Saturday, October 12, 2013

Happily Ever After.

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By Noella Tillotson

Great love stories can touch your heart, make you laugh and move you to tears. Regardless if you are with the love of your life or still looking for your soul mate, a great love story pulls on the heartstrings. Here are a few of the most popular love stories of all time, plus a few new ones you may have missed.

Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights' is usually near the top of any list of great love stories. It's a heart-wrenching tale of how love can bring out the worse in a man. The story begins on the Wuthering Heights estate in 1802. The leading man, Heathcliff, is best friends with his adopted sister. The reader quickly realizes that the two are soul mates, but their romance is ruined by a careless remark.

Another novel that has consistently topped the list of the greatest love stories is 'Anna Karenina' by Tolstoy. In every way, this story is a soap opera. Anna is married and privileged to enjoy the highest levels of Russian aristocracy, but when she visits her brother in Moscow, she falls in love with Count Vronsky.

Anna tries mightily to subdue her desires for the count, but cannot. She leaves her husband but is not permitted a divorce. Without a divorce she is an outcast and must spend the rest of her life striving to gain acceptance of her relationship. Tragically, this proves to be too much.

'Romeo and Juliet' is perhaps the most eternal of tragic love stories and certainly among Shakespeare's most often told tales. It is the story of star-crossed lovers and the ultimate loss of love. The pivotal scene of Juliet on the balcony is the story of love captured in an image. They are meant for each other but cannot be together because of family dynamics beyond their control. Naturally, it does not end well.

As you may have noticed, the greatest love stories mentioned so far are a bit dated. However, Charles Frazier's 'Cold Mountain' is one of the few literary love stories to make the bestseller lists in recent memory. It's essentially a retelling of 'Romeo and Juliet' set in the desperate Civil War south. It too does not end well for the lovers.

A more recent novel, 'Some Glad Morning' by Gary C. Horton is now climbing the bestseller charts and has a similar plot, but with several surprising twists. The lovers are kept apart by social status and the leading man must first establish himself.

Elizabeth is a Charleston lady and Ransom the penniless son of a sharecropper. Gary C. Horton turns the story upside down through several surprising twists and lands it with a generous, heartwarming finale.

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