tyler. Breathing Lessons is a great book about a marriage but I think many of her books might fit the bill.
posted by bluebird at 10:12 AM on November 13, 2017

They're very depressing on virtually all other fronts, but Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti mysteries do this beautifully. Brunetti's relationship with his wife is a large part of why I, and I suspect many others, read the series.
posted by ferret branca at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2017

Let me throw out The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter. Also let me thank you for making me notice Baxter again. He was one of my favorite writers back when that's what I wanted to be.
posted by Ecgtheow at 10:39 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti mysteries do this beautifully.

Inspector Maigret also gets along very well with his wife, and often this relationship is used by Simenon as contrast for the detective side of the stories. They also often discuss his cases. Madame Maigret plays more of a role in some of the stories than in others, but she stars in Madame Maigret's Friend.

Chief Inspector Barnaby has a good relationship with his wife, though she doesn't often argue his cases with him as Madame Maigret does. Inspector Van der Valk's relationship with his wife is so good that when he is killed, in The Widow, she tracks down his killer.
posted by ubiquity at 11:46 AM on November 13, 2017

I'll second Anne Tyler. A Spool of Blue Thread is a good one for this.

My Real Children, by Jo Walton, is another.
posted by missrachael at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yup, third Anne Tyler. Breathing Lessons. I also like a lot of the marriages in Jhumpa Lahiri's stories/books, like the parents in The Namesake.
posted by caoimhe at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2017

Any of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache novels, for the relationship between Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie. Their love is true and deep.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:33 PM on November 13, 2017

If you've already read Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, the subsequent books she wrote as an older author (Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind) return to Ged and Tenar's stories in a very satisfying way. Their love is not the absolute focus of any of those books, (they do not appear as a couple in Tales,) but the way they come together and talk to and of each other is full of care and attention. If you want to read about two people whose respect for each other and joy in their world makes both of them (and their world) more real and important than it could otherwise have been, you might enjoy those books.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 1:01 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It has been awhile since I have read it, but I think the title essay of This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett fits your bill. It is a lovely book of essays, all around.
posted by pril at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's a side aspect rather than the main plot, but the love between the missing researcher and his wife at the heart of Ann Patchett's State of Wonder definitely does that.

The marriage in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead books - particularly in Gilead and Lila - is another really good one.
posted by Mchelly at 1:24 PM on November 13, 2017

I recently read Celine by Peter Heller and while the main plot centers around tracking down a missing person, the couple doing the tracking down are long married and their relationship is a strong undercurrent throughout the book.
posted by brookeb at 1:39 PM on November 13, 2017

The main character in Camilla Lackberg's crime series is married and the development of that relationship over time is always featured in the books. I think in the first one or two books they are getting together but after that it's a charming but grounded portrait of a modern scandi marriage.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:15 PM on November 13, 2017

There's a love story in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer that came to mind when I read this question, it's stayed with me.
posted by lafemma at 2:20 PM on November 13, 2017

Clicked to make sure Breathing Lessons wasn't missed. Now where's my copy ...
posted by smugly rowan at 2:28 PM on November 13, 2017

The City Watch books by Terry Pratchett have two strong romantic relationships at their core - Sam Vimes and Lady Sybil, and Carrot and Angua - the latter have been together a shorter time and still working through stuff, but I enjoyed how committed both couples are and how they keep returning to each other for comfort after the events of the stories. Vimes and Sybil meet in Guards! Guards! and Carrot and Angua meet in Men at Arms. These are comedy-fantasy books so might not be up your street.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:58 PM on November 13, 2017

Anna Karenina. The main plot is, uh, not what you're looking for. But there's a secondary plot that I would argue is much more important, which is quite poignant. It's actually what I read to put myself to sleep the night before my wedding.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:10 PM on November 13, 2017

I liked the relationship between the Park's parents in Eleanor & Park !
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2017

You might check out some of Laurie Colwin.
posted by gudrun at 5:43 PM on November 13, 2017

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks. Sequel to The Notebook, which also works. But The Wedding is better.
posted by themanwho at 8:31 PM on November 13, 2017

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
posted by hollisimo at 4:31 PM on November 14, 2017

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