I turned on Turner Classic Movie channel last week, and Sean Penn was talking about African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. He called it an “almost perfect movie.” He said it had everything: adventure, romance, humor. And of course the great characters that Bogart and Hepburn helped create.
The phrase “almost perfect” stuck with me. I tried to think of books I felt were almost perfect. I’m still trying, but two books stand out: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Neither has adventure, except the adventure of living and loving (although Jo in Little Women has a great adventurous spirit). But both books have family dynamics and romance. Pride and Prejudice is more witty, deservedly called the first chick lit. Though Little Women has a quieter humor, it’s more heartwarming — and at the same time heart-hurting.
“Lord of Scoundrels is one of the seminal romances in my thousand book reading history. This novel was originally published in 1995 and remained in print since that time, over ten years and counting. I suspect its a book that my daughter will enjoy when she is of a romance novel reading age.”
I agree with Jane. This book has everything. Wit, great dialogue, a lusty, cynical hero and a smart, independent heroine who will shoot a man to get her way if necessary. And it also has family dynamics.
One more almost perfect book for me is Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. It has family dynamics, wit, romance, smart characters, chicanery and kinky sex.
I love many books and I have other favorite must-read authors, but these are the “almost perfect” books for me. They resonate with me. It’s not surprising that the books I write usually have family dynamics and subtle humor. I don’t strive for humor, but I think it arises out of my natural voice. Of course there’s romance. And once in a while, kinky sex.
What are your nearly perfect books? Do they reflect what you write?