Alex Gabriel

Writer. Reader. Romancer.

Bewildering Plots: The Secret Coolness of Lost Lovers

1 Comment

Several bestselling books in recent years have featured the protagonist looking into the mysterious death of a loved one, and discovering that their beloved was leading a secret life as – say – a heroic amnesiac assassin, or infamous pop star art thief, or celebrated grave-robbing archeologist. When they weren’t with the protagonist, they were actually out saving the world with their metal arm (or making youths faint in rapture while making off with priceless treasures, or sexily wielding a bullwhip while breaking into the tombs of dead kings… whatever), and were even more amazing and wonderful than the protagonist ever suspected.

love-in-a-cage-515682These books have made me stand in a number of bookstores in complete, befuddled lack of comprehension. My theory is that the interest of these stories lies in puzzling out an intriguing mystery, and perhaps – to some extent – in learning to live with loss while keeping the love alive. But this is a wild guess, because the truth is that I do not understand. At all.

This is basically a love story where one of the lovers is already gone forever, right? It’s about losing someone you love, and then discovering you never really knew them at all. You loved them, sure, but you never knew and loved them as completely as you would have wished to know and love them. And now it’s too late.

No. Just, no. Have I mentioned no?

It’s no better when the dead loved one is a sibling, or parent, or whatever. (It IS better when the person who died turns out to have been a villain all along, because that’s a different kind of tale altogether.)

I think every reader has certain plots that just don’t work for them. I’ve found that this is one of mine.

Maybe someone who does like this kind of plot can explain the attraction to me someday.

Do you like this kind of plot – and if so, what is it that attracts you? What kinds of plot don’t work for you?

One thought on “Bewildering Plots: The Secret Coolness of Lost Lovers

  1. Oh, and also: In one of these books, the protagonist evidently meets her dead sister’s lover, and proceeds to fall in love with him herself. This is like Do Not Want icing on top of the Hell No cake for me.

    For some reason I cannot help but identify with the dead pop star art thief in this scenario. Of course I would want both my hypothetical sister and my hypothetical lover to find happiness after my death. (Especially my dear nonexistent sister! My relationship with her is great; we’re as close as an actual human and a hypothetical construct can possibly be.) But if they found this happiness with each other, it’d feel as though I’ve just served as a plot device to bring them together. I’d just end up as a kind of fondly remembered, nostalgic footnote in their lives. And to that, I say: NO.


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