Are you a fan of romance novels? If so, this list is for you. This is a list of some of the best romance novels of all time.
Romance is a genre that encompasses several subgenres, including historical romance, sports romance, paranormal and contemporary. But what makes a book good? What qualifies it as a great read? If you’re looking for an answer to these questions—and who isn’t?—you’ve come to the right place! In this list of all-time greatest romances ever written (according to me), I’ve included some of my favorites and also popular classics that have stood the test of time (and been around long enough for us to read). So go ahead—take a gander at the list below and see if one piques your interest!
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a classic romance novel. It tells the story of Henry and Clare, who meet in their teens and fall in love despite the fact that he is a time traveler. The novel explores how their relationship unfolds as they navigate changes in not only themselves, but also their families, friends and society at large.
The novel was made into a movie starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams in 2009; however, it’s still worth reading the book because it has so many more details than any screenplay could ever include—and those extra details are what make this story so special! You’ll find yourself transported back to your own youth as you follow these characters through good times and bad (and maybe even some awkward moments). Plus there are plenty of twists along the way that will keep you guessing until the end!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This is a classic romance novel, because it’s about a woman searching for independence, love and her own identity. The story follows Jane Eyre as she begins working as a governess at Mr Rochester’s house. At first glance, Rochester seems like an incredibly disagreeable man but this changes as the story progresses. The book shows how their relationship develops over time and there are many twists to keep you interested in what happens next.
This novel was written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847 when women had very few rights and were expected to do what they were told by their parents or husbands without question. It was also unusual for women to be educated at this time so Jane Eyre must have been very independent indeed!
The book draws on several themes common in literature during the Romantic period: it contains elements of gothic fiction; social criticism and morality tales such as guilt or innocence; identity formation including authenticity through self-knowledge; romance between characters who are not formally equal partners; hidden wealth or poverty revealed through chance encounters; fate versus free will.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Outlander is a historical fiction novel written by Diana Gabaldon. The series has grown to encompass eight books, and has been adapted into both a television series and film.
The first book in the series, Outlander follows Claire Randall as she travels through time from 1945 Scotland to 1743 Highland Scotland. There she meets Jamie MacTavish (later James Fraser), who becomes her husband and partner in adventures all over Europe.
While it may sound like an unusual premise for a romance novel, Outlander is nothing if not romantic—the story follows Claire’s relationship with Jamie through thick and thin, across decades and continents, bringing them closer together than either ever thought possible.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England.
Pride and Prejudice is a classic love story. It has everything you could want in a book: drama, romance, comedy and an unexpected happy ending. This is definitely one of the most romantic books of all time for women because it explores how women were treated during this time period—they were often seen as second-class citizens compared to men. The book also helps show that even though men may be superior in society, they are not always the more intelligent gender!
Pride and Prejudice is considered to be among the best-written novels in English literature. It has inspired many adaptations including a popular film by Joe Wright (2005) starring Keira Knightley as Lizzie Bennet; three television series; and many sequels, prequels, and imitators.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks is a romantic novel about Noah Calhoun, a poor boy who falls in love with Allie Nelson, a rich girl. They are young and have their whole lives ahead of them but World War II intervenes. The story follows their journey through life as they try to keep their love alive despite the challenges they face. This book is one of the most popular romantic novels ever written and is currently ranked number 3 on Amazon’s list of Most Popular Romance Books. It has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1996.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is set in the 1930s and 1940s in Kyoto, Japan. The main character is a young girl named Chiyo Sakamoto. She’s sold to a geisha house by her father when he goes bankrupt after losing his job as a teacher. In this novel, you get to learn about all of the hardships that Chiyo endures while she’s growing up and trying to become one of the most successful geishas in all of Japan.
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks was the first novel he ever wrote, and it’s about a preacher’s daughter who falls in love with a bad boy. The book was made into a movie in 2002, which is notable because it was his first novel to be turned into a film. It also became one of his bestsellers.
It has since been turned into a musical and a play, making it one of the most popular stories from this author’s collection.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
This is a sweeping romance set in Australia. It’s based on a true story, so you know it’s going to be good! The main character is a Catholic priest who falls in love with three different women over the course of his life: one who becomes his sister-in-law; one who works for him as a servant; and another who eventually becomes his wife. Sounds like lots of drama, right? That’s what I thought too—and it doesn’t disappoint!
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Gone with the Wind is a romantic historical novel set in the American South during and after the Civil War. It tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a daughter of wealth and privilege, who struggles to find her place and happiness in a world that’s been turned upside down. The novel was published in 1936, as part of an effort by Mitchell to write something that would make her some money. She spent seven years writing Gone with the Wind and it was an instant smash hit—the kind of book that everyone talks about for months after reading it (like Harry Potter), even before she’d put any marketing effort behind promoting it—but Mitchell never found fame or fortune because she refused to sell movie rights for fear of how Hollywood would ruin her story.
The book is considered one of the best romantic books ever written, due in part to its strong female lead character. Readers were so taken with Scarlett’s strength that they often wondered if there was any truth behind these tales—and it turns out there are some similarities between her story and its author’s life.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
If you’re looking for a love story that’s as epic and complicated as it is bittersweet, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez will hit all the right notes. Set in Colombia during the early 20th century, this novel follows Florentino Ariza as he pines for Fermina Daza after she marries another man and then suffers through life-threatening illness with him.
Love in the Time of Cholera explores themes like unrequited love and the nature of relationships between men and women over time. It’s clear that there are many differences between us humans (race, wealth), but one thing we can all relate to is how our hearts get broken sometimes—and how we can make them whole again with time, patience and forgiveness.
Garcia Márquez’s historical fiction novel was written using fluid prose that has won him praise. The story follows a young man who meets a young woman while they are both still children, then follows them through several decades as they fall in love with each other, marry other people, suffer from separation and loss, only to find themselves reunited again towards the end.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina is a classic Russian novel written by Leo Tolstoy. It is considered one of the world’s greatest novels, and it tells the story of Anna Karenina, an upper class woman who falls in love with another man. The first part was published in serial form between 1873 and 1877; after Tolstoy’s death in 1910, his friend Alexey Suvorin completed it for publication as a single novel (in only six months). Anna Karenina has been adapted numerous times for film and television; there have also been musicals based on the book.
If you’re looking for a classic romance novel, look no further than Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The novel follows the doomed love affair between Anna and Vronsky that begins when they meet on a train in Russia. The story is set in the 1870s and follows them through their scandalous affair and its end at the hands of their peers.
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
The Bridges of Madison County is a 1992 romance novel by Robert James Waller. The novel is set in Madison County, Iowa and tells the story of Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer, who becomes obsessed with Francesca Johnson, a farm wife. Their relationship is based on two days together which are stretched into an entire week through flashbacks and fantasy sequences.
The book was turned into a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep in 1995.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is one of the most romantic books ever written. It’s also a tragic love story and a story of revenge. The novel is about the turbulent and passionate love affair between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. The setting of this novel is at Wuthering Heights, a farm on a Yorkshire moors that is located near Liverpool. Emily Brontë published this book in 1847 and it was written in the form of a diary by Lockwood, the narrator who tells us about his visit to Wuthering Heights.
Heathcliff, an adopted child at Wuthering Heights grows up with Cathy Earnshaw (the daughter of Mr Earnshaw), their childhood friendship blossoms into love as they grow older. However, their relationship becomes complicated when Edgar Linton arrives at Wuthering Heights as he also has feelings for Cathy and she accepts him as her suitor instead of Heathcliff. This causes great resentment in Heathcliff which drives him to marry Isabella Linton (Edgar’s sister) solely because she reminds him of Catherine Earnshaw whom he still loves dearly despite having lost her twice now – once when they were young children while living together at Wuthering Heights then again when Edgar Linton came into their lives after Heathcliff got married first off to Frances Earnshaw (Catherine’s cousin).
This novel traces how intense passion can lead two people down different paths but that no matter how much time passes between them or what happens during those years apart – if ever – true love will always find its way back home again!
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet is a play by William Shakespeare, written in the late 16th century. It tells the story of two young lovers who come from two feuding families. The two young lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, fall in love at first sight when they meet at a masked ball. They decide to marry despite their family’s objections because they cannot bear to be apart from each other for any longer than necessary. However, their marriage does not go smoothly—it marks the start of an ongoing feud between their families that only ends with their deaths in a tragic double suicide.
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays; it has been performed countless times since its first performance around 1597 until today (more than 450 years later).
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in 1854. Set in the mid-19th century, it follows the lives of people from different social classes in northern England.
The book is notable for its realistic depiction of life for the working class: many of its characters are employed as factory workers and miners; other characters’ wealth allows them to avoid such work. The novel has also been described as one of the first novels to depict working class life in rural England during that time period.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
This is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne. Elinor is practical and level-headed while Marianne is romantic and all about love. After their father dies, they are forced to move in with their wealthy aunt and uncle until they can marry off one of their daughters.
This book follows their adventures as they try to find husbands for themselves, each other, or even just any man at all! If you’re looking for a light but still compelling romance novel that you can read on your lunch break at work or during your commute home from work—this one’s for you!
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
If you haven’t read The Princess Bride by William Goldman, what are you waiting for? It’s a hilarious story about a man named Westley who falls in love with his childhood sweetheart, Buttercup. However, fate intervenes and he is kidnapped by pirates. Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck but she still loves Westley and when he returns to rescue her they realize they were meant to be together.
This novel has been described as “The best book ever written” and “the most amazing book in the entire world”. It’s also become a cult classic movie starring Cary Elwes (as Westley) as well as Robin Wright and Mandy Patinkin who played Fezzik and Inigo Montoya respectively (two of my favorite characters). If you love romance novels or fairy tales then this is definitely one worth adding to your list!
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a romantic novel set in an English country estate. It was first published in 1938, and the story revolves around a young woman marrying her employer and settling into life as his second wife. After moving into Manderley, she begins to suspect that they’ve taken over the home of the first wife’s ghost, who isn’t ready to let go of her life at Manderley yet. This haunting presence turns Rebecca into a character study about identity, marriage, women’s roles during this time period, and more.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This book is about a woman named Lou who is hired to be a caretaker for the quadriplegic Will. The story follows them as they fall in love and come to terms with life’s challenges.
For those looking for an uplifting romance novel, this one’s for you. Me Before You is full of hilarious moments, tearjerking ones, and everything in between—all while exploring what it means to be alive when your body isn’t cooperating with your mind anymore.
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
This is a story about love, loss and the struggle to move on. It’s the story of a girl who is struggling to move on after her mother’s death.
The book will have you in tears at some point, but it’s worth reading because it teaches us that life can be hard and trying at times but there are always reasons for us to be happy about our lives too.
So there you have it, my list of the top romance novels of all time. I hope you enjoyed reading the list and maybe even picked up one or two books that you had never heard of before.
The most romantic book ever written? That’s for you to decide. For me, though, these 20 titles are a good starting point. Their stories are full of emotion and passion, and the characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them. Whether they make your list or not is up to personal preference—but they’re certainly worth checking out!
Reading is a great way to escape the world, and there are so many amazing books out there. Don’t forget: even though romance novels are fun, they can also inspire us with the power of love! So pick up a good romance today and let it take you away…