Trigonometries of Love and Heartbreak

by Denise D.

Do you ever find yourself noticing random coincidences between the books you read? Sometimes the coincidences are concrete, like the main characters in two different books walk the same route, eat the same unusual food, or have the same random thought.

Other times, the connections are more thematic.  Lately, I’ve realized that many of the books I’d read in the last month or so involved love triangles. Not the traditional love triangles of one character trying to decide between two romantic partners, but something a little more off kilter.

School Sweethearts Gone Bad

Ah, school. That exclusive club where new kids struggle to fit in. Suffering taunts, bullying, and loneliness, the foster kid, refugee, or other outsider suffers. Along comes a knight or angel in shining armor, bringing comfort, belonging, joy and love….

For a bit.

But what happens when a third party enters the picture? That’s when we cross over the threshold from romance into something more twisted and obsessive.

…Literary Fiction Style, with an international flare

Love triangles meet historical literary fiction in Invitation to a Bonfire, in which an orphaned refugee of the Russian Revolution ends up as the scholarship girl and then gardener at an elite boarding school in New Jersey. When her Russian author hero (plus his wife) accepts a teaching role at the same school, the triangle forms. In the Garden of the Fugitives offers an equally literary take on the disturbing path of obsessive love, in an idea-fueled tale of boy meeting girl– and then her double when he is much older and laden with secrets.

…Psychological Suspense Style


Readers more interested in fast-paced, twisting psychological suspense tales can also indulge in love triangles gone bad.  The narrator of Our Little Secret relates the tale of her high school love in an interrogation room while the narrator of Our Kind of Cruelty shares his passionate love history in preparation for a trial. Talk about unreliable narrators! First love at its disturbing, menacing best.

How about you? Have you noticed any odd coincidences between your recent reads?


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