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From The Bookshelf: Couples That Didn’t Survive The Great War

FromTheBookshelf: Couples That Didn't Survive The Great War

I vowed not to cry anymore

If we survived the Great war


I vowed not to fight anymore

If we survived the Great war

             – The Great War; Taylor Swift 

From The Bookshelf: Our bookshelves have no shortage of love stories, but some of the most captivating ones are those filled with heartbreak. The other day, I was listening to Taylor Swifts’ The Great War, and my mind wandered to some of the couples that couldn’t survive the Great War, the ones that had tragic endings.

But what’s the Great War? For me, it’s a term that encompasses so much more than just a battle. Every story has a different definition of the Great War, revolving around that one thing that separates the protagonists. For some couples, it’s actually the war, as we mostly see in dystopian and fantasy novels. However, for others, the Great War takes on many forms – societal pressures, devastating illnesses, and much more but the end result is always the same – heartbreak. 

Allow me to walk you through some of the greatest couples that couldn’t survive their Great War. Play Taylor’s The Great War in the background, and let’s get into it. (make sure you can reach out to a tissue box, just in case)

Important Note: This article contains spoilers on some of the most anticipated books and series, so read at your own risk. 

Nina Zenik & Matthias Helver – Grishaverse

From The Bookshelf: Couples That Didn't Survive The Great War


If you love reading fantasy, it would be a rare case that you haven’t read one of the Grishaverse series yet. Besides some swoon-worthy couples, it’s notorious for being the reason for deadly heartbreak among its fans. Nina Zenik and Matthias Helver, two of the six crows and the perfect example of an enemies-to-lovers trope, fail to survive the brutalities of fate. 

From bickering to saving each other’s life and staying with each other through the deadly addiction of jurda parem, Nina and Matthias are one of the most anticipated couples of the Grishaverse. However, the cruel ending makes the readers witness Matthias dying in the arms of Nina while she is trying to bring him back to life through her healing powers. As the death of Matthias wasn’t enough to break the little hearts of the Grishaverse fandom, we also get to see a small funeral arranged for Matthias, which is even more heartbreaking. 

James Potter & Lily Evans – Harry Potter Universe

Potterheads, assemble! How could we not mention James and Lily, the lovely couple of Hogwarts who was killed by the one “who cannot be named.” They both fought together along with their friends in the first wizarding war as members of the order of Phoenix, so the title fits a bit too well to them. 

However, when a prophecy came out regarding their infant, they both went into hiding. But they were betrayed by Petter Pettigrew, and Voldemort killed them in the infamous incident that orphaned Harry and left him at the mercy of the Dursleys. 

Finnick Odair & Annie Cresta – Hunger Games Universe

Who else loves stories that have no petty drama and complicated misunderstandings? Finnick and Annie, a couple that failed to enjoy much spotlight in the Hunger Games, is the perfect example of such a story. What makes their story even more beautiful is their loyalty. There’s no other love interest, just two of them being completely in love with each other. After all the hardships, they still have each other’s back, making them a glowing-in-the-shadows kind of ship. 

However, we don’t get to see too much of the happy part of their story. Finnick dies without having the chance to see his child, who is unborn at that moment. Still, their heartbreaking love story has the greatest influence on the readers. 

Stella Grant & Will Newman – Five Feet Apart

From The Bookshelf: Couples That Didn't Survive The Great War


If you are looking for a read that will give you a REAL heartbreak while keeping you hooked every second, this is it. It is one of those reads where the reader knows from the start that it’s not going to end well, but they simply can’t stop reading. 

It’s a lot more than a teen romance. It’s the perfect portrayal of tender emotions between Stella and Will while knowing all along they can never end up together that makes this story heartbreakingly beautiful. 

Though neither Will nor Stella dies in the end, they both have to go separate ways considering their medical situation. However, the scene where they bid farewell is heart-rendering enough, as it perfectly captures the vulnerability and helplessness of both the main characters. 

Genya Safin & David Kostyk – Grishaverse

A couple who got separated on the day of their wedding. A man who died while he was still in his wedding clothes and was on his way out of a palace after excusing his wife from the wedding dance! A woman who found a note filled with compliments in the pocket of his husband’s dead body – find me a more tragic story; I’m waiting. 

David and Genya don’t enjoy much spotlight in the Grishverse universe; still, they both not only play crucial roles in the storyline but are also loved by the readers. David is not really the expressive one, so their marriage takes place quite later in the books. However, their love story is paused forever on the very day of their wedding. Considering they are also in the middle of a war, the title also resonates on a deep level with them. 

David dies when Fjerda bombs the palace. Genya is looking for her when she finds his dead body crushed among the rubbles. Later, she finds a paper in his pocket where he was supposedly practicing how to complement her. 

Robbie Turner & Cecilia Tallis – Atonement

From The Bookshelf: Couples That Didn't Survive The Great War


An allegation separates this couple as Robbie is sent to prison. Though he is released earlier than his sentence in exchange for joining the armed forces, he never gets to meet the love of his life again. They both exchange letters while he is in prison. Robbie dies after he decides to sleep in a house with the hope that boats will soon come to get the soldiers (the hope that he is going to meet Cecilia again), not knowing the house he is sleeping in is bombed out. 

Cecilia dies a few months after Robbie’s death in a London bomb raid. However, Briony, who is the cause of the misunderstanding, decides to write a happy ending for both of them. But what good is that, after all?

Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby

If I were to select one book from all the books I’ve read for the most heartbreaking funeral, it would be The Great Gatsby. The love story of Gatsby and Daisy is an amazing contrast – the unconditional feelings of Jay and the fleeting fondness of Daisy both contribute to a tragic ending where Gatsby is left alone. 

We get to read about the lavish parties of Gatsby. We see Gatsby taking all the responsibility for the accident that was caused by Daisy. And then, we also see Gatsby lying lifeless, waiting for people to come and attend his funeral. While the same Daisy, who he sacrificed his life for, is too embarrassed to come to his funeral.

What makes their story even more heartbreaking is the superficial nature of their relationship. However, the only one who is left empty-handed at the end is Gatsby, while Daisy moves away with his husband to escape from problems. 

Hazel Grace & Augustus Waters – The Fault In Our Stars

Looking for something heartbreaking but with closure – it’s The Fault In Our Stars for me. It’s about two ill teens who hold on to each other while their bodies are decaying. The best part about this book is the cozy vibe, despite the tragic plot.

Augustus, the main character, arranges a pre-funeral and dies eight days after the pre-funeral ceremony. At his funeral, Hazel gets to know that he was writing a eulogy for her, and she gets to read some chunks of it that are sad yet comforting. 

I associate this story with Five Feet Apart, and though that’s a subjective opinion, I won’t suggest reading both of them together. It will only aggregate your sad feelings. 

Stay Bookish!

If you crave more recommendations or love to go through nostalgic throwbacks to your favorite reads, be sure to turn on the notifications.

Alishba is a 19-year-old literature student currently on the journey of figuring out life. She is just an unbroken optimist drifting through life using writing as a coping mechanism (and also as a source of livelihood). She is notorious among her friends for being too self-obsessed, a trait she proudly describes as self-love. She is a bad but enthusiastic painter and loves reading fantasy books.

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