2021-02-13 10:09:49 | The best books to read on Valentine’s Day, as chosen by The Telegraph’s arts editors


Story by: Telegraph reporters The Telegraph

Marital love, forbidden love, parental love and love that’s both deranged and beautiful: the Telegraph arts editors have curated their favourite meditations on passion, infatuation, family and friendship.

Just don’t quote us in any of your Valentine’s Day cards, please…

Poor Things (1992) by Alasdair Gray

A “perfect woman” is assembled from parts in 19th-century Glasgow, then flees her betrothed and takes on the world. A wildly sexy, thrillingly political Frankenstein pastiche which leaves no shade of masculinity unskewered. Robbie Collin

Estudios Sobre el Amor (Studies On Love, 1939) by José Ortega y Gasset

I love the great Spanish philosopher’s book on love, even though I often disagree with it. Estudios Sobre el Amor offers so many shrewd angles on this wonderful, many-hued thing, all with a certain Spanish swagger. It comes from the same culture that gave us the matador and the mysterious black-eyed beauty on the balcony half-hidden by a mantilla.  Ivan Hewett

L’Amant (The Lover, 1992) by Marguerite Duras

Duras’s burning autobiographical novel sees her 15-year-old self fall in love with a 27-year-old Chinese-Vietnamese businessman while living with her impoverished family in Saigon, in French Indochina, during the 1930s. It’s a painful and uncomfortable story of love: the relationship is clandestine, for Duras is underage, and we’re never fully sure if Duras is in the relationship for financial reasons, for the thrill of her first sexual awakening, or for love. While Duras presents her heroine with little empathy – I find her cruel and cold – most will relate to the the tangled frustration, dead ends and desperation that accompany most toxic relationships. Eleanor Halls

Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The title is a lie: Elizabeth Barrett Browning was too shy to publish these wonderful love-poems for her husband Robert Browning as her own work, so pretended they were translations. At just 44 sonnets, it’s short enough to read cover-to-cover in the bath (either alone, or with your loved one if you’re feeling especially amorous). All together now: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”  Tristram Fane Saunders

A Handful of Dust (1934) by Evelyn Waugh

It’s a truism that love can drive you mad, but few vignettes bring this home with such a bleak punch as the famous scene in Waugh’s 1934 novel when Lady Brenda Last, who is having a supposedly casual fling with John Beaver, a younger man she knows to be second-rate, hears over the telephone that “John” has died in an accident. When she realises that it’s her infant son, not Beaver, who has died, Brenda says: “John… John Andrew… I… Oh, thank God.” Love conquers all, but here it’s not a good thing. Iona McLaren


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Source References: The Telegraph
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