Best books about first love

Featuring Bernhard Schlink, Ian McEwan, Patti Smith, Rainbow Rowell and Sarah Waters

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Best books about first love

Whether you're single or shacked-up this Valentine’s Day, take a moment to reminisce about some literary romances – both the good and the bad

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
Teenage misfits Eleanor and Park discover that they fit one another just fine. Set aside a few hours, curl up with this young adult novel, and try not to shed a wee tear at the end.

Just Kids – Patti Smith
In 1970s New York, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe are not yet the High Priestess of Punk and a world-famous photographer – they’re just two wannabe artists trying to make their way. A glorious trip through an intense, platonic love affair.

The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan
Not all first loves are sweet, as this grotesque and claustrophobic novel shows. When their parents die, four children are left to fend for themselves. Rather than give themselves up to the authorities, they hide their parents’ deaths. Time passes, with each of the children dealing with the loss in their own complex way. But soon the eldest daughter’s boyfriend is asking questions …

The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
Fifteen-year-old Michael is rescued and seduced by older woman Hanna – only for her to disappear. When Michael next sees Hanna, he is a law student and she is on trial for a hideous crime. Love, horror and dark secrets unfold against the backdrop of post-war Germany.

Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
When oyster-shucker’s daughter Nancy Astley meets male impersonator Miss Kitty Butler, it’s love – or at least lust – at first sight. Through all her adventures in gender-bending and vaudeville in Victorian London, Nan never quite gets over the sensual and heart-breaking Kitty.

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