Love at first sight, followed by happily ever after, is a popular trope in romance novels but is it something that can only happen in fiction?
The two main characters, a World War II Latvian refugee and an American fighter pilot, in my novel, A Home for an Exile’s Heart fall in love at the first touch of their hands as they gaze into each other’s eyes and sparks fly. My Latvian beta reader thought that was unrealistic. In fiction, it happens all the time but can it happen in real life? I told my reader my favorite anecdote about a true life love at first sight story. This is how I remember hearing it so my words may not be exact but the facts are.
Internationally famous Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was being interviewed on a radio show about his marriage to opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya.
Host: “Mr. Rostropovich, I understand that you and your wife married a week after you first met.”
Rostropovich: “Yes. It was a big mistake.”
Host, taken aback, stammers, “A m-mistake?”
Rostropovich: “Yes. We wasted a whole week.”
I love this story. Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya were married for fifty-two years, until his death. Though it may be rare, love at first sight, followed by a happily ever after does happen in real life.
Most of the time, it seems to me, a declaration of love can be premature. Some guy I once dated said that he loved me way too soon. I was not enchanted or bowled over. I said that he hardly knew me so how could he possibly love me? We hadn’t had any deep discussions or revelations of the secrets of our hearts. But he kept on declaring his love. Ove and over and over. Bleh. Maybe if he’d been the right guy I’d have been more receptive, even delighted. My advice, don’t date someone just because you’re lonely, bored, or depressed. Under such circumstances a “happily ever after” ain’t likely. If you meet a gem like Rostropovich or Vishnevskaya, go for it. Don’t settle for a rhinestone.
How do the love birds in my novel know they’ve found someone they can love forever? There’s an immediate sense of familiarity as if they’ve known each other forever. During their first evening together, they spend hours just talking. They open their hearts, tell each other things they’ve never told anyone else, things that reveal character.
As Shakespeare said, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” It certainly can’t in a novel, so it doesn’t in A Home for an Exile’s Heart.