True confession from Cat–I am just not as “literary” as some of you.
When I think of “romantic epic novel,” I think of curling up in a big comfy chair with a bag of something yummy (in my case, Cheetoes Puffs), with classical guitar music playing in the background, and losing myself as the heroine is swept up in adventures that take her all over the world in search of her true love. When I close the book, I’d better be sighing and maybe even crying! And the first thing I do is go online and look to see if there’s a sequel.
*Gone With The Wind *is definitely a standout in the genre.
If you haven’t read it, run to the store and buy Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. It’s extremely well-written, a literary triumph; I read at least one review that said “Pulitzer Prize material,” and I agree. It’s set in the world of the circus, and it’s gritty in places, including a masturbation scene. But I and my two daughters all loved the novel anyway, and after all, the world IS gritty. My older daughter read it at Barnes and Nobles, and sat and cried when she finished reading it, and people came up to her and asked if she was OK, and she showed them the novel, and they said that they had cried, too, when they read it. I cried. I want to see a MOVIE made from this novel!
ANYTHING by Victoria Holt!! These are the perfect romance novels because they aren’t “soft porn.” They are well-written, with good plots and strong characters, a little bit of history or culture, and the romance is passionate and stirring without titillating sex scenes.
I like a wonderful novel called Song of the Black Witch by Elisabeth Barr. Here is a link (to Ebay-sorry!): cgi.ebay.com/SONG-OF-BLACK-WITCH-Historical-Romance-Elisabeth-Barr_W0QQitemZ120280798901QQcmdZViewItem?IMSfp=TL08070815102r15919. I’ve read it dozens of times, and it gets better with every reading. Set in Wales, and takes you from the depths of poverty in the mining communities to the heights of wealth in the minister’s house. The heroine really does sing, but she’s definitely not a witch–that’s just what all her enemies call her. I wish there were a sequel.
I also like a novel called Mavreen by Claire Lorrimer. There are two sequels, but they are awful–very depressing. But the opening novel in the trilogy is so much fun–the heroine travels all over the world in search of Gerard, her lover. Just a little spicy in places, and the sex is extra-marital, so not something to read to the daughters.
One classic old-fashioned romance is the epic poem, “Evangeline” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It’s also a very Catholic poem. I really recommend it; it made my husband cry. Our daughter is named after the heroine. I would like to see a really good screenplay of this poem. This IS a good story to read to the daughters, and the sons.
And–I know this will sound terribly snotty and horn-tooting!–I have written a six-novel series for young teens that includes a wonderful epic romance between the adult characters. I personally love this epic! The hero spends three years wooing and almost losing and then winning and then losing and coming close to getting killed (several times) and then finally winning–we think–the woman he loves, against the backdrop of the ice skating rink and the world of synchronized skating.
There are also lots of “side romances” with all the other characters, including the teen characters, and several weddings and babies and a funeral and parties and travels and of course, lots and lots of skating. There’s even a “rich family who lives in a mansion up on the hill,” the classic formula for soap opera success! The novels take place in locations like North Carolina, Paris, Hollywood, Chicago, New Orleans, etc.
Two of the novels are out, the third will be out this summer. So far, many of my “fans,” especially the adults who read them, write and tell me that they have a major crush on the hero! (He’s impossibly cool and very Catholic–the best kind of hero!)