Valentine’s Day really isn’t my jam. It’s over-hyped, over-commercialized, and can be expensive, depending on who you talk to. But I’m still very much a sucker for romance, and my preferred medium for indulging in romance has always been the printed page. In my early teens, it was the Sweet Valley High books. When I got to high school, I began sneakily reading novels by Anne Rice and V. C. Andrews, always in private and never in the presence of my family. Sometime in my early 20’s, I watched a film adaptation of Jane Eyre with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt, and I quickly fell in love. I bought the book afterwards and fell in love again. Since then, I’ve never been without Jane Eyre. In the last 15 years, I’ve had to buy the book twice because I’m always losing it. I have a Kindle version as well, but I will never not have a printed copy on hand.
Jane Eyre remained my only go-to romance up until 2011 and I discovered E. M. Forster’s Maurice. My goodness, how I obsessed over this book AND movie, it was everything to me at that time! And then a couple of years later, I get into mythopoeic fantasy and read Elizabeth Hand’s Waking the Moon. I never rooted so hard for a protagonist, and by the end of it I was exhausted and a little weepy.
Funnily enough, while the three books I just mentioned are my favorite ‘romances’, the book I find myself reaching for on Valentine’s Day is the very dreamy and unsettling Picnic At Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. In the story, three female students and one of their teachers go missing while on a day trip to an ancient rock formation in Australia, on Valentine’s Day.