It is no secret to anyone that cinema and literature are two genres that complement each other very well.
Although some readers are uncomfortable with the idea of their favorite books being adapted into movies, we must also recognize that many people want to see romantic movies based on books.
And, as you know, the success of a book can be measured in many ways. For some, record sales and translation into multiple languages are often the standards.
However, when a book is adapted into a movie, its commercial appeal grows overwhelmingly, especially if the adaptation also manages to wow fans of the big screen.
If you want to know the masterful narratives that became box office hits, take a look at the following romantic works.
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#1 Gone with the Wind
Written by Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind is one of the best-selling love books in history and a classic of American literature.
The novel has been labeled as a melodrama due to the historical events that give structure to the narration, as well as the eventful journey of its protagonists.
The film version of Mitchell’s novel was released in 1939 and was directed by Victor Fleming, who also directed The Wizard of Oz. Gone with the Wind won 8 of the 13 Oscars for which it was nominated.
The background setting of this story is the American Civil War: division, death, and desolation.
Amid the chaos, the love story between Rhett Butler, a handsome and wealthy soldier, and Scarlet O’ Hara, a beautiful young aristocrat from the south, is born.
Scarlett initially falls in love with Ashley Wilkes, a handsome heir from the same region. However, Wilkes would marry another girl.
Rhett Butler appears in this scenario to try to win over Scarlett, who is having a hard time getting over Wilkes.
The plot is woven by Rhett’s fight for Scarlett’s love and the tragedy that surrounds the characters’ families during the war.
The tension around the union of the protagonists is maintained until the end of the story. With a melancholic tone, the novel reveals the fall of the southern society of the United States before the Civil War.
#2 Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is the most important novel by author Jane Austen and one of the world’s first romantic comedies. More than a love book, this novel is an ode to individual development.
Jane Austen shows how relationships driven by money and love can be full of pettiness and promiscuity, but go unnoticed thanks to the protective cloak of bourgeois society.
It is a classic of literature that has been made into at least four film adaptations. The most successful rendition had its premiere in 2005.
Have you heard of love at first sight? Well, this book tells a different story.
It is set in rural England in the early 19th century, where families raised their daughters to find them a husband.
The protagonist is Elizabeth, a young woman with a strong, proud, and avant-garde personality who opposes this reality.
Her mother has raised her and her sister for that purpose. However, the arrival of two sought-after singles in the city changes the course of the story.
Fitzwilliam Darcy enters then to start a race for the love of Elizabeth, full of social challenges typical of the time. Without a doubt, a novel to appreciate the importance of love in complex times.
#3 Anna Karenina
The iconic Leo Tolstoy, a world-famous Russian novelist, is the author of this work. It is considered by many literary critics to be the greatest novel ever written.
The last film adaptation premiered in 2012, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. It won the Oscar for best costume design.
The story is based on an extramarital relationship between Anna and Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, a cavalry officer, which caused controversy in the society of Saint Petersburg during Imperial Russia.
The film version of the book was released in the UK in 2012 under the same name.
Due to their “impossible love”, the protagonists flee to Italy in search of tranquility to build their relationship, but they end up returning to Russia and their lives are affected even more.
The novel deals with themes such as family, marriage, faith, desire, the social circles of the time, and the contrast between rural and urban life.
The story is set amid liberal reforms proposed by Alexander II, the Russian Emperor.
In addition, it shows the changes that were reflected in society as a result of this government. The novel has also been adapted to other formats, such as television, cinema, theater, and ballet, among others.
#4 Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published in 1847 and is considered a classic of English-language literature, especially in the romance genre.
It is said to be an autobiographical work, as the plot is a reflection of her secret love for a professor.
Jane Eyre is a 2011 film directed by Cary Fukunaga. Upon release, it received a large number of positive reviews. You will realize that your feelings surface in some scenes.
Jane Eyre is the main character who tells us the story. At 10 years old, the orphan Eyre suffered countless humiliations from her aunt-in-law.
Her rebellious attitude leads her to be sent to a boarding school for girls. However, the principal takes a liking to the protagonist and helps make her long stay in the institution comfortable.
Eyre takes over the position of governess at Thornfield Hall after several years. There she must take over the owner’s daughter’s education.
Gradually, the love between them will be developing amid a serious secret. It is one of the pioneering works of the feminist movement and represents a critique of the outdated society of the time.
#5 The English Patient
The English Patient is a novel written by Michael Ondaatje. It is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed books and tells the story of four people who meet in a town in Italy during World War II.
The novel was awarded the Man Book Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in English literature.
The book narrates part of the life of a survivor of a plane crash, who arrives at an Italian monastery to receive medical attention from a nurse.
This story unfolds in the middle of the 1940s, and we will learn about the past of the “English patient” in full convalescence. It is about a past that hides a sad love story.
It is a captivating, catching, and moving story that we are sure you will enjoy reading.
This novel falls into the category of historical romance, so beyond the love story told by the author, it is one of those novels that invites us to travel through geographies and times that evoke defeat.
The English Patient is one of the most successful book-based romance movies of all time. Anthony Minghella was in charge of directing this film, which premiered in 1996.
The film was a success in and out of Hollywood and was awarded a total of 9 Oscars out of 12 nominations.
#6 Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is a novel written by Emily Brontë and published in 1847. It is considered a classic of English-language literature due to its innovative and time-transcendent narrative structure.
The love book about Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw has been adapted to the cinema six times.
The classic version, released in 1939, was praised by critics for the production’s effort to approach the story as best as possible.
The plot of this book revolves around revenge, rejection, and betrayal. The boy Heathcliff, who has been adopted by the Earnshaw family, is despised by neighbors, relatives, and friends of his parents.
However, what weighs him down the most is the contempt of Catherine, who loves him, but decides to marry another man out of convenience.
Heathcliff eavesdrops on the decision by mistake and decides to plan his revenge against everyone for the humiliations he received.
It is not surprising that the narration is close to the gothic genre since it is a particularity of many stories from the Victorian era. The story is the reflection of a family ruined because of revenge, arrogance, and pride.
#7 The Notebook
The Notebook is a novel by American writer Nicholas Sparks. It was developed by the author in six months. The novel made the New York Times list of best-grossing books in its first week of release. In fact, it became a bestseller.
The Notebook is the first book in the literary output of Nicholas Sparks. It tells the story of southern soldier Noah, who returns home after World War II.
Although his life goals include improving his plantation and the situation of his town, the character cannot get over the memory of Allie Nelson.
Allie is a beautiful young woman Noah met when she was 14 years old. Upon her return, Noah is 31 and Allie is 29, but she is engaged.
However, Allie confesses her love to Noah and must face a series of challenges on the eve of her wedding.
Nick Cassavetes was the director of the film version of the same name, which was released in 2004.
Also read: Love books that will make you cry.
#8 One day
One Day is a book written by David Nicholls and published in 2009.
The novel is a favorite among romance fans and was awarded the Galaxy Book of the Year 2010, a literary award that recognizes the best writers in the UK. It is a moving and persuasive story.
The novel tells a story about time and its passing, and how difficulties represent an opportunity to stay true to our convictions. Obviously, it tells a beautiful love story with no expiration date.
The story follows Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, a young couple who meet at a college prom. There they spend their first night together and an emotional bond that will remain throughout their lives is formed.
The development of the characters is one of the strongest points of the book, according to critics.
It is an entertaining story, with an original plot and a setting very close to reality.
Throughout the story, David Nicholls knew how to manage the length of the most important events to keep the reader glued to the pages until the end.
#9 P.S. I Love You
P.S. I Love You is one of the most successful romance novels of all time. Written by Cecilia Ahern and published in 2004, it is a story full of emotions in which hope becomes the main weapon of the protagonists to face the tragedy.
The film adaptation received critical acclaim and was much more successful than the book.
P.S. I Love You tells the story of Holly, a woman happily married to Gerry, a charming man with whom she has a unique and complex connection.
After suffering from an illness, Gerry dies and Holly faces terrible grief that is only alleviated by several love letters that Gerry left written for her.
Gerry’s notes tell us a lot about the psychology of the character since he focuses on the meaning of life and the motivation to overcome fears.
The letters are the legacy of his love for Holly, and are written in the form of a “to-do list.” All letters are signed with a “P.S.: I love you.”
#10 Bridget Jones’s Diary
Bridget Jones’s Diary is the second book by writer Helen Fielding. Published in 1996, it is a romantic comedy that swept box offices worldwide and was responsible for consolidating Fielding as one of the most important British authors of the romance genre.
It was a best seller and won the British Book Award for Book of the Year in 1998.
Bridget is a messy thirtysomething, insecure and uncommitted in love. She wants to change her lifestyle, so she has decided to write her resolutions for the New Year in a book.
Bridget is a victim of self-sabotage regarding these goals, but her real problems will come with the relationship she decides to start with Daniel, a co-worker.
Daniel is an uncomplicated guy, who runs away from emotional responsibilities and is very unfaithful. However, on the other side appears Mark, an introverted, rich, handsome, and emotionally available man.
The work is a portrait of couple relationships and all their variants. The narrative inevitably leads us to engage with the truth of its characters.
Some of the themes addressed by Fielding in the plot include social pressure on women regarding marriage, children, and family.
It is a funny, ironic, and carefree story that reflects on love and the hardships that many women must suffer throughout their lives.
#11 Eat, Pray, Love
Eat, Pray, Love is a 2006 novel written by American writer Elizabeth Gilbert.
The film of the same name was released in 2010 and starred Oscar winner Julia Roberts. It grossed over $200 million worldwide.
After a traumatic divorce, full of disappointment, unenchanted and in the midst of an existential and emotional crisis, Elizabeth Gilbert makes the decision to start from scratch and makes a long journey through India, Italy and Indonesia.
The book is a celebration of that journey. In her pages, the author discovers pleasures that she was previously unaware of, such as good conversations, good food, meditation and the balance between mind and spirit.
It is an autobiographical story whose worldwide sales success has been overwhelming due to the message it projects: We can always take responsibility for our destiny and our happiness.
We can all live in peace without the need to constantly adapt to the models imposed by society.
#12 Like Water for Chocolate
Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate in Spanish) is a book written by Laura Esquivel, a Mexican author, and published in 1989.
It is one of the most important stories in Latin American romance literature, which is why it was included in the top 100 of the best novels in Spanish of the 20th century by the newspaper El Mundo (Spain).
The book tells the story of Tita, a woman involved in family traditions that prevent her from finding love. Instead, she takes care of her mother and she decides to remain single for her whole life.
However, this does not keep her from love affairs. The novel is full of Mexican tradition and culture, especially popular cuisine.
This book is framed in the current of magical realism, and is set at the time of the Mexican Revolution. Tita must face the obstacle that her love with Pedro represents.
However, this secret love will transcend time. The film of the same name was released in 1992 and is listed as one of the 100 highest grossing films of Mexican cinema.
#13 Love in The Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera is one of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpieces. Published in 1985, the novel was inspired by the way in which the romantic relationship of the writer’s parents developed.
It is a love story that will be challenged by time, but that will finally find its balance point.
In this work, Gabriel García Marquez tells us the love story between Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza.
Set in the Colombian Caribbean, between 1870 and 1930 (approximately), the story begins with the death of Juvenal Urbina, a successful doctor married to Fermina Daza. Florentino Ariza, Fermina’s teenage boyfriend.
In the middle of the funeral, Florentino tells Fermina that he has respected the pact of love that they swore to each other in their youth and was waiting for her husband’s death to get her back.
Starting from Fermina Daza’s anger, the author begins to show the love story between both characters and the difficulties that prevented them from getting together in the past.
This book is an ode to love in all its expressions: passionate and romantic love, love for the family, love for customs, loyalty and the values of friendship.
But more importantly: it is a tribute to love that lasts a lifetime despite the adversities of life.
Twilight is a book by author Stephenie Meyer, who also works as a film producer.
The book was published in 2005 and its overwhelming success is reflected in the number of languages into which it has been translated (37) and in its more than 25 million copies sold.
The story deals with the intense pleasures of human beings and the drama of immortal love.
As you have surely heard or seen, it is a vampire saga. It tells the story of Bella, a 17-year-old teenager who lives alone with her mother.
Because of a trip that her mother has to make, Bella moves in with her father, who enrollled her at a new school in Forks, Washington.
There she meets Edward, a pale, handsome young man with a mysterious history. One day, Edward uses his supernatural abilities to rescue Bella from being hit by a car.
The connection of that moment marks a before and after in the story. A love is born between the two that must overcome all kinds of challenges typical of human life, and also of vampire life.
#15 Call Me by Your Name
Call Me By Your Name is a book written by André Aciman, an Italian-American author, literary critic, and journalist.
Published in 2007, this title is a tribute to love and a journey through the emotion, eroticism and nostalgia of living the best relationship of your life in just six weeks of summer. The film adaptation was successfully released in 2017.
Call Me By Your Name tells the love story between two boys. Elio is a 17-year-old student who travels to an Italian town to do a university internship.
There he meets Professor Oliver, who is 24 years old and also arrives in town. From falling in love to parting, this novel promises to leave you flooded with emotions.
The romance between the two is complex, but the idyllic and orderly environment in which they find themselves favors each encounter, each conversation and each intimate connection.
Here, crazy love is short-lived, but it remains in the minds of the protagonists for life.
If there is something that love books that became movies have in common, it is the optimism, strength, and passion that human beings must cling to when we seek to complement our path with someone else’s company.
Reading them is to remember part of our purpose, not only in the subject of love but also in our daily lives.
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