It’s a familiar story, one that seems to continue to manifest in fiction and reality throughout history. Sometimes it goes like this: girl meets boy, boy falls in love with girl, girl meets another boy, girl can’t decide which boy she likes better, boys fight, someone goes home unhappy. Occasionally it goes like this: girl falls in love with boy, boy is already in a relationship with a girl, girls try to undermine each other, boy ends up picking one girl. There are dozens of iterations of this same idea (see almost any romantic comedy ever made, or just take a look at the headlines in a major newspaper).
We’ve been thinking a lot about love triangles recently as we are getting ready to have some fun with THE VINCENT BOYS. This book tells the story of Ashton, the preacher’s daughter, Sawyer, the perfect boyfriend and star athlete, and Beau, Sawyer’s cousin and the town bad boy. The three have been friends for years, and things get complicated between Beau and Ashton when Sawyer leaves town for the summer. These love triangles tend to be a perennial theme in many stories. In fact, even one of our historical fiction novels has a love triangle at the heart of it. A WORLD BETWEEN US couches a classic love triangle against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil war. And even though these two novels take place worlds apart, they struggle with the same conflict: “the heart wants what the heart wants.”
Time doesn’t seem to have any effect on the inevitability of love triangles, though it does impact the circumstances. Ancient love triangles all seem to include some sort of gross brutality. In ancient Greece, Helen of Troy was so coveted by so many men, wars were waged over her affections. King Henry VIII executed his fifth wife Kathryn Howard, after learning that her affections strayed a bit outside their marriage.
Public figures seem particularly susceptible to these kinds of romantic entanglements. Marilyn Monroe, JFK and Jackie O found themselves embroiled in scandal when JFK liked it a little too hot. And the sheer amount of Hollywood starlets involved in some sort of romantic shenanigan today boggles the mind.
One of the things that makes a love triangle so complicated is that each potential partner provides something different. In THE VINCENT BOYS, it’s the town bad boy vs. the upstanding young gentleman. In A WORLD BETWEEN US, it’s the revolutionary vs. the boy next door. Lydia talks a bit about the difference between Nat (the revolutionary) and George (the BND) in this video:
We’ll get back to the bad boy vs. good boy debate later this week, but for now, we ask you: what are your favourite historical love triangles? Why do you think people can’t help but get themselves into these situations? To start digging into the love triangle in THE VINCENT BOYS, visit our dedicated VB site here.