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Why We Love Romance Stories

Love is a central theme in fiction. This theme has been woven into Greek tragedies, plays by Shakespeare, and novels by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Steinbeck, and Hemingway.

The depiction and exploration of love and the resulting plot twists create the dramatic moments that draw readers to these stories. These stories also portray the many faces of love, including romantic love between partners or lovers, as well as familial love between a mother and a child, a father and a child, or between brothers and sisters.

Author Victor Hugo dramatizes both familial love and romantic love in his epic tale, Les Misérables, which tells the story of Fantine, a tragic character who is left with an illegitimate child after her lover abandons her. Fantine desperately loves her child, Cosette, and will do anything to support her, even turning to prostitution. The familial love for Cosette is then continued by Jean Valjean, who rescues the girl after Fantine dies. The story spins in another direction and focuses on romantic love when Cosette grows into a beautiful young woman and falls in love with Marius, a student of the French rebellion.

Though Victor Hugo published Les Misérables in 1862, his themes of love are timeless, as can be seen in the theatrical, TV, and film adaptations of this novel.

Shakespeare’s tragic tale of romantic love ― Romeo and Juliet ― is also timeless, and the numerous modern spinoffs of this story prove that point. Romantic love draws readers to Jane Austen novels such as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, as well as to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, a classic tale of love and adultery, continues to fascinate readers.

The theme of love continues in modern-day novels, including 50 Shades of Grey (E.L. James), Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Me Before You (Jo Jo Moyes), My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult), Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen), China Doll (Lisa See), and The Light Between Oceans (M. L. Stedman).

And the audience for these new love stories is robust. Total romance fiction sales in 2013 reached $1.08 billion, according to statistics from the Romance Writers of America.

For authors whose stories revolve around love and romance, there will continue to be a growing audience eager to read them.

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