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Top 5 books about love that survives war and other duress

The Museum of Lost Love author Gary Barker picks the best reads exploring the idea that love really does conquer all

Exit Westby Mohsin Hamid

In a xenophobic world not too different from our own, a refugee couple flee a war-torn country through magical doors that take them to safety. Their love endures, succumbs, then re-emerges decades later as something as simple and surprising as Hamid’s magical doors.

For Whom the Bell Tollsby Ernest Hemingway

Yes, it’s written in 1940s macho-speak, but the love story between the American volunteer in the Spanish civil war and the Spanish rape survivor is tender, convincing and unromanticised. Their love could not have lasted but at least it was.

Love in the Time of Choleraby Gabriel García Márquez

Turning idealised love into a disease, Márquez gives us both a clever play on words and a fable about enduring love. We have the ending we want as the lovers are reunited in old age, yet Marquez deftly teases us for believing in a love that could weather all.

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The Memory of Loveby Aminatta Forna

Set in the Sierra Leone civil war, Forna’s book weaves together local and expat stories of love and loss in deeply affecting prose. Her characters yearn, breathe and love across continents and decades of war as if they are sitting in the room with you.

Belovedby Toni Morrison

“Your love is too thick …”“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.” Morrison’s tale of an enslaved African woman who kills her eldest child to save her from slavery offers layers of insights on maternal love and masculine love under the worst duress imaginable. Required reading for all humans.

Gary Barker’s The Museum of Lost Love is out on October 17 (World Editions, £11.99)

Image: Andy DelGiudice

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