All great romances are captured in the secret love-letters that float amongst lovers. And so, in true romantic fashion, comes a curated list of the most heart-rendering and expertly written epistolary novels that are sure to deliver that much-needed dose of passion this Valentine’s Day. Revive the lost art of writing love-letters and take inspiration from these riveting epistolary romances that capture the longing, intimacy and ardour crucial to the age-old tradition of love literature.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
From the ingenious mind of Latin American author and Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Márquez, comes a love triangle whose tumult and passion is written into epic scales. Youthful lovers Fermina and Florentino, who live and love in the magical realist world of Marquez’s glorious fiction, are tragically separated when Fermina chooses to marry a wealthy doctor. After fifty years, nine months, four days and 662 affairs, a now-accomplished Florentino finally gets the chance to reunite with his beloved. One of the greatest love stories ever told, Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera” is a gripping tale of young love, tumultuous passion and dangerous desires.
The Atonement by Ian McEwan
British novelist and screenwriter, Ian McEwan’s contemporary epistolary novel is ingenious and unusual in that it is a series of letters by Briony that narrate the forbidden and passionate romance of her sister Celia and her lover Robbie. In the hopes of finding redemption and forgiveness, Briony sets on the arduous task of detailing the true nature of the love affair and her role in bringing it to a tragic end. Confessional, candid and reflective, the novel, set in three distinct periods, from 1935 England to Europe in the Second World War, and finally present-day Britain, is a metafictional novel that hopes to re-imagine a cruelly brief romance as one that ends happily.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Perhaps the most autobiographical of Austen’s novels, “Persuasion” follows a spirited Anne Elliot and her maturing experiences of romantic relationships. Elliot, in the hopes of offering financial stability to her dwindling household, decides to rent out her ancestral home to the Wentworths. What ensues is a series of will-they-won’t-they-meet cutes and missed opportunities that situate Anne’s battle between an idealistic desire to be persuaded and the socially informed caution that rejects it. While informally written, it is perhaps one of Austen’s most mature works, offering meditative insight into the reality of second marriages, pressures of moral sensibility and social expectation, as well as the experience of being a woman who is staunchly un-attached in a world that believes in quickly marrying well.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
O’Leary’s feel-good romance, which is now an adapted television series, is a novel narrated in post-its, texts and voice notes. When Tiffany moves out of her ex-boyfriend’s apartment, she is forced into the only affordable option: a flatshare with night-shift palliative-care nurse Leon Twomey. With Tiffy working days and Leon working nights, they become roommates who never meet, and would know little of each other if not for the notes they tack-on and leave behind. Adapting the idea of lettered communication to the modern world, “The Flatshare” details an unusual romance with a refreshingly original plotline.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuisto
In a happily-ever-after set in a seemingly alternate universe that makes them possible, McQuisto’s “Red, White and Royal Blue” follows the enemies-to-lovers romance of British Prince Henry and American First Son Alex as they discover vast common ground that weighs heavier than their differences. What ensues is a royal romance that, unlike many romance novels and their tragic twists, is determined to be a light and fun story of two teenage boys who text each other late at night and unwittingly fall in love. An accomplishment in happy queer representation, Casey McQuisto’s novel is for anyone looking for an entertaining and lively rom-com.
Letters to Milena by Franz Kafka
“Dear Milena, I wish the world were ending tomorrow. Then I could take the next train, arrive at your doorstep in Vienna, and say: ‘Come with me, Milena. We are going to love each other without scruples or fear or restraint. Because the world is ending tomorrow.'”
No list of love letters would be complete without mentioning Kafka’s vulnerable, intelligent and feverish letters to Czech translator Milena Jesenská. What starts as a series of exchanges between an author and his translator, grows into an impossible but unavoidable love affair. This collection, of some of the most ardently written correspondences to ever be committed to print, preserves an intimate and untold love story for the ages.
Pick up an epistolary romance that will toy with your heart from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.