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7 alumni books to get you in the mood for love this Valentine’s Day

11 February 2021

Valentine’s Day may look a little different this year and it’s unlikely we’ll see many grand, public displays of affection but don’t despair, you can still enjoy a bit of romance at home with these alumni authors. Curl up on the sofa, grab a hot cuppa, and indulge in some warm, fuzzy feelings with these exciting page-turners.  

1. For those of us who love a good time travelling love story  

2045 and After: A Romantic Novel by James Geoffrey Hanlan (BScEcon 1977; BA 1999)

First to kick off our Valentine’s Day reading list is a time travelling romance novel. Our protagonist, Christopher Jones, is thrown forward in time to 2045 as a young boy in Cornwall. A childhood romance blossoms, and he forms a powerful bond with Lorna Hopley. Adventures ensue against a backdrop of spectacular technological advances and political turbulence in a not-so-distant, futuristic world.  

2. For those of us looking for glamour and fun  

Draupadi in High Heels by Aditi Kotwal (MA 2009) 

Born into a well-known business family, Deeya is a high-flying, spoilt, rich girl who owns an elite fashion store. Her parents want her to get married and hold a swayamvar of sorts for her to select a husband. And she has a dilemma — to go with the extremely attractive and intriguing Karan or the dashing and outgoing Arjun. 

3. For those of us looking for the darker side of love 

The Machine by James Smythe (BA 2001, PhD 2008)  

‘A Frankenstein tale for the 21st century, The Machine is a story of the indelibility of memory, the human cost of science and the horrors of love.’ As you can probably tell by that tagline, this is not your typical, fluffy romance but a dark, heart-breaking read.  Vic is a tormented man after returning home from the war, and his happy marriage to Beth is a mess. Enter: the machine. The machine promises salvation and will rid Vic of his violent memories, but most machines are gone, considered too controversial. Beth may know where one such machine is, and she is hoping she can rebuild her husband piece by piece. 

4. For those of us looking for ‘against-all-odds’ kind of love

The Prisoner’s Wife by Dr Maggie Butt (writing as Maggie Brookes) (BA 1977, PhD 2002) 

If you’re ready to have your heart broken and put back together again by the words written on a page, then go ahead and add this to your collection. This is based on a true story about a young Czech woman who dresses as an English soldier in order to be with her husband in a POW camp. Risk, excitement, and inspiring acts of love and endurance will have you reading late into the night and holding your breath with every chapter.  

5.   For those of us looking for a thrill 

True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies (PhD 2003)  

Valentine’s Day isn’t all about the romance, sometimes it’s about passion. This book follows a young woman overwhelmed with obsession and desire. It starts with a chance encounter in a parking lot and then leads to a complicated path of self-discovery.

6. For those of us look for a refreshing take on love and friendship

The Normal state of mind by Susmita Bhattacharya (MA 2007)  

Set in India just before the millennium, when huge social progress had been made but only in some areas of life, our two protagonists attempt to challenge the social status-quo. Dipali is a young bride who wants to work hard and achieve success in her marriage, but her husband dies and she’s left with few options and little independence. Moushami is a schoolteacher who finds herself attracted to women and tries to keep this secret from her family, sneaking to glamourous art parties where she can be herself. A profound and thought-provoking story that takes place in an India struggling with communal riots and gay rights movements.  

7. For those of us… just not feeling it 

How Love Actually ruined Christmas by Gary Raymond (PhD 2020-)

It may not Christmas but if you’re not in the mood for traditional romance and fancy hearing an entertaining argument about how one of the most popular romance films of all time is actually a load of rubbish, then you’ve stumbled across the right book. This is a comical analysis of the hit film Love Actually that ‘takes us through a suffocating quagmire of badly drawn characters, nonsensical plotlines, and open bigotry, to a climax of ill-conceived schmaltz.’ Enjoy!