With Valentine’s Day (February 14) just around the corner, Diwan Bookstores and Al Kotob Khan provide us with their V-Day recommendations.
By Alia Ibrahim
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap.
A Woman of Cairo by Noel Barber
Son and daughter of diplomats in Cairo, the gentle Serena Pasha and Mark Holt are privileged and attractive, growing up in a magical world of champagne breakfasts and midnight picnics at the pyramids. Their lives entwined since childhood, they grow ever closer as adults. Yet Serena’s hand has been promised not to Mark, but to his brother, Greg. As World War II speeds closer to Cairo, a shocking accident gives these young lovers a second chance—but with this chance comes terrible danger.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs—yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
One Day by David Nicholls
It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.
PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. Until the unthinkable happens.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
At thirty-one, Noah Calhoun, back in coastal North Carolina after World War II, is haunted by images of the girl he lost more than a decade earlier. At twenty-nine, socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry a wealthy lawyer, but she cannot stop thinking about the boy who long ago stole her heart. Thus begins the story of a love so enduring and deep it can turn tragedy into triumph, and may even have the power to create a miracle.
Al Kotob Khan
Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes
Set in the sparkling — and serpentine — world of women’s fashion magazines, as well as the hilarious underground comedy club circuit, Sushi for Beginners is about searching for happiness. And how, if you let things bubble under the surface for too long, sooner or later they’ll boil over.
The Oligarch’s Wife by Anna Blundy
A wonderfully rich and vibrant novel that tells the story of one of Russia’s post-Communist Oligarchs and the two women who marry him, from impoverished boyhood, through unimaginable power and wealth, to the moment when he finally overreaches himself.
The Consequences of Love by Sulaiman Addonia
Under the hot sun, the Jeddah streets make a scene from an old black-and-white movie: the women dressed like long, dark shadows and the men in their light cotton tunics. Naser feels increasingly trapped, not least by the religious police who keep watch through the shaded windows of their government jeeps. A splash of color arrives in Naser’s world when, unexpectedly, a small piece of paper is dropped at his feet.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
This is an epic love story of two people of insight and imagination seeking escape from the cant and tyranny of their age. To the last detail of dress, idiom and manners, John Fowles immaculately recreates Victorian England in the greatest of his novels, which has been the subject of universal acclaim since its first publication.
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
Mary Barton is beautiful but has been born poor. Her father fights for the rights of his fellow workers, but Mary wants to make a better life for them both. She rashly decides to reject her lover Jem, a struggling engineer, in the hope of marrying the rich mill-owner’s son Henry Carson and securing a safe future. But when Henry is shot down in the street and Jem becomes the main suspect, Mary finds herself hopelessly torn between them.
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
One moment June Nealon was happily looking forward to years full of laughter and adventure with her family, and the next, she was staring into a future that was as empty as her heart. For Shay Bourne, life holds no more surprises. In a heartbeat, though, something happens that changes everything for him. Now, he has one last chance for salvation, and it lies with June’s eleven-year-old daughter, Claire. But between Shay and Claire stretches an ocean of bitter regrets, past crimes, and the rage of a mother who has lost her child.
Peony in Love by Lisa See
Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place–even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence, a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors offer guidance, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth. Immersed in the richness and magic of the Chinese vision of the afterlife, transcending even death, Peony in Love explores, beautifully, the many manifestations of love.
Clisson and Eugénie by Napoleon Bonaparte
In Napoleon Bonaparte’s novella, triumphant soldier Clisson turns his back on worldly success. He falls in love and marries Eugénie, and they live the simple life until Clisson is called back into battle. The tragic story of Clisson and Eugénie reveals that Napoleon was also an accomplished writer of fiction, and offers a fascinating insight into how he viewed love, women and military life.
Ishq and Mushq by Priya Basil
Set on an epic backdrop from Partition, the Coronation and Churchill’s funeral, to the present day, Priya Basil explores with compassion, the universal complexities of vanity and love. Her sensuous portrayal of the trials and tribulations of the Singh family carries universal truths for all of us.
Hebta by Mohamed Sadek
Despite the repetition of the stories of this world, everyone still makes the same mistakes, repeats the same events and suffers the same pain. During a six-hour lecture, Osama, the lecturer, takes us through rare cases. Though rare, you still find yourself in their world of love, hope and pain.
Al Aswad Yaliko Beki (Black Suits You) by Ahlam Mosteghanemi
The heroine is an Algerian singer whose father and brother were killed by terrorists and threatened her because she is a singer. She left Algeria with her Syrian mother for the Levant, and lived her life as an artist, but she continued to wear black and refused to change it.
The hero is Lebanese and very rich. He liked her loftiness, pride and dignity. He made her live the legendary love stories girls dream of. He was like a knight who took her on a journey through One Thousand and One Nights. Like a knight he also tried to tame her but was unable to control her with his money, which ma de him feel powerless in front of her and did not forgive her for that.
Qauaed Al Ishk Al Arbaeen (The Forty Rules of Love) by Elif Shafak
In this lyrical, exuberant follow-up to her 2007 novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives—one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz—that together incarnate the poet’s timeless message of love.
Al Hobb Fi Al Manfa (Love in Exile) by Bahaa Taher
In Love in Exile Bahaa Taher presents multilayered variations on the themes of exile, disillusionment, failed dreams and the redemptive power of love. Unwilling to recant his Nasserist beliefs, the unnamed narrator is an Egyptian journalist in a self-imposed exile in Europe after conflict with the management of his newspaper and a divorce from his wife. Absorbed in introspection over his impotent position at the paper and in ill health, he suddenly finds himself faced with two issues he cannot ignore: the escalating tensions in Israeli-occupied Lebanon and, more personally, an unexpected love affair with a much younger Austrian woman, Brigitte.
Ana Aashakt (I Loved) by Mohamed Al Mansi Kandil
On the station platform, Ward stood to say goodbye to her beloved Hassan. She stood there and didn’t move again. That stance pushed the protagonist to a journey from his small town to Cairo, which is boiling under oppression. Against his will, he abandons his innocence and enters its world that’s full of cruelty and struggle. He moves from the slums to Cairo’s luxurious suburbs whose inhabitants shelter behind walls, from university to the prisons crowded with all kinds of people like the stomach of a whale, watching how innocence dies and a person is crushed and the worst of him comes out. Could Ali hold on to the last breath of honesty?
Toya by Ashraf Al Ashmawy
Author, Ahraf Al Asmawy carries us on the wings of this novel, which he weaved with a soft rhythm, through a gentle love story that brings together its two protagonists who belong to two completely different worlds.
Bent w Walad (A Girl and A Boy) by Yasmin Khalifa
Karim moved closer to Soha and unintentionally his arm bumped into hers, she flinched and her body shook as if an electric current went through it. He almost apologized but she gave him a warm smile and he responded with a wider one. These smiles led to a surprising moment between them when the clock stopped ticking and the Earth stopped spinning. A moment where they looked at each other and saw their unborn children. A golden moment where happiness, inner peace and contentment mixed inside their hearts and the world seemed like a small piece of heaven. A moment that neither of them could express in words because it was indescribable, but Soha’s free, spontaneous laugh expressed its essence.