Typically, relationships follow a certain order: love, marriage, baby carriage (as the droll rhyme goes). But in Andy Jones’ debut novel, The Two of Us, two characters find that their road to love is anything but ordinary. After a blissful 19 days of dating, Ivy learns that she’s pregnant. She and Fisher decide to move in together and raise the baby, but things get complicated quickly. In honor of his unconventional love story, Jones has shared three of his favorites and what they teach readers about that crazy little thing called love.
Bookish has very kindly invited me to discuss unconventional love stories. There are many I could cover: Great Expectations, The Secret History, The Book of Illusions, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Casino Royale—someone’s in love with someone in all of ’em. But I’m going to focus on three of my personal favorites, so I guess I’d better cut to the kisses.
Gillian Flynn shows a sharp insight into the strange ways of relationships, and—bonkers or not—she created a great couple. The first few scenes of Gone Girl could be a great set-up for a romantic comedy. But Flynn takes Nick and Amy on an altogether more sinister ride. Amy gives Nick hell wrapped in a big pink bow, and he’s determined to return the favor. Yet after all of that, they still (kinda) choose each other. Extenuating circumstances aside—Nick hearts Amy and Amy hearts Nick.
Verdict: Love hurts.
Audrey Niffenegger didn’t miss a trick: She squeezed every drop of possibility from this wild premise, shocking, surprising, and baffling us with the temporal mechanics, whilst all the while maintaining a steady hand on the heart-aching love story. What a feat. The Time Traveller’s Wife is a work of literature, a work of art, and an act of love. It’s a beautiful love story wrapped up in and around a mind-mangler of a concept.
Verdict: The course of true love runs all over the place.
The subject of this piece is unconventional love stories. But I want to bend the rules a little. I want to talk about the love between a boy and his bear. It’s a pure, deep and abiding love, and A. A. Milne writes it with incredible restraint and lightness of touch (yes, I know, it’s a teddy bear!). Love doesn’t have to mean outrageous circumstances and extraordinary gestures. Sometimes it just is. Christopher Robin and Pooh are too young to understand or articulate their love—they just feel it. They know it. So much so that they are already afraid of losing it. I was so moved by the final lines, that I asked my mother to read them at my wedding.
“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little. “How old shall I be then?”
Pooh nodded. “I promise,” he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.
“Pooh,” said Christopher Robin earnestly, “if I— if I’m not quite” he stopped and tried again— “Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won’t you?”
“Oh, nothing.” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”
“Where?” said Pooh.
“Anywhere,” said Christopher Robin.
Verdict: Now that’s love.
Andy Jones lives in London with his wife and two little girls. During the day he works at an advertising agency; on weekends and horribly early in the mornings, he writes fiction.