Share Such Sweet Sorrow: 6 Tender Stories of Forbidden Love

Such Sweet Sorrow: 6 Tender Stories of Forbidden Love

Finola Austin is the author of BRONTË’S MISTRESS, a novel about Branwell Brontë’s scandalous affair with his employer’s wife.   Photo Credit: Nina Subin

This post is by Finola Austin, author of the new historical fiction novel, BRONTE’S MISTRESS, which explores the scandalous affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, the woman who allegedly brought down the Bronte family.


Many of the most iconic stories are love stories, and the course of true love never did run smooth. So, who could resist these wonderful novels about forbidden love? The couples in these six books are divided by circumstance, social standing, insoluble marriages, and heteronormative definitions of romance. Some of the books end happily. Others less so. But all offer a new perspective on sexual relationships through novels that pack an emotional punch. 


Tidelands
by Philippa Gregory

Calling all Fleabag fans! Philippa Gregory’s latest historical novel centers on a romance with a Catholic priest. The marshes of the south of England, 1648. The country is in the grip of civil war, and Alinor’s abusive fisherman husband has been gone for months, when a chance meeting with James changes her life forever. Not only is love between the pair impossible, but Alinor, a midwife and descendant of a wisewoman, has knowledge and skills that put her under suspicion. The couple is poised for disaster. 

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Tidelands
Philippa Gregory

This New York Times bestseller from “one of the great storytellers of our time” (San Francisco Book Review) turns from the glamour of the royal courts to tell the story of an ordinary woman, Alinor, living in a dangerous time for a woman to be different.

On Midsummer’s Eve, Alinor waits in the church graveyard, hoping to encounter the ghost of her missing husband and thus confirm his death. Until she can, she is neither maiden nor wife nor widow, living in a perilous limbo. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.

England is in the grip of a bloody civil war that reaches into the most remote parts of the kingdom. Alinor’s suspicious neighbors are watching each other for any sign that someone might be disloyal to the new parliament, and Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her as a woman who doesn’t follow the rules. They have always whispered about the sinister power of Alinor’s beauty, but the secrets they don’t know about her and James are far more damning. This is the time of witch-mania, and if the villagers discover the truth, they could take matters into their own hands.

“This is Gregory par excellence” (Kirkus Reviews). “Fans of Gregory’s works and of historicals in general will delight in this page-turning tale” (Library Journal, starred review) that is “superb… A searing portrait of a woman that resonates across the ages” (People).

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By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
by Elizabeth Smart

Our unnamed narrator falls in love with a man she’s never met in this slight but astonishing work of poetic prose. The problem? The object of her desire already has a wife. Based on the real relationship between the Canadian author Smart and British poet George Barker, BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT is a lyrical masterpiece, exploring the dizzying heights and depressive depths of infatuation, against backdrops including the lush Californian landscape, the indifference of a late-night New York City diner, and Europe, devastated by the ravages of World War II.

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By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
Elizabeth Smart

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MENTIONED IN:

Such Sweet Sorrow: 6 Tender Stories of Forbidden Love

By Finola Austin | August 4, 2020

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Fingersmith
by Sarah Waters

Victorian England. Hardened orphan Sue Trinder must pose as lady’s maid to sheltered heiress Maud Lilly in this brilliantly plotted page-turner of a novel. Sue’s job? To convince Maud to elope with criminal mastermind Gentleman. In an isolated country house, the relationship between the girls soon becomes romantic, but both Sue and Maud have secrets. Who is the cat and who is the mouse in this game full of twists and turns?

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Fingersmith
Sarah Waters

Read an LGBTQ+ Romance Novel

Orphan Sue Trinder is raised amongst “fingersmiths”—transient petty thieves. When a fingersmith known as Gentleman asks Sue to help him con a wealthy woman out of her inheritance, she never expects to pity her helpless mark, let alone come to care for her. But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

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Such Sweet Sorrow: 6 Tender Stories of Forbidden Love

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Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert

Emma Bovary (née Rouault) is a woman unsatisfied with married life in Flaubert’s masterpiece, written in 1856. She clings to her virtue for a time, but eventually embarks on two tumultuous love affairs, making her one of fiction’s most famous adulteresses. But it’s not just love and sex that Emma covets. She also longs for the other indulgences forbidden to her as a woman of her time and position—luxury and freedom.  

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Madame Bovary
Gustave Flaubert

One of the greatest novels ever written!

Gustave Flaubert is arguably one of the greatest novelists of all time. His first novel, Madame Bovary, was published in 1856 and is considered a literary masterpiece by critics and scholars. His skillful wordsmithing combined with the scandal surrounding the novel launched it into notoriety. The story focuses on a doctor’s wife, Emma, a tragic heroine who attempts to escape her boring provincial life by having multiple affairs and living beyond her means.

 

* This chic and inexpensive edition comes with a heat-burnished cover, foil stamping, luxurious endpapers, and a smaller trim size that’s easy to hold.

 

Madame Bovary is a terrific example of Gustave Flaubert’s determination and his execution of capturing the details of modern realism.

 

About the Word Cloud Classics series:

Classic works of literature with a clean, modern aesthetic! Perfect for both old and new literature fans, the Word Cloud Classics series from Canterbury Classics provides a chic and inexpensive introduction to timeless tales. With a higher production value, including heat burnished covers and foil stamping, these eye-catching, easy-to-hold editions are the perfect gift for students and fans of literature everywhere.

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MENTIONED IN:

Such Sweet Sorrow: 6 Tender Stories of Forbidden Love

By Finola Austin | August 4, 2020

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See

Nineteenth-century China. Lily and Snow Flower are two girls matched as “laotong pair.” They exchange letters composed in women’s writing, which men can’t read. They meet when the strict conventions of social protocol allow. And they undergo the tribulations of childhood and adolescent life in parallel, suffering the pains of foot-binding and the injustices of marriage, when women don’t have the right to choose. Their relationship is intense and difficult to define—it is by turns sisterly, romantic, sexual, and hostile. But there’s no doubt that their connection is the most meaningful one in both of their lives. The novel is a compelling portrait of love in a time when romance between women was unthinkable. 

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Lisa See

A captivating journey back to nineteenth-century China when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, Lisa See’s gorgeously written work of fiction is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful.

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MENTIONED IN:

Such Sweet Sorrow: 6 Tender Stories of Forbidden Love

By Finola Austin | August 4, 2020

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Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

There are few love stories more iconic than Charlotte Brontë’s daring romance between “poor, obscure, plain, and little” governess Jane Eyre and her brooding employer, Mr. Rochester. Brontë’s brilliance is not just in presenting us with an unlikely heroine and a still more unlikely match, but also in making the coupling one between equals. “I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart,” Jane tells Rochester. Charlotte Brontë herself was no stranger to forbidden love, nursing unrequited feelings for a married schoolteacher. This obsession with impossible romance was one she shared with her brother, Branwell.

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Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë

No home library is complete without the classics! Jane Eyre is a keepsake to be read and treasured.

When Jane Eyre was first published in 1847, it became an instant bestseller, so popular that the publisher commissioned a second printing in just three months. The story of a young girl--plain, poor, and alone--who endures abuse, abandonment, and ridicule only to become a loving, compassionate young woman of great moral character remains Charlotte Brontë’s greatest achievement. Now available as part of the Word Cloud Classics series, Jane Eyre is a must-have addition to the libraries of all classic literature lovers.

 

About the Word Cloud Classics series:

Classic works of literature with a clean, modern aesthetic! Perfect for both old and new literature fans, the Word Cloud Classics series from Canterbury Classics provides a chic and inexpensive introduction to timeless tales. With a higher production value, including heat burnished covers and foil stamping, these eye-catching, easy-to-hold editions are the perfect gift for students and fans of literature everywhere.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

Such Sweet Sorrow: 6 Tender Stories of Forbidden Love

By Finola Austin | August 4, 2020

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