Last week’s discussion about friendship in novels segued into a discussion of romantic relationships rooted in friendship. Perla said, “As for my favorite friendship, it’s between Claire and Jamie from Outlander. I love the friendship they shared at the beginning of their amazing love story.” Cate brought up Anne and Gilbert in the Anne of Avonlea books and television series. Dorthe and Sarah talked about how Percy and Marguerite’s relationship evolves from Percy worshipping Margot on a pedestal and Margot feeling an almost desperate, possessive love for Percy to, as Dorthe said, “an understanding where she accepts his choices and he accepts the pain he causes her. In a way that kind of love is the most beautiful kind of friendship, I think, because it honours the freedom and the separateness of the two people involved although it also recognizes the deep bond.”
That wonderful description made me think of Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, who spend four books struggling to find this balance. Toward the end of Gaudy Night, when Harriet is still struggling to trust enough to accept Peter, they go to a concert together at Oxford. Harriet says “…what did you mena whne you said than anybody could have the harmony if they would leave us the counterpoint?” After a metaphorical exchange about polyphonic music, Peter says, “I admit that Bach isn’t a matter of an autocratic virtuoso and a meek accompanist. But do you want to be either?”
In Busman’s Honeymoon, Peter and Harriet are still finding the balance between what it means to be married and still be individuals (leading to a wonderful ending scene which was the inspiration for the ending scene in Beneath a Silent Moon). Laurie King explores these same themes in her Mary Russell series (King talked about Sayers as an influence on her work and both Sayers and King are definitely influences on me as a writer). One of the joys of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is the way it captures the wonder of finding a friend and soul mate. I love the watching the marriage between the protagonists develop as the series progresses (while they cope with the reality of two very independent individuals who has chosen to share their lives). While they were dealing with a number of difficult issues in Locked Rooms, the latest entry in the series, I thought their marriage seemed more “settled” somehow. Holmes frequently referred to Russell as “my wife” whereas in The Moor he could barely acknowledge having a wife.
In my favorite love stories, the romance is rooted in friendship. (I thought it was very telling in the last season of Sex & the City when Alexander told Carries “you’re not friend, you’re my lover.” The image of Carrie and Big laughing together on the floor of hotel corridor–just after she’s tripped him up–showed they were definitely friends). Which brings me to one of my favorite pairs friends turned lovers–Mulder & Scully.
I discovered The X-Files fairly late. I went on several trips with a friend who liked the show. We’d watch syndicated reruns in our hotel room (a couple of times pushing back dinner reservations to finish the episodes). I saw the episodes wildly out of order, but pretty soon I was hooked and was watching the show love (mid-season six) as well as catching up on reruns. I’ve never particularly liked paranormal stories, but I was fascinated by the complicated, unraveling conspiracy. And I loved the relationship between Scully and Mulder. The complicated layers, the deepening bond, the slowly (maddeningly slow at times 🙂 developing romance that was all the more powerful for being expressed in subtext. The developing relationship between investigative partners and the unraveling conspiracy are themes I love to write about myself. The X-Files is another big influence on my writing (I’ll confess that in my mind Charles bears a more than passing resemblance to David Duchovny).
Do you like love stories ground in friendship? Why or why not? Any thoughts on the examples above or suggestions of other examples? By the way both Secrets of a Lady and Beneath a Silent Moon contain a few X-Files references/in jokes (what are sometimes called Easter Eggs). Bonus points if anyone can spot them!
This week’s addition to the Fraser Correspondence is a letter Mélanie writes to Raoul when she first visits England (she’s just been to a fête at Carlton House in honor of Wellingon). Mélanie and Raoul have a complicated relationship to say the least, but in their own way they are also friends and lovers.