Get swept away by one of these classic romance novels!
Take a step back in time and dive into one of these classic romance novels. Get lost in the romantic language, vivid scene setting, and heart stopping tension.
The classic romance novels on my book list go back into the 1800s up through the late 20th century. I don’t have any particular rules about what I’m classifying as a classic, except that it’s an iconic, well known novel written prior to 2000.
I hope you find one of these classic romance novels that suits your fancy and enjoy a romantic read!
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Classic Romance Novels
by Jane Austen
While Pride and Prejudice may be Austen’s most famous work, Emma is the most delightful and approachable. It features one of my favorite romance trope – friends to lovers! Plus, the main character is a meddling matchmaker who only wants what’s best for her friends.
Love is in the air throughout this Jane Austen classic, which is basically a rom com in classic form.
I Capture The Castle
by Dodie Smith
A coming of age story that features a girl on the cusp of adulthood, who’s family moves into a run down castle. She fills notebook after notebook with stories of her family, her life, and her first love.
This enchanting narrator completely encapsules what it feels like to navigate young love, family relationships, and new experiences. This novel utterly charmed me and it’s one of my favorites on this list!
Gone With The Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
As we know, not all love stories have happy endings. Mitchell’s epic story stars the tempestuous relationship between strong willed Scarlett O’Hara and conniving Rhett Butler. What’s beautiful about this story is that it’s also about love for a place and finding the strength to keep going after tragedy.
Scarlett O’Hara is a character for the ages – spoiled, strong, a hopeless romantic, cruel, but a survivor. Her love affair with Rhett Butler and her attempt to save her home during the Civil War is truly a memorable saga.
The English Patient
by Michael Ondaatje
One of the more recent classic romance novels on this list is The English Patient. It won the Man Booker Prize and completely captivated me from start to finish. The novel takes place at the end of World War II and follows four individuals damaged in various ways, both physically and mentally, after the war.
Each of their stories are told as they spend time together in an Italian villa and readers rely on the characters’ memories to understand their backgrounds and how they came to the same place.
By Leo Tolstoy
If you’re looking for one of the lengthier classic romance novels, you’ve found it in Tolstoy! Anna is a wealthy, Russian aristocrat who’s married to a statesman, but is longing for a more exciting life. She gets caught up in a torrid affair with count Vronsky.
By Charlotte Bronte
A young woman with a tragic past takes a role as a governess for a mysterious man and his charge. The little girl is a delight, but the man is brooding and taciturn. At least until she starts to get under his skin and their conversations turn intriguing and meaningful.
But she’ll never expect the secret he’s hiding and it might threaten everything they’ve found in each other.
The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
This book is a romance, comedy, and action adventure all rolled into one, but it’s on this list because of it includes the “self-proclaimed” most romantic kiss of all time! Wesley is a farm boy who is deeply in love with a girl above his station. So, he sets off to seek his fortune. But years pass with no Wesley and Buttercup endures her broken heart.
She’s on the brink of a loveless marriage when she’s kidnapped by a rival nation and a pirate joins in on the hunt for her heart. This also shows up on my list of romantic books turned into movies since the adaptation is fantastic!
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
by The Brothers Grimm
While the original short stories are far darker than the romanticized versions most of us are familiar with, it wouldn’t be a list of classic romance novels without a few fairy tales!
The originals such as Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and more are all included in this fascinating collection.
by Emily Bronte
The other Bronte sister who deserves a spot on this classic romance novels list is Emily! I’ve honestly never read Wuthering Heights, but it’s such a well known book that I couldn’t leave it off.
The love triangle between Catherine and gypsy Heathcliffe vs well-bred Edgar is one for the ages. Their decisions affect the next generation and beyond.
North and South
by Elizabeth Gaskell
When a country girl is moved to an industrial town, she starts discovering just how bad conditions are for the workers. Margaret spends more and more time learning about injustices in her society. However, she’s also getting to know the mill owner. John Thornton may be the symbol of everything she’s fighting against, but she can’t deny her feelings for him are growing.
by Louisa May Alcott
Although this novel is famously known for the four sisters, there are also a few love stories wrapped up in these womens’ lives! The March sisters are iconic, each in their own way. Read along as they grow up, explore passions, fall in love, and rely on each other through everything.
A Room With A View
by E.M. Forster
Lucy Honeychurch ends up falling in love while on holiday in Italy, something we’ve all dreamed of happening. The only bad news, she’s engaged. Her fiancé is a straight laced man who fits in with her place in the world, but Lucy is feeling stifled by the traditions and rigidity of Victorian society.
by Daphne Du Maurier
This gothic novel from the mid 1900’s is a creepy tale of a new wife that comes to live her husband’s house. What starts as a love story between newlyweds starting their life together turns dark.
Manderley appears to be still under the influence of the previous wife and her death is shrouded in mystery.
Anne of Green Gables
by L.M Montgomery
My love for Anne of Green Gables knows no limit! This is one of the sweetest, most pure characters you’ll find in classic romance novels, while still being full of spunk and life. Read along as Anne arrives at Prince Edward Island as a child and grows up throughout the series.
Along the way you’ll discover the joy of her and Gilbert’s love story, which unfolds over the course of several books!
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
by Truman Capote
The novella that inspired a classic movie! Holly Golightly is a young girl who’s surviving in NYC by befriending wealthy men who dote on her. As we all know, she’s particularly taken by the Tiffany’s store.
I’m personally partial to the film, since it actually allows the relationship between Holly and the narrator to develop. But if you’re looking for classic romance novels with a bit of whimsy, this will be your pick!
Have you read any of these classic romance novels? If not, which classic romance novels are your favorites?