Steamy clinches, bodice-rippers and smouldering Lotharios: What classic literature can teach us about real-life love prospects

As Jane Austen readers can attest to, there are some swoon-inducing scenes in literature that can change the way one looks at romance forever.

For two avid readers, that combined passion of books and well, passion, has also yielded a wealth of relationship lessons, with novels providing some useful guides when it comes to affairs of the heart.

New dating guide, Much Ado About Loving: What Our Favorite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, Not So-Great Gatsbys, and Love in the Time of Internet Personals, by Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly, may give many an agony aunt a run for her money, taking examples of classic literature figures to cement some hard-and-fast rules when it comes to love.

Mr Darcy! A new book's authors unpick literary love lessons - and suggest Elizabeth Bennett may have been distracted by 'Champagne goggles'

Mr Darcy! A new book unpicks love lessons – and suggests Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennett, seen here on BBC, was distracted by 'Champagne goggles'

Speaking with Huffington Post, Mr Murnighan – who thanks reading Milton, of all writers, for leading to two of his relationships – is certain that books have a lot to teach us.

'The great thing about novels,' he told the news site, 'is that they can show
instead of simply telling and we, in turn, can not only learn, but

He said that he believes that the novel beats magazine features and other shorter essays by including the hidden ingredient of dramatisation.

And drama is exactly what the authors' top literary love picks have in spades.

Moby Dick

Pride and Prejudice book cover

Literary love: Look no further than to the pages of classic novels for valuable lessons in romance, say the co-authors of a new dating guide

From Hemingway's portrayal of Frederic Henry in A farewell to Arms, showing that a tough man can in fact have a soft side, to Infinite Jest's salutary warning against the dangers of confusing shyness for an inflated ego, the book's analysis seems spot on.

Sylvia Plath was a troubled woman – but her only novel, Bell Jar, may serve as a lesson to women who may be avoiding their own problems.

Much Ado About Loving by Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly

Much Ado About Loving by Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly

'If you're like Esther,' Mr Murnighan tells Huffington Post, '…if you become
appalled by any and every guy you've ever had a crush on as soon as he
liked you back – please for your sake, ask yourself what's up with
that. Think about why you wouldn't be a member of any two-person club
that would have you as a member.'

And while Pride and Prejudice has many a woman enraptured with Mr Darcy, it is worth remembering that Elizabeth Bennett once found him repellent.

Her change of heart – and eventual marriage – may be a result of 'Champagne goggles,' or 'the natural human desire to get married,
causing us to romanticize, idealize, or otherwise let off the hook
potential partners and their various flaws,' suggests the co-author.

Herman Melville's Moby Dick, on the other hand, may provide pointers as to avoiding the male who has nothing but work on his mind – and no time for a partner.

Perhaps most sanguine of all is the heavyweight War and Peace's valuable lesson that 'you can be attractive to almost anybody,' says Mr Murnighan.

Natasha's good nature, energy and positivity is naturally magnetic – and, we hope, replicable.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
'Lesson: If he cheats, it's not necessarily about you'

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
'Lesson: You can be attractive to almost everybody'

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
'Lesson: When it comes to marriage, beware “Champagne goggles”'

Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence
'Lesson: Never say “do you love me” after sex'

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 'Lesson: There's a way to handle 'male issues' in bed'

Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust 'Lesson: Don't try to get back together with your ex!'

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway 'Lesson: Make sure your macho man has a heart too'

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace 'Lesson: Learn the difference between egomaniacs and nervousness'

Moby Dick by Herman Melville 'Lesson: Avoid workaholics'

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates 'Lesson: Avoid guys trying to find themselves'

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 'Lesson: If no guy is good enough, it may be your problem'