Books: Best and Worst Couples

Screenshot from ‘Jane Eyre’ 2011 featuring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Copyright goes to Universal Pictures and Focus Features.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Again, I have to go back to books since I feel this time of the year is the best for reading. You can finally snuggle under a blanket without practically dying from the heat! In my last post I did sort of hint at not liking Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester as a couple, and it made me think about romances in books that I liked versus ones that I don’t. So this is a list of good couples in books and, in contrast, couples in books that just don’t work. Please note that this post will have light SPOILERS for the books that I mention. With that out of the way, let’s get started! (I’m not going to include any couples from books I haven’t read, like ‘Twilight’.)

Worst:

Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre):

Of course, I had to mention these two first. No matter how hard I try, I can’t like this couple. Mr. Rochester is kind of a douchebag and Jane feels like such a strong character by the end of the book that you hate seeing her drawn back towards him. Or at least, I hate it. Mr. Rochester is never all that nice to Jane or really anyone and their relationship is completely built on lies. A lot of people have pointed to the fact that he was sort of tricked into the mistakes that he makes in the book, but that is no excuse for the way he treats Jane and how he leads her on for a good chunk of the book. The worst part? Mr. Rochester never really changes. This book feels more like Jane learning to deal with his toxic behavior than it feels like Mr. Rochester attempting to become kinder towards Jane. I wish this couple wasn’t held up quite to the standard that it is, because it isn’t really an example of a healthy relationship.

Westley and Buttercup (The Princess Bride):

Please note that I am, in fact, talking about this couple from the book and not from the movie. The portrayal of them in the movie is much much better and absolutely loveable. I should also note that this couple being bad was absolutely purposeful by the author who did write this couple entirely in parody. So, I’ll start this off by noting that Westley actually does hit Buttercup in the book. In the book they both come off as being brats, though still likeable enough to read about. But you definitely don’t believe the entire ‘true love’ thing because there are several parts in the book where it feels like they don’t even like each other. Buttercup is extremely dumb and Westley isn’t exactly a stereotypical hero. They are fun to read about, but not so great as a couple.

Christine and Raoul (The Phantom of the Opera):

Please also note that I’m talking about this from the standpoint of the book (though I don’t like Christine with either guy in the musical too, but I digress). Obviously, you shouldn’t like Christine with the Phantom especially in the book for many reasons. Namely the murder. The issue is, Raoul isn’t necessarily great either. He doesn’t really care about what Christine thinks, constantly ignores her thoughts and feelings, and views her as being too naïve and emotional even though he’s the one who’s generally naïve and emotional. This is also almost taken for parody in the book and is not meant to be a very good depiction of a couple. I will admit that the two as a couple is better in the musical, but it does seem to be at the expense of much of Christine’s intelligence from the book.

Pheobus and Esmerelda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame):

If you’ve read the book you might think that this is a no brainer. They were written to be a bad couple. But, I put this on the list for Disney fans. As much as I really like Disney, Pheobus should have never been depicted as a love interest for Esmerelda in any media ever. Pheobus was an awful man who considered sexually assaulting Esmerelda to get what he wanted, took advantage of her kindness, and eventually said nothing when she was executed (even though he knew she was innocent) because he didn’t want his fiancée to know he was being unfaithful. Pheobus was written to be an awful man and there is actually a character they could have easily used to be an love interest to Esmerelda that they didn’t even include in the movie. Making Pheobus the love interest for Esmerelda in the Disney movie was… a strange choice.

Best:

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice):

Obviously. They begin the novel at each other’s throats and eventually figure out how mistaken they were about each other. Through the process they also realize their own faults and work to become better for each other. By the time the novel ends they have both become better people and there is no doubt in your mind that they are absolutely perfect for each other. This novel also features Jane and Mr. Bingley who are an absolutely adorable couple and almost equally amazing as the main couple. Though I do feel that a bit of these romances are…well…romanticized… I do think that they are amazing and incredibly healthy.

Fire and Brigan (Fire):

I’m not always a big fan of young adult novels, so I don’t read a lot of them. I was honestly surprised at how much I liked this one, especially because romance as a main plot point isn’t necessarily my favorite either. Fire and Brigan are another couple that begin the book at each other’s throats, again because of a misunderstanding rather than an actual thing that either of them did. Instead of a sudden realization that they were wrong because of a dramatic action, they actually discover their first impressions were incorrect by spending time with each other. In the end, this couple isn’t exactly as passionate as you would expect most young adult couples to be. Which is what I liked! Their version of love is just being there for each other. They show their love by comforting each other and giving each other strength in important situations instead of by staring at each other for long periods of time or making out. Their love feels so much more real and tangible and warm than most of the couples I’ve read about.

Poppet and Bailey (The Night Circus):

I have to add these two in here, of course, because I love this book. You are probably wondering why I didn’t say Marco and Celia as they are the main romance in this book. Don’t get me wrong, I love that couple as well, but I just love the warmth and innocence of Poppet and Bailey. They are both pretty introverted in comparison to most of the other characters in the book, but they both find comfort around each other. As great as is it is read about the angst of Marco and Celia; I much preferred reading about Bailey and Poppet running through the ice forest circus tent or going to buy hot chocolate together. Away from other people, but still together. (I’m an introvert, can you tell?) It felt so natural and innocent and you can’t help but imagine what it would be like to be in the Night Circus with someone special.

Linus and Arthur (The House in the Cerulean Sea):

If you liked the couple of Crowley and Aziraphale in ‘Good Omens’, you’ll love these two! It’s basically like them, but if the show didn’t shy away from actually portraying them as a couple. This book was written by a gay author to help promote LGBTQ+ representation and it does just that. These two aren’t overly passionate, but also show their love by supporting each other and basically co-parenting the children in this book. In the end everyone, including the children, ships it. You will cheer at their small adorable dances together and when they finally get together. This is one of the healthiest couples you will ever see in anything ever.

There you have it! Some of my favorite and least favorite couples in books! Hopefully this list has included some book you’re interested in reading now! I made sure to only include books that I really like, even for the couples that I don’t like. Once again, happy reading!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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