When I first saw this topic on the list, I thought it would be very difficult for me. I don’t read a lot of books that would necessarily be considered romances, but I do read a lot of contemporary, YA and even fantasy stories, all of which tend to have quite a big romantic component. In general, I tend to really enjoy books that have strong character development, and I think exploring their relationships are a key part of that. Here are five of the books that first came to mind when I think of an angsty romance:
**Spoiler alert, although the majority of the books I’m choosing are a bit older/very popular, so I think most people already know the main plot points**
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and the official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Buffy and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This may be a bit of a cheat, but it was by far the first couple that came to mind. I know Top 5 Wednesday topics are not necessarily limited to books only, but I tend to try to focus that way. In this case, there is the graphic novel series, as well as the novel series based off the TV show. I only recently read the Season 8 comics, and I used to read the novels quite often. However, the main reason I picked this couple is because of the angsty relationship they had in the TV show, which carried over into the other formats as well. To me, this couple defines angsty relationship. She is a 16-year-old vampire slayer, and he is an approximately 300-year-old vampire cursed with a soul. Their relationship is complicated by Angel’s strong desire to protect her, which is matched by an almost equally strong conviction that being with him is not fair or right for her. Never mind the fact that Buffy is a teenager experiencing her first love and serious relationship, with all the angst that goes with it.
2) Jamie and Landon from A Walk to Remember
This was another example where the movie came to mind before the book. I saw the movie version long before reading the book, and after trying both, I strongly prefer the movie version. Most of Nicholas Sparks’ books can easily be considered angsty relationships, but this is a prime example. The book is about a teenage boy named Landon who develops a relationship with Jamie, the minister’s daughter who has also been diagnosed with cancer. I preferred the movie because I thought it gave a lot more depth to Jamie, and made her seem a lot more realistic and relatable, although just now as I looked at a list of the main differences between the two versions, there are really very few — although I preferred the bad boy angle they had on Landon’s character in the movie. This is still one of my favourite movies and I’m actually interested in trying the book again to see if it is better now that I haven’t seen the movie in a while. In any case, this is definitely a key example of an angsty couple because of the shock of Jamie’s diagnosis that came just after Landon realized his feelings for her.
3) Cecilia and Robbie from Atonement
Cecilia and Robbie were a bit more of a complicated choice, because their relationship was cut so short so most of the angst actually happens after it is over. In this novel, the couple is separated by Cecilia’s younger sister Briony, who misunderstands their relationship and accuses Robbie of sexually assaulting their cousin. Briony is convinced it was Robbie, although she was unable to see the assailant clearly, causing Robbie to be taken away. The majority of the book focuses on Briony’s guilt over her mistake, and the the impact she had on the relationship is a powerful one. Even in the portions of the story “written” by Briony, their relationship is definitely an angsty one. It is definitely a case of a couple who was torn apart by circumstances, and this was one case where even though I watched the movie first, I enjoyed the book just as much.
4) Henry and Clare from The Time Traveler’s Wife
I know a lot of people had issues with this couple and this book, but it is one of my favourites. As soon as I started reading, I was so captivated by their story, which takes long-distance relationship to an extreme in a sense. Henry has a very rare genetic disorder that causes him to spontaneously and involuntarily travel through time, whereas Clare lives her life normally, in a linear timeline. Henry has no control over where he goes or for how long, which naturally puts a lot of strain on the relationship when they finally get together. Aside from this, because of all the time jumping, young Clare has met Henry many times throughout her life, while Henry meets her for the “first” time in his late 20s. I thought this was a beautifully written story and I loved how naturally their relationship developed, even with all the confusion of the time jumps. It still felt like a very real relationship, and I especially appreciated how well the author handled the idea of Clare always waiting for Henry.
5) Jane and Rochester from Jane Eyre
I had to include at least one of the classics on this list. Although Wuthering Heights seems the more obvious choice, I decided to go for another of my favourite literary relationships. Although Jane and Rochester love each other, their relationship is hindered by secrets that he’s kept. Rochester uses another woman to make Jane jealous, forcing her to confess her feelings, and then proposes to her despite legally being unable to get married. Jane even ends up leaving in the middle of the night to get away from the drama of the relationship. It definitely seems very angsty to me, but it is easily one of my favourites!