If you’re a fan of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, that classic coming-of-age tale of four sisters living in genteel poverty in 19th-century America, and if the harum-scarum Jo is your favourite of the March siblings, you may still be sulking over the fact that she and Laurie don’t marry. I know I am.
That the idiot lad went and fell in love with everyone’s least favourite sister, Amy, just adds insult to injury, and, as a result, I avoid the second volume of Little Women (published in Britain as Good Wives) like the plague.
However, to somewhat assuage the disappointment of Alcott’s perverse decision, I read Jo and Laurie fan fiction.
For those who have yet to catch on to it, fan fiction is stories written, by fans, about characters from their favourite movies, TV shows, games, books, etc. One thing fan fiction writers do is to “fix” problems or right wrongs committed by the original creators of the fiction.
For fans of Little Women, it’s a common thing to wish that Alcott had allowed Jo and Laurie to marry; to fans, it seems like Alcott interfered with her characters’ destiny. In any case, writing and reading fan fiction in which Jo accepts Laurie’s proposal, they marry, and, yes, consummate their relationship, is some consolation to Jo-Laurie “shippers” (those who romantically pair two fictional characters, especially when the relationship is not depicted in the fiction itself).
If you Google “Jo and Laurie fan fiction” you will find lots of stories about the two characters living their lives as a couple.
But then, while it’s quite natural to think of Jo and Laurie together – it’s clear from the moment they meet that Laurie fancies Jo, and he does propose to her – there are also those who have imagined less likely fictional characters in relationships, and gone on to write fan fiction about these wild imaginings.
So, for example, from the Harry Potter series you’ll find Harry and Hermione romance fan fiction; and even Harry and Ron, or Harry and Draco as a couple. Hell, there’s even fan fiction in which Harry and Dumbledore make magic like you’ve never read about in the series!
And if you read widely, you may imagine romances between characters from different books and universes. So, say you think Bella Swan of Twilight would be better off with a wizard than a vampire – well, Bella-Harry Potter fan fiction does exist.
And if you think there is no one more perfect for Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games than Legolas Greenleaf of The Lord Of The Rings (what fun they’d have discussing the finer points of archery!), yes, they do fall in love in some fan fiction universes.
There is also a hilariously facetious version of Twilight in which Sophie Hatter (of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones) is wooed by Edward Cullen; some lighthearted flirtation between Gone With The Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara and Hunger Games’ Theodore Lawrence at a fashionable post-war ball; Twilight’s shapeshifting Jacob Black trying his luck with Sookie Stackhouse of True Blood (will the boy never learn that ladies prefer fangs without fur?); and a promising meeting between John Green’s two dearly departed characters, Augustus Waters (from The Fault In Our Stars) and Alaska Young (Looking For Alaska), in the afterlife.
If you look long and hard enough, you will probably find fan fiction to pander to all your shipping fantasies, no matter how unlikely or bizarre you think they are. But failing that, perhaps it’s time you write your own. After all, you can’t be the only one who has fantasised about Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennett abandoning their macho he-men and setting up house together in Bath.