A kiss can change your life…
Penelope Janu writes contemporary fiction about smart and adventurous women who don’t mean to fall in love…but do. Up on Horseshoe Hill, Penelope’s latest book, has the tagline ‘A kiss can change your life’. We thought we’d put Penelope under the spotlight on the blog this week by asking, ‘Can a kiss really change your life?’ Looking at some of her favourite books, and film and TV adaptations, Penelope answered our question with a resounding ‘YES!’
The first kiss is so much more than a physical interaction. Whether we read about a kiss or watch a kiss on our screens, we’re only likely to engage with it emotionally if we care about the characters, and sense what the kiss might mean in terms of the development of their relationship. Sometimes we read hundreds of pages to get to the first kiss. Sometimes the kiss happens in an opening scene, and the rest of the story is about how the characters come to terms with the implications of the attraction that led to the kiss in the first place. Here are a few of my favourite first kisses…
10. 10 Things I Hate About You
I can’t believe twenty years have passed since the release of this movie in 1999. It’s a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and I dare anyone not to say ‘ahhh’ when Kat and Patrick finally kiss…
This 1995 movie was based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Mel and Josh’s kiss is one of the final scenes in the film, but is the culmination of the simmering tension that’s existed from the start. I love the dialogue in this scene. It’s so true to the characters, and sets the kiss up beautifully.
8. The Hating Game
There is so much to love about Sally Thorne’s first novel. When Josh and Lucy kiss in the lift early in the book, it turns everything Lucy’s been thinking about Josh pretty much on its head. The reader is left in absolutely no doubt whatsoever that these two are physically attracted to each other, but they’ve got a lot to work through before they get to the happily ever after part.
7. North and South
Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, and the 2004 BBC adaption, are both firm favourites. The novel is vague about whether Margaret and John kiss in the final chapter, but the series (thank goodness!) leaves the viewer in no doubt whatsoever.
6. Harry Potter
We waited a long time for Hermione and Ron to kiss, but the wait was definitely worth it. I love the note of desperation in this kiss. It works so well in terms of the dire circumstances the characters are in, and also the unresolved tensions that have been simmering between these two for hundreds of pages and hours of film time.
5. Pride and Prejudice
In the days before Netflix and DVDs (and when videos were only available after release), millions of people were prepared (forced!) to wait a whole week to see each subsequent episode of the 1995 BBC television series Pride and Prejudice. And wait we did. Because while Lizzie and Darcy didn’t actually kiss in the pages of Jane Austen’s novel (and only briefly in the final scene of the series) we knew that, in the privacy of their bedchamber, sparks would fly.
4. Pride and Prejudice (again).
The first kiss in the 2005 movie adaptation was when Lizzie kissed Darcy’s hand. Sometimes less is so much more…
The 2007 movie, based on Ian McEwan’s novel, is great, but the passages in the book describing Robbie and Cecelia’s first kiss—how her sigh marks a shift in their relationship from friendship to so much more, are exquisitely written. This book makes me cry every time.
Does the kiss in the 2002 movie change everything? I’m not sure. But it’s the only Spiderman movie I have any interest in re-watching!
1..Romeo and Juliet
In William Shakespeare’s play, there are only fourteen lines (and a sonnet) between first meeting and first kiss. Sigh…
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.
I could keep going and going (Annie Proulx’s magnificent short story Brokeback Mountain, and movies like Casablanca and Titanic), but…the kiss scene in Baz Luhrhmann’s 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet isn’t a bad way to finish!
Whether on the page or on screen, the first kiss is special. I’d love to read about your favourite first kisses in the comments below!