5. Penelope and Odysseus.
Out of all the messed-up relationships in Greek mythology and literature (Oedipus the original motherfucker, Agamemnon hacked to pieces in the bath, Freakin' Zeus and Achilles' IS THERE NO ONE ELSE), Odysseus and Penelope are a bastion of common sense and decency. Sure, he sleeps with every female he encounters, takes ten years to get home from war and then kills off all the handsome young men in the village. But he's a Greek. That's just how they rolled. He sleeps with the pretty ladies and then hangs out on the beach crying like a girl for Penelope.
And Penelope. What a star. Using the power of awesome, she holds off 108 suitors; she comes up with the idea of the contest; she's the only character in the entire epic to outwit Odysseus, in my favourite scene ever.
ODYSSEUS: Honey, I'm home!
PENELOPE: Don't believe you.
ODYSSEUS: Seriously, it's me, baby. Come to bed.
PENELOPE: I'm not sleeping with you. I'll have a servant move my bed into the hall for you.
ODYSSEUS: WHAT? I MADE THAT BED OUT OF A TREE STILL ROOTED INTO THE FLOOR. YOU DESTROYED OUR MARITAL BED SO YOU COULD SEX UP THOSE SUITORS, DIDN'T YOU? I DON'T BELIEVE IT.
PENELOPE: Snap. Welcome home, honey.
The adjective that describes Odysseus and Penelope is like-mindedness. Basically, they are both as sneaky as each other.
4. Alec and Rose from A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian.
Michelle Magorian is one of those writers whose writing just draws me in so that I cannot stop and I cry and laugh and get to the end and realise it is three in the morning and I have five empty tea mugs beside my bed.
So I quite like A Little Love Song, as you can imagine. Rose and her beautiful sister Diana go to live in the country during World War II, and both fall in love. Rose meets the nice man who owns the bookshop and gives her Jane Eyre and DH Lawrence poetry and encourages her to write stories. She also meets and dates his cousin, Derry, who is a douchebag.
DERRY: Hey baby. I'm going to war.
ROSE: Okay. Your cousin's pretty cool.
DERRY: Alec's a coward. We should totally have sex.
ROSE: Um, I don't feel comfortable about that.
DERRY: BUT I MIGHT DIE AT WAR.
I think about halfway through reading, I made the mistake of talking to Katie. The conversation basically involved me yelling "IF ALEC AND ROSE DON'T GET TOGETHER IN THE END I WILL BEAT YOU WITH YOUR OWN BOOK."
So yeah, Derry doesn't get into the RAF because he has bad eyesight and flat feet, and goes home. Rose doesn't get pregnant (THANK GOD) and confesses everything to Alec who is like, 'It's okay, Derry is an ass and SOMEONE TOTALLY PUBLISHED YOUR STORY'. And he asks her to help him out in the bookshop. And eventually they cut the crap and just start being together.
And it is excellent.
3. Christopher and Millie from the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones
I was going to write about Sophie and Howl, but I'm in a Millie mood. When we meet Millie and Christopher they are an old, married couple. Christopher wears fancy dressing gowns and forgets people's names and Millie is suprisingly un-beautiful and the kindest lady in the world. So that's very nice.
And then The Lives of Christopher Chant and Conrad's Fate happened and we get backstory. Millie is an enchantress from another world who steals one of Christopher's lives and is addicted to school stories and Christopher is a nine-lived enchanter who is allergic to silver and just wants to play cricket. THEY FIGHT CRIME.
In Conrad's Fate, Millie makes the mistake of telling Christopher that she's unhappy at school:
"And Christopher was just as overbearing as I knew he would be. You know, 'My dear Millie, set your mind at rest and I will fix it' - and this time he was worse. He decided we were going to go and live together on an island in Series Five. And when I said I wasn't sure I wanted to go and live all alone with Christopher - well, would you want to, Conrad?"
"No," I said, very definitely. "He's far too fond of his own way. And the way he makes superior jokes all the time - I want to hit him!"
2. Elizabeth and Darcy.
Well, obviously. Does anything else need to be said?
1. Anne and Gilbert.
I read the Anne series as a small child travelling around the East Coast of Canada. I have never forgiven my parents for not taking us to Prince Edward Island. Anne's hilarious melodramatic personality and Gilbert's decency and sense of humour just mesh.
So on her first day of school she breaks a slate over his head because he calls her Carrots (he just wants her to notice him!) And Anne refuses to speak to him ever again. She pretends to be dead and floats down the river in a boat, which springs a leak and leaves her stranded, Gilbert saves her and she still refuses to forgive him.
The excellent thing about Anne and Gilbert is EVERYONE knows that it's going to happen, except Anne, and she is genuinely surprised and upset when he proposes to her. And she dreams about the tall, dark, handsome stranger and is super-confused when Gilbert keeps turning up in her house of dreams to rearrange the furniture and lift heavy boxes.
Gilbert is also completely supportive of her educational and literary aspirations. They compete academically and keep coming first equal (because they are first equal in awesome) and Gilbert is always genuinely happy for her and pleased that she's done so well. And he thinks clever girls are cooler than pretty girls.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that Gilbert is such a Canadian. He's unfailingly polite, decent and friendly. And able to make fun of himself.
Honourable mentions to:
Margaret Hale and Mr Thornton in North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.
Peeta and Katniss in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (it hasn't happened yet but if it doesn't, Katie, Kirsten, Jerome and I will potentially have to start a support group)
Derek and Chloe in The Darkest Power trilogy by Kelley Armstrong (again, hasn't happened yet. Again, support group)
Kitty and Freddy in Cotillion by Georgette Heyer.
Basil and Betony in The Willow Tree's Daughter by Pamela Freeman (the gardener's boy and the princess. She claims him and saves him from an evil spirit, he woos her with sunflowers)
Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.
Agnes Grey and Mr Weston in Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (oh, they are so lovely)
In other news, exam in five days. Also, at roleplaying on Saturday, I had Charlie use her limp as a reason for her agression at the riot Jane started. The next day, the bottom of my foot had some sort of blister and so I spent the whole day limping at work. As Anne and Liz said, Irony is a bitch.
Tags: books: diana wynne jones, books: l m montgomery, books: michelle magorian, books: pride and prejudice, books: the odyssey, jane austen
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