Like sweeping, romantic stories with a sense of atmosphere? Even want a little cry? I have books for you. Whether it's in the mythical past or the fairytale atmosphere of 1950's Tehran, fate plays a big part in these stories of love gone astray.
Family disappointment Patroclus befriends golden boy Achilles in pre-Trojan War Greece in Mary Miller's The Song of Achilles. The young men fall in love and defy their families and the gods themselves to seek their own happiness. But the Fates will not be denied: war comes and everyone must fulfill their terrible destinies. Those who love Mary Renault will find Miller a worthy heir, with deep characterizations and a wealth of knowledge about Ancient Greece lightly worn.
Switching to the aftermath of the Trojan War, the acclaimed Ursula Le Guin rescues a minor character from the Aeneid from obscurity in Lavinia. Princess of the small but important kingdom of Latium, Lavinia is gifted with the ability to speak to gods and the deceased. Knowing she is to marry a stranger, she refuses the suitors pressed on her and sparks civil war when she selects Aeneas, refugee from Troy and future founder of Rome. This is a story of taking one's fate in one's hands and provides a woman's point of view to Virgil's very masculine tale.
The Dragon Queen and The Raven Warrior by Alice Borchardt are fanciful retellings of the Arthurian saga. Guinevere is the daughter of a pagan queen, brought up to wield both arms and magic in a post-Roman Britain. She also has an affinity for communicating with dragons and gets on the bad side of a nasty Merlin.The love triangle between Guinevere, Arthur and Lancelot still happens, but this time among equals.
Connor is The Smoke Jumper, as is his buddy Ed, part of an elite wilderness firefighting corps in this novel by Nicholas Evans. They also have Julia in common, but she makes a heart-wrenching choice between them during a wildfire. Connor goes on to become a war photographer, constantly putting in danger a life he no longer values. Full of plot twists, this book successfully melds suspense with a love story.
The streets of Tehran are full of hope and youthful energy in 1953, so it is really no surprise that Roya and Bahman fall in love and plan to marry in Marjan Kamali's The Stationery Shop. As fated as they seem to be, however, they are thwarted by forces beyond their control. Roya and Bahman go on to marry other people, but for 60 years they never forget each other, meeting again in New England. The struggles of modernity vs. tradition, democracy vs. autocracy, and love vs. fear and grief all play out against the political and geographic landscapes of Iran and the United States.
Have more stories of love and fate? Tell us in the comments.