The Top 5 series is back! Top Five Saturday is a meme hosted by Devouring Books to discover and share books that all have a common theme. Previously on the blog I have focused on witches, werewolves, thrillers, faeries, fairy tale re-tellings, high fantasy and many more. I am going to try and bring this series back for every Saturday.
PREVIOUS TOP FIVE SATURDAY LISTS:
- 27th June 2020: Morally Grey Characters
- 4th July 2020: Coming of Age Stories
- 11th July 2020: (Over) Hyped Books
- 18th July 2020:
BooksPhysical ARCs You Own
- 25th July 2020: #ownvoices novels
This is a tricky list for me: I am not, generally, a reader of romance where this trope is familiar and – I am led to believe – popular. It also does crop up in fantasy novels from time to time. I do understand the appeal: it takes as much real investment and respect to maintain and enmity as it does to maintain love.
So what am I looking for here? For enemies, I am willing to include rivals. And the lovers? I would want a genuine and honest love, nothing abusive or creepy or Stockholm Syndromey – so I am cutting out Briseis and Achilles from The Silence of the Girls because, well, rapist and slave is about as far from “lover” as it is possible to get and
I am also going to limit myself to canonical relationships, so no fanfiction shipping however wonderful Sherlock and Moriarty might have been together.
I am having to dig a little here but the ultimate (if not original) for me is…
Beatrice and Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
This is without doubt one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and these two definitely steal the scene in every single scene they are in. A romantic subplot that overshadows the entirety of the main plot.
Why do I love these two so much? Their bickering and “merry war” is just so brutal and so genuinely funny yet so poignant and realistic at the same time!
Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?
Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick?
And their conversion to love is wholly credible: the attention they pay to each other in the war, in the masked ball, in the wedding that even without their friends ploy to bring them together, they were clearly made for each other. And the hurt between them is palpable
Don Pedro: Come, lady, come, you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.
Beatrice: Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gave him use for it, a double heart for his single one. Marry, once before he won it of me with false dice. Therefore your Grace may well say I have lost it.
And once in love, they remain hilarious, edgy, sexy…
Alex and Henry, Red, White and Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston
Alex and Henry are so adorable! And the novel is so sweet. To be fair the “enemies” part of this is rather brief: for the majority of the novel, they are in love with only their own emotional constipation, the Atlantic Ocean and international politics to keep them apart!
The most annoying thing of all is Alex knows Henry hates him too—he must, they’re naturally mutual antagonists—but he refuses to outright act like it. Alex is intimately aware politics involves a lot of making nice with people you loathe, but he wishes that once, just once, Henry would act like an actual human and not some polished little windup toy sold in a palace gift shop.
He’s too perfect. Alex wants to poke it.
Spin and Jerkface aka Spensa and Jurgen, Skyward, Brandon Sanderson
A beautiful illustration form Jill Anderson on Insta https://www.instagram.com/jillustrations/
The romance between these two is secondary to their friendship in my opinion – Spin the outsider, the outcast, living in a cave with an alien slug and possibly psychotic AI for company; Jorgen, her privileged and elite flightmate. Spensa’s chip on her shoulder blinds her to Jorgen’s own vulnerabilities and his respect for her. Until this scene.
Eadez and Sabran, The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon
Kick ass dragon-riding warrior women, fire wielding mystic mages, immortal sorceresses, dragons… the novel is almost too ambitious. But I think Ead (sent to spy in Sabran’s court_ and Queen Sabran IX can be classed as enemies, at least in terms of their state allegiances if not their personal feelings.
And their love is wonderfully tender and sweet.
Aziraphale and Crowley, Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Okay, I am breaking my own definition here: the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley is not romantic in the novel, but it is so beautiful it so should be! And the BBC adaptation is so shipping them!
Again, they don’t ever seem to be enemies either if I am honest – except for the political allegiance to, you know, Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil. But neither of them are ever on any side except their own and increasingly each others.
Gideon and Harrow, Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir
I am guessing here, because this is a current read, but the effort Harrow is putting into controlling, dominating and keeping Gideon so so close is making me think there is something going on there….
Also, Harrow the Ninth is released on Tuesday, so I really should be finishing off Gideon!
UPCOMING TOP FIVE SATURDAY LISTS:
- August 8- Underrated Books/Hidden Gems
- August 15- Recommended Reads
- August 22- Young Adult Books
- August 29- Detective Books