Sometimes, love is butterflies and rainbows. Sometimes, love is gaping wounds and torture.
And sometimes, love is just…funny.
…Or so say the books that are featured in this installment of the “5 best books” series.
In this collection, we have:
- A play that revolves around a particular first name which doubles as a commonly used adjective
- A popular classic novel with a famous, famous first line
- A classic that was called a classic by its author-who-is-not-its-author before it was even published…(long story)
- And more~
Some of these stories are primarily romances. Some are not, but feature a romance. But all of them are funny. Without further ado, here we go…!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” — Jane Austen
What funny romance list would be complete without the classic Pride & Prejudice? Austen’s zany cast of secondary characters are legendary.
But if you haven’t read this book yet, here’s a quick summary:
Pride & Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters, who, because they have no brothers, are at risk of losing their home and moderately-upper-class lifestyle if their father dies before they are married.
Meanwhile, a cheerful, rich man and his even richer but far more dour best friend move into the house next door, stirring up a furor among all the unattached young ladies in the area.
Unfortunately for Elizabeth, she and the rich man’s friend (Mr. Darcy) take an immediate dislike to each other, and circumstances keep making things worse, until Mr. Darcy makes a shocking confession (or two) that challenges everything Elizabeth thought she knew about the unpleasant brooding man…
Yep, I think that pretty much covers it. This book is a fantastic read, even for those not fans of romance, because Austen’s understanding and portrayal of human nature, quirky personalities, and witty banter is…well, brilliant. I’ve read this book multiple times, and each time I catch digs and jokes that went over my head in previous readings. Highly recommended!
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
“True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops.” — William Goldman
If you’ve never read (read, not watched, although watching is fine, too) The Princess Bride, you’re missing out. Because, while the Princess Bride movie included many of the best elements of the story, it’s only through reading the actual novel that you’re going to appreciate the full scope of William Goldman’s clever, zany, hilarious storytelling skills.
For instance: In the book, Goldman includes a “nonexistent reunion scene” between Westley and Buttercup that literally incited hordes of curious readers to write his publishing company (but if you try that now, you’re going to get a form letter which mentions, among other things, a curiously-named lawyer).
Then there are all of Goldman’s “asides” about how the purported “real author” of the book is a real bore who includes many unnecessary asides in the “original version” related to hooking thumbs and sculler maids and who-knows-what-else.
And the core of the story itself, about a farm girl and a farm boy who are separated when farm boy disappears at sea, only to return as a “dread pirate” in time to rescue farm-girl-turned-princess from an unwanted marriage, is a rollicking, laugh-out-loud adventure that will keep you entertained for hours.
I once wrote an entire college paper about the construction of The Princess Bride, and its delightful composition. And even with that, I still enjoy this story. Give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean.
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf by Gerald Morris
“I have this recurring nightmare where I’m lost in a strange forest, and my only hope is your sense of direction. Enough to give a fellow the sweats, it is.”— Gerald Morris
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf is part of a larger series of Arthurian retellings, penned by the humorous and gifted Gerald Morris. I highly recommend all the books in the series, but this one holds a particular place in my heart (perhaps because I own it, having found it in a used bookstore — a fantastic place for treasure hunting, may I add).
In this installment, second daughter Lynet (who is constantly being overshadowed by her drop-dead-gorgeous older sister) is forced to seek help from King Arthur when an evil knight lays siege to their family castle.
Only problem is, Lynet’s father used to fight against Arthur and his supporters. So the only people willing to accompany Lynet back to her home include: a newly-minted knight, his uncanny squire, and a rather rude dwarf.
Along the way, the motley quartet learn more about each other and even Arthur and Gawain’s history. And a last minute reveal shows Lynet that people (maybe including herself?) are not what they seem. (And that’s all I’ll say about that) Plus, there are tons of Gerald Morris’ trademark verbal and situational jokes to keep you laughing through the story.
If you’re a fan of Arthurian legend, funny middle-grade retelling with light romance, then this is the book for you.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
“Oh! I don’t think I would like to catch a sensible man. I shouldn’t know what to talk to him about.”— Oscar Wilde
The Importance of Being Earnest is a laugh-out-loud rollicking story about two men who try to shirk their responsibilities by taking on the fake name of “Ernest,” in the country and the city.
The two men are Jack and Algernon, friends who rival each other in their quest to avoid being tied down by bothersome relatives and their even more bothersome expectations. The general gist of the story is thus:
Jack, who has been hanging about town under the pseudonym “Ernest,” is in love with Algie’s cousin, Gwendolen. But Gwendolen’s overbearing mother refuses to allow her daughter to marry someone with an unknown parentage and background. Meanwhile, Jack has a young ward, the imaginative Cecily, whose gift to her “Uncle Jack” reveals his true name to the mischievous Algie, who promptly heads to the country to win over young Cecily, using the identity of Jacks’ nonexistent “black sheep brother Ernest.”
Hilarity ensues as the two men, both using the name Ernest, create confusion and wreak havoc when Gwendolen goes to the country to find that “her Ernest” has been claimed by the pretty Cecily. Then, of course, there’s a final convenient plot twist that ties everything together in a funny yet satisfying fashion in a true comedy style. Try the book (well, play), and then watch the movie, both are fantastic 🙂
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Schaffer & Annie Barrows
“Think of it! We could have gone on longing for one another and pretending not to notice forever. This obsession with dignity can ruin your life if you let it.” — Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a mouthful to say. And I must confess, the unwieldy title and underwhelming cover made me reluctant to pick this book up. But one day, for some odd reason, I decided to take the plunge, and I’m so glad I did!
Written as an epistolary novel (the story is told via letters between the characters), Guernsey is set in postwar London and tells the story of a happy-go-lucky young female writer named Juliet who discovers a letter from stranger, a man who lives on the island of Guernsey.
As she corresponds with him and the other residents, she discovers a mystery related to the recent war on the island and eventually decides to visit her friends on the island, where her life changes forever…
This book gave me mixed feelings, though more positive than not. I loved Juliet’s plucky character and writing style, and the epistolary format of the book. But for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to care for the Very Important Character That All the Other Characters Like Who Disappears Before the Story Starts.
She’s supposed to be similar to Juliet in personality, but I just couldn’t get over some of the decisions she made. Which is a pity, because she’s supposed to be important, and all that.
Ah well, no matter. The main character and the way the light romance is handled was delightful, and this book is still worth a read!
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