It occurs to me that of all the things I’ve talked about, I seem to be missing the literary influences.
Lots is written about love; what it is, and what it isn’t. Romantic novels and love-stories are dismissed as ‘chick-lit’, not serious literature. Which I think is something of a shame. Because while quite a lot probably are light-hearted bits of fluff, there’s a lot more that isn’t. And they get missed because they’re ‘just’ romances. And yet, that’s what most of us are looking for: someone to love, and who loves us.
The first love-story I heard, I heard many, many times. It was an audio-book of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love. I didn’t read it until I was in my teens, but by then, I knew it pretty much off by heart, and the voices of the characters were those the reader had given them.
The Pursuit of Love isn’t really a traditional sort of romantic novel, but it is, most definitely, a story about love. As the title suggests. But it has a bitter-sweet ending, unlike most romances. Even Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate and the story of Fanny, the narrator of both, manage happy-ish endings.
It is, quite possibly, my favourite book of all time. It speaks to me of my childhood. Of many happy hours curled up by a heater, listening as Linda Radlett’s life and great love unfold. Of the dreams of glamour, of an overwhelming, all-consuming love-affair, of finding happiness.
Sometimes we dream so much about chasing the elusive thunder-bolt variety of love that we miss the enduring variety of love. Chasing the exciting, we become like the Bolter, flitting from one to another to satisfy the belief that love must always be electric. But even an eco-friendly light-bulb reaches a steady level of output after enough time.
Love has many forms. And from all I’ve heard, love in relationships requires patience, good humour, and hard work. Sometimes it’s not easy, but love is always worth it.