Literary love letters

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If, like me, you spent any time looking for a Valentine’s Day card this week, hurried yet dreading a poor decision, turning over the soppy, banal or lewd contributions of romance marketeers towards stating your feelings, you might have wondered if there isn’t a better way of saying ‘I love you’ than a card with a Quentin Blake-esque sketch of coupling on the sofa, as one card manufacturer obviously thinks its customers would find romantic. I turned up some literary moments to inspire you to find something more original.

Thinking ahead? Take Scheherezade’s 1001 Nights as inspiration and read your lover a new story every day for 1001 nights. It’ll save you thinking of something new for at least another 2 years, and will win immense kudos in the commitment stakes. The goodwill engendered should give you the moral high ground even if you then forget every romantic milestone for the next 2.74 years. Also, you could be sneaky and outsource the selection to your local indie bookshop.

Fabulous date? Margaret Atwood’s hero tells his mistress a new part of his sci-fi thriller The Blind Assassin each time they meet, so she comes back as much for the story as the sex.

Long distance relationship? Martin, the obsessive-compulsive shut-in of Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry, unable to bring himself to leave the house to go to her, arranges for his wife in Amsterdam to have a private room in a restaurant, where he phones her to share the meal, in an eccentrically tender romantic scene.

In a hurry? LM Montgomery used to hide Anne’s lovering talk behind the useful phrase ‘several pages omitted’, believing that readers would not find them interesting. This would make an excellent love letter for the discerning gentleman, and would also save you an awful lot of dithering in the shop.

What literary moments have inspired you?

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