Last weekend, my husband and I hosted our annual Valentine’s Day party. This was the first year when my darling son could attend (him being currently nine months old) and even though he went to bed before the party had hit its apex, I think it’s safe to say everybody had a good time.
I started throwing these parties as small dinner parties the year we had my “fake kid” living with us, because I wanted to do some family-style activities and she had recently been through a breakup. My parents had always made sure to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day about everyone you love–not just romantic partners–and even after I graduated from college I would occasionally get a package of conversation hearts in the mail from them.
This year’s was bittersweet too, because it was my mother’s first Valentine’s Day as a widow–and their wedding anniversary is Feb. 15th, so it’s an emotional minefield for me this year. (She’s a very cool lady, and came out to spend the weekend with us, keeping the baby distracted while we cleaned house for the party.)
So, I’ve been thinking about different kinds of love as portrayed in literature. I think most frequently we see romantic love, even if we can’t always agree on what that looks like. But there are so many other great kinds of love–why don’t we see more of those?
Some of my favorite non-romantic fictional loves, in no particular order…
- Temeraire and Will Laurence, from Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series.
What a lovely example of a loving relationship–it’s almost filial, except for the whole one-of-them-is-a-dragon thing. Captain Will Laurence and Temeraire are two of my favorite fictional characters, so I guess it’s not a shock that their love is one of my favorite non-romantic loves. I especially appreciate the way Novik develops, tests, and strengthens their relationship through the plots and subplots of the Temeraire novels. (Fan art by the immensely talented Todd Lockwood.)
- Keladry of Mindelan and Nealan of Queenscove, from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series.
It’s really REALLY hard to pick just one of the many non-romantic loving relationships Pierce has created–building friendship is one of her main themes, and her characters often start as friends before a romance blossoms, break up and remain friends, or–get this–date, love, or have a physical relationship with more than one person before finding a partner. This is, in my reading experience, pretty rare. Pierce does this often enough that I decided to just go with one of my favorite pairs, in which Neal’s very verbal and Kel plays the “straight man” more often than not. Even when Kel realizes her crush on Neal is going nowhere, she still loves him–as a friend–and ends her series still single, although Neal’s hot cousin Dom (who clearly likes and respects Kel as a fighter and leader) is lurking around being a romantic possibility. (Fanart by minuiko)
- The whole main cast of Burn Notice. I read a novelization of this show once; does that make it literary? Wait, wait, I only said “Fictional,” not literary… Anyway, this and Leverage both do a great job of building an ensemble community. Oh, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Chuck, which I’m still watching even though it’s been over for years so NO SPOILERS but I’m in season 4 and I’m so impressed by the relationship arcs. Similar things happen in shows like Archer, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, and, on the opposite end, Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad and Jessica Jones. And–
Okay, okay, I’ve gone way past my allotted time for this entry. But I’m glad I got to spend some time thinking about my favorite non-romantic love relationships. Hopefully I can get some tips on how to integrate these kinds of strong relationships into my own writing. At least, that’s what I can pretend I’m doing while I’m binge-watching 30 Rock for the 47th time… right??
I’m sure there are lots of other good non-romantic loves out there. What are some of your favorites?