Unconventional Love Stories: From the Creepy to the Cute
1) The Graduate by Charles Webb
The ultimate tale of seduction and the origin of ‘Mrs Robinson’, The Graduate explores the compulsive and unpredictable sexuality of Benjamin Braddock: a restless, small-town twenty-something with buckets of potential to waste. Webb’s minimal narrative and unrelenting dialogue lends a certain urgency to the novel, and the subtext of identity crisis only adds to this. As he muddles his way through early adulthood, Benjamin stalks, exploits and pleads with two generations of Robinson women, until he has confused even himself. With its wildly unrealistic but distinctly moreish storyline, you will consume The Graduate with speed and incredulity.
2) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
In this novel, Ishiguro, who won the 2017 Nobel Prize for literature, creates an unnervingly relatable dystopia. The story revolves around the tenuous friendships of Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, all of whom study at ‘Hailsham’, a seemingly idyllic boarding school. With the rolling countryside and an extensive education, there are all the illusions of privilege, but these are swiftly shattered when the hierarchical nature of their society becomes clear. Their love triangle persists over several decades, as does their hope for a brighter future, but Never Let Me Go is a brutal portrayal of the human condition in those who are fated to live less than human lives.
3) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman, a 39-year-old genetics professor, is the unsuspecting hero of this novel. He is clever, well-spoken, painfully pedantic and totally incapable of compromise. He also has an undiagnosed autism-type developmental disability, which makes for a unique narrative, brimming with charm and frustration. When Don meets Rosie, a chaotic whirlwind of intrigue and charisma, he is forced to relinquish his life plan and join her in the search for her biological father. The Rosie Project is insightful, unexpected, and speaks to the importance of challenging ourselves for the sake of marvellously illogical love.
4) The Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
This neo-Victorian masterpiece is bursting with Dickensian themes; there’s madness, murder, and money- with a little lesbian libido thrown in for good measure. Our protagonist is the impoverished orphan Sue Trinder, enlisted by Richard ‘Gentleman’ Rivers as part of a ploy to burgle a wealthy heiress. As forbidden romance blooms behind closed doors, the ultimate plot-twist brews, and the narrative rapidly gains momentum. What with the seduction, betrayal and infinite layers of deception, you will gobble up The Fingersmith with insatiable curiosity.