The Greatest Love Story Ever Told – as voted by you

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone from Booktopia.

To celebrate we’ve been counting down the 50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told, as voted by you.

Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom to see the huge sales and collections of books on love we have for you.

But here it is. The 10 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told, as voted by you.

10. Gone with the Wind

Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time.

Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as “Gone With the Wind” does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives.

In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.

Click here to buy Gone with the Wind

9. The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything.

But one thing will always be out of his reach…

Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character.

For Gatsby – young, handsome, fabulously rich – always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled.

And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

Click here to buy The Great Gatsby

8. Atonement

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen- year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.

By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl’s imagination.

Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

Click here to buy Atonement

7. Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights has achieved an almost mythical status as a love story, yet it is also a unique masterpiece of the imagination: an unsettling, transgressive novel about obsession, violence and death.

It begins as a man is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house on the Yorkshire moors during a snowstorm. There he discovers the tempestuous events that took place there years before: the intense love between Catherine Earnshaw and the foundling Heathcliff, her betrayal of him and how his terrible revenge continues to haunt the present.

Click here to buy Wuthering Heights

6. Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is just one of the short stories to be found in this haunting collection of Wyoming tales, set in the beautiful, wild landscape of Wyoming where cowboys live as they have done for generations.

Hard, lonely lives in unforgiving country. Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar are two ranch hands, glad to have found each others company where none had been expected. But companionship becomes something else on Brokeback Mountain, something not looked for – an intimacy neither can forget.

Brokeback Mountain was famously made into an Academy Award-winning film by Ang Lee, and starred Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.

Click here to buy Brokeback Mountain

5. The Time Traveler’s Wife

This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty.

Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are alternately harrowing and amusing.

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s passionate love for each other with grace and humour. Their struggle to lead normal lives in the face of a force they can neither prevent nor control is intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

Click here to buy The Time Traveler’s Wife

4. Romeo and Juliet

‘Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!

For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’

One of the greatest love stories ever told, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet continues to touch modern audiences with its passionate depiction of the tragic romance between two young lovers.

With a bitter feud between their respective families, Romeo and Juliet’s love is troubled from the start, and through their relationship, Shakespeare shows the fine line between love, hatred, comedy and tragedy.

Click here to buy Romeo and Juliet

3. The Notebook

Set amid the austere beauty of coastal North Carolina in 1946, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, 31, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met 14 years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once more.

Allie Nelson, 29, is now engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes.

The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all.

Click here to buy The Notebook

2. Jane Eyre

‘The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself’

Rejected by her guardians and offered cold charity at an orphanage, Jane Eyre has come to rely on her own intelligence and strength of character to guide her through life.

But when she becomes governess at Thornfield Hall, working for the gruff Mr Rochester, she finds a man who may be her equal – and a secret that threatens to destroy them both.

Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, Jane Eyre enthralled and appalled readers with its passionate, defiant heroine. It remains a novel of unparalleled narrative grip, vivid imagery and naked emotional power.

Click here to buy Jane Eyre

1. Pride and Prejudice

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’

Austen’s best-loved tale of love, marriage and society in class-conscious Georgian England still delights modern readers today with its comedy and characters.

When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever.

In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships,gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

Click here to buy Pride and Prejudice

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the search for The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. We’ll have a recap of the full list up tomorrow.

Don’t forget to check out our great offers for this month, both on Lavish Love, and our Valentine’s Day celebration specials.

All this month we’re featuring the Love in Print at Booktopia. Click on the banner below to see the huge range of books on love we’re featuring all this month at Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore.

Why stop at Coke bottles? Let’s print personalised editions of the literary classics…

Over the weekend while I was doing the weekly shop I found Mr Thirteen buried in a fridge digging for a Coke bottle with his name on it. His name wasn’t there. He was so annoyed he bought one which said Giulia, because he didn’t believe it was a real name. This morning I arrived at work to find a colleague of mine drinking from a bottle of Coca-Cola which had her name printed in bold on the label. My colleague doesn’t even like Coke. But there she was drinking ‘her’ bottle down.

Putting first names on Coke bottles. This has to be one of the best marketing ploys of all time.

So I began to think. If personalisation can get people drinking Coke why wouldn’t it work just as well with the classics? I mean, imagine being able to give your son a personalised edition of David Copperfield by Dickens.  Every time the name David Copperfield is used, on the cover and throughout the text, it  would be replaced by the name of your son, Harry Kleinen Schwanz. He’d love it. Right?

You want to give your daughter a copy of Jane Eyre but think she won’t relate to a nineteenth century text. Strike out every mention of Jane Eyre and insert your daughter’s name, Brittney Offenebeine.

Narcissistic teens worldwide will lap this up.

As we have already desecrated the work of Jane Austen by including Zombies, why not take it one step further? This is a democracy, ain’t it? Why stop at Coke bottles? We should all have a classic named after us.

I think I will start with The Picture Of Dorian Gray – find and replace Dorian Gray – The Picture of John Purcell. Ahh, much better. Why have I chosen this book? See below… Continue reading

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë : Australian fans await new film.

The new film of Jane Eyre is being released in Australia on 11th August 2011 

In a bold new feature version of Jane Eyre, director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre) and screenwriter Moira Buffini (Tamara Drewe) infuse a contemporary immediacy into Charlotte Brontë’s timeless, classic story. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) star in the iconic lead roles of the romantic drama, the heroine of which continues to inspire new generations of devoted readers and viewers.

In the 19th Century-set story, Jane Eyre (played by Ms. Wasikowska) suddenly flees Thornfield Hall, the vast and isolated estate where she works as a governess for Adèle Varens, a child under the custody of Thornfield’s brooding master, Edward Rochester (Mr. Fassbender). The imposing residence – and Rochester’s own imposing nature – have sorely tested her resilience. With nowhere else to go, she is extended a helping hand by clergyman St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell of Focus Features’ The Eagle) and his family. As she recuperates in the Rivers’ Moor House and looks back upon the tumultuous events that led to her escape, Jane wonders if the past is ever truly past…

Aged 10, the orphaned Jane (played by Amelia Clarkson) is mistreated and then cast out of her childhood home Gateshead by her cruel aunt, Mrs. Reed (Golden Globe Award winner Sally Hawkins). Consigned to the charity school Lowood, Jane encounters further harsh treatment but receives an education and meets Helen Burns (Freya Parks), a poor child who impresses Jane as a soulful and contented person. The two become firm friends. When Helen falls fatally ill, the loss devastates Jane, yet strengthens her resolve to stand up for herself and make the just choices in life.

As a teenager, Jane arrives at Thornfield. She is treated with kindness and respect by housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax (Academy Award winner Judi Dench). Jane’s interest is piqued by Rochester, who engages her in games of wit and storytelling, and divulges to her some of his innermost thoughts. But his dark moods are troubling to Jane, as are strange goings-on in the house – especially the off-limits attic. She dares to intuit a deep connection with Rochester, and she is not wrong; but once she uncovers the terrible secret that he had hoped to hide from her forever, she flees, finding a home with the Rivers family. When St. John Rivers makes Jane a surprising proposal, she realizes that she must return to Thornfield – to secure her own future and finally, to conquer what haunts both her and Rochester.

Apparently it was a book first:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Orphaned Jane Eyre grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, where she endures loneliness and cruelty, and at a charity school with a harsh regime.

This troubled childhood strengthens Jane’s natural independence and spirit – which prove necessary when she finds a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving the man she loves?

A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre (1847) dazzled and shocked readers with its passionate depiction of a woman’s search for equality and freedom.

Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine-one whose virtuous integrity, keen intellect, and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved.

Hailed by William Makepeace Thackeray as ‘The Masterwork of a Great Genius,’ Jane Eyre is still regarded, over a century later, as one of the finest novels in English Literature.

About the Author

Charlotte Bronte was born at Thornton, Yorkshire, in 1816. Her mother died in 1821, and Charlotte, her four sisters, Maria, Elizabeth, Emily and Anne, and her brother Branwell were left in the care of their aunt, Elizabeth Branwell. Left to pursue their education mainly at home, all the Bronte children became involved in a rich fantasy life and Charlotte and Branwell collaborated in the invention of the imaginary kingdom of Angria.

In 1824 Charlotte went with Maria, Elizabeth and Emily to a school for daughters of the clergy; her experiences there are fictionalized in the Lowood section of Jane Eyre (1847; written under the pseudonym of Cutter Bell). She wrote three other novels, Shirley (1849) Villette (1853) and The Professor (published posthumously in 1857). She also made occasional visits to London where she became known to various writers, including William Thackeray and Elizabeth Gaskell. In 1854 Charlotte finally overcame her father’s objections and married, but unfortunately she was to die in the following year.

Kylie Ladd, author of Last Summer, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kylie Ladd

author of Last Summer and After the Fall

Six Sharp Questions


1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Last Summer is about what happens to a close group of friends when the man at their centre, Rory Buchanan, dies unexpectedly… it’s about loss and grief and desire and, uh, cricket. As I was writing it, it also occurred to me that Last Summer is about mid-life, about coming to terms with who you are and the choices you’ve made, though I do fear that describing it as a book about middle-aged cricketers is going to have readers expecting Warwick Todd’s Ashes diary.

If so, I’m afraid they’ll be disappointed. Last Summer is dedicated to Geoff Williams, one of my husband’s closest mates, who died unexpectedly at the age of only 39. The novel is a work of fiction- as far as I know, none of the Continue reading

Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Meg Cabot

author of Abandon, The Princess Diaries and many more…

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in In Bloomington, Indiana, which is where I was raised and attended school. I went to college at Indiana University in Bloomington, where I earned a degree in Studio Arts (with a concentration on illustration).

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve, I wanted to be an artist and an illustrator. I was always drawing in my notebooks when I was supposed to be studying Algebra. I illustrated all the books and stories I loved as kid including fairy tales and stories about princesses.

You can see some of my drawings here

and here

As it happens, I also drew a lot of scenes from the Myth of Persephone. I loved the idea of Hades, the King of gods, falling so deeply in love with Persephone, the daughter of the Goddess of the seasons, that he abducted her and took her down to the Underworld. That’s why I’m really excited to have a book coming out in April that is a retelling of the myth that captivated me years ago.

When I was eighteen, I wanted to be a writer. I always loved writing, and I thought about studying Creative Writing at Indiana University. But I met a random guy at a party I went to in high school who told me not to study creative writing because in his opinion studying creative writing as a major sucks the love of writing out of you (he was a creative writing major, so he said he would know). I did not want the love of writing sucked out of me, so I followed his advice (however, I did take a few creative writing workshops at IU and I enjoyed them very much). Instead, I had the love of art sucked out of me by majoring in art. Years later I met that guy from the party again in New York City where I moved after college to be an illustrator, and we got married.

At age 30, I had published my first book called Where Roses Grow Wild (under the name Patricia Cabot) so I wanted to write more books. And I did! I still feel so lucky to be able to do what I love everyday.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

When I was eighteen I believed strongly that writing comes from inspiration. I thought you just got a good idea and wrote it down and – voila! – you were a writer. But the more wrote, the more I know now that writing is also really hard work. You have to do it even when you’re not inspired. In fact, inspiration is really rare, and if writers only worked when we had it, we’d all starve to death.

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

When I was a kid, I read far too many books for me to mention that effected me. Some of what I read included a lot of fantasy, such as Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series and the Lloyd Alexander Prydain Chronicles. I really loved some classics, too, like A Wrinkle in Time, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Lorna Doone, and the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. And I am a big fan of Mary Stewart, especially Nine Coaches Waiting, Madame, Will You Talk? and Thornyhold. I would say those books had a big influence on me and still do.

I know this probably doesn’t count as art, but I think it should: I really loved STAR WARS comic books. I don’t like it when people dismiss graphic art and illustration as not art. As an illustrator, I know what a profound influence drawings can have on people. I studied art history, so I certainly have favorite classical artists, too, like Ingres and Manet. But to me, it always goes back to STAR WARS (the original, NOT the ones with Jar Jar Binks).

I am more a narrative, visual person than a music person, so it’s better not to ask me about music.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Sometimes you have a story to tell that can only be told in that narrative format. It can’t be drawn or filmed, only written, and it needs to be novel length. A friend described it as a shark biting you, and it won’t let go until the story is written down. It’s pretty much like that.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

In my new novel, Abandon, coming out in May, Pierce is a heroine unlike all my others. She’s been through a lot, even though she’s only seventeen. She’s already died (and been revived), but she can never forget what she saw during the short time she was dead — and of course no one believes her.

Now she’s got to face life after death. But she soon learns it’s not as easy to start over as she had hoped, especially since the mysterious stranger that she met while she was dead — John Hayden — won’t seem to let her.

Pierce thinks she knows who John is and what he wants . . . and it isn’t something she’s ready to give him.

But she’s still drawn to him in a way she can’t understand.

And that might be what scares her most of all.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope they fall in love with the characters, flaws and all!

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Oh, whoa. I admire way too many authors to list here. I hesitate to list my favorites because I know I’ll leave someone important out! I love mysteries of all kinds, chick-lit, memoirs, fantasies . . . and I also love to read blogs and magazines of virtually every kind there is. I also read YA! I think anyone who’s written a book—or even an article—is amazing. I know how hard writing is.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I want to keep giving my awesome readers books that they want to read. If I can do that, then I will be happy.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Really, it is the same advice I have been giving them for years, but it hasn’t changed much:

–The best piece of writing advice I ever got is to try to keep quiet, listen only, and let other people to do the talking. You’ll be surprised how much this will improve your writing skills (and how many people will think you’re a really sage person, when all you’re basically doing is spying on them).

–Do not take rejection personally!

–If you are blocked on a story, there is probably something wrong with it. Take a few days off and put the story on a back burner for a while. Eventually, it will come to you.

–Read-and write-all the time. Never stop sending out your stuff. Don’t wait for a response after sending a story out…start a new story right away, and then send that one out! If you are constantly writing and sending stuff out (don’t forget to live your life, too, while you are doing this) eventually someone will bite!

–Write the kinds of stories you like to read. If you don’t love what you’re writing, no one else will, either.

Good luck, and keep writing! If I can do it, so can you!

Meg, thank you for playing.


What our customers think of Popular Penguins

One week down and three weeks to go in our fantastic Popular Penguin promotion and up for grabs are four Popular Penguin libraries. Yep, one set of 20 books of your choice are going off each week.

All the details are here. It is not too late to enter the competition.

Meanwhile, here are some comments from  some of our entrants so far. Having read through all of their wishlists, I reckon I should be curled up with one of those orange and cream beauties rather than writing this now! What a way to whet my appetite!

So the question Booktopia readers were asked was “which Popular Penguin book are you most looking forward to reading?” Continue reading

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Shades of Grey We are drifting very slowly but evermore surely toward total annihilation – be it by climate change, terrorism, pandemic, meteor or reality TV.

If you’re anything like me, that is, if you desire to prevent or at least postpone the end of the world but do not have the requisite level of enthusiasm for the human race to enable you to do so, you’ve probably got plenty of time to kill before… well… before we’re all killed.

This gives us ample time to consider how we might face our end. Hmmm…

The biggest problem I have with the end of the world is not its actually happening so much – it’s probably the biggest thing that will happen in my lifetime – no, the problem I have is the feeling that if I go to the loo, or look down at the crossword, or duck out for takeaway, I’ll miss it.

The result is a kind of embarrassed paralysis.

Admittedly, this is no way to live or die.

Apparently paralysis is only one of the many options we have when facing certain death – fight and flight are the two most popular options.

Looking down the full list of options – wetting one’s pants, screaming like a baby girl, hiding under the doona, pretending you’re already dead – I was surprised to find – Laughter.

But then I remembered the phrase – to laugh in the face of death.the big over easy

And I was sold. That would be cool.

Nevertheless, when facing death, not to mention total annihilation of the species, unless you are Clint Eastwood, it is hard to laugh – it’s hard to crack a smile.

Thankfully, this end of the world thing is really slow in coming.

So slow, in fact, we all have time to buy a copy of Jasper Fforde’s new novel Shades of Grey 1: The Road to High Saffron. (Read the review by Booktopia’s Richard Bilkey)

When the end of the world comes I will not wet my pants… Thanks to Jasper Fforde, I will face the end laughing.

the eyre affairlost in a good bookwell of lost plotssomething rottenfirst among sequels

I’ll end this post with a song – an’ a one, an’ a two…

The End of the World

By Bob Geldof

Though it strikes you as seeming a little absurd
I’m here to announce the end of the world
It’ll happen sometime between now and high noon
It doesn’t give you much time as it’s happening real soon
It’ll start with a whimper, it’ll end with a bang
It’ll leave a big hole where we could have sang

This is the end
The end of the world
For five thousand years
You must surely have heard
Nostradamus and Jesus and Buddha and Me
We said it was coming
Now just wait and see

So everyone outside look up at the sky
It’s the last time you’ll see it so wave it goodbye
You took it for granted you thought it was free
Say goodbye to the leaves, the trees, and the sea
There’s nothing more useless than a car that won’t start
But it’s even more useless at the end of the world


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