Divine madness

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”… His sense of her inferiority — of its being a degradation — of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth and although Jane Austen did not write romance, either by the standards of her time or ours, it has, I think the essence of what makes a romance work: that falling in love with this particular person is the worst possible thing that could happen. Love destroys and creates chaos; you can’t help yourself; you are powerless and there is no twelve-step group that can possibly help.

I’ve always been fascinated by classical legends that have randy gods taking on nonhuman forms to seduce hapless mortals. Why bother with the disguise?–you’re a god, right? But is the disguise, other than the frisson of assuming another form, part of the divine insanity of love? I couldn’t help it, I was a swan with a brain the size of a walnut … One look at his lovely orange beak, that’s all it took …

My heroes and heroines find that their careful, sensible plans are overturned and their moral code and sense go out the window when they fall in love. Love = trouble, conflict, and after many adventures (a very useful phrase for synopses, by the way), acceptance of love and of each other.

What’s your definition of love in romance? Is it all you need?

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