Reader, she married him By Yvette Huddleston

Uplifting story. Yvette Huddleston on the power of storytelling.
Uplifting story. Yvette Huddleston on the power of storytelling.
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There was a wonderful feelgood story in the news this week – and goodness knows we need one.

There was a wonderful feelgood story in the news this week – and goodness knows we need one.

Four years ago a young woman called Victoria became intrigued by the Oxford Street Waterstones Twitter account. It was quirky and humorous and she found herself looking out for the tweets. “I’m in love with whoever’s manning the Waterstones Oxford Street Twitter. Be still my actual beating heart,” she tweeted. The man behind the account was Jonathan O’Brien. A conversation began, initiated by Victoria, over Twitter and then moved into the real world when, after Jonathan tweeted about doughnuts, she went to the shop and hand-delivered a bag of them. This month they got married and last weekend Victoria tweeted an appropriate literary reference – ‘Reader, I married him’ – alongside a photograph of their wedding day. The tweet went viral and before long they were receiving congratulatory messages from thousands of strangers, not to mention interview requests from the media. It’s a love story with a happy ending – with books at its heart. Twitter provided the means but, I like to think, it was books (alright, and doughnuts) which really brought them together.

It’s the perfect plot for a novel itself or a Hollywood romcom – there is sure to be one, or both, inspired by their story before too long. In one of my favourite films of all time When Harry Met Sally, there is a great scene – no, not that one – in which Billy Crystal’s Harry and Meg Ryan’s Sally bump into each other, years after they first met, in a New York bookshop. “There’s someone staring at you in personal growth,” says Sally’s friend Marie (a stand-out performance by Carrie Fisher) who spots Harry across the store. Marie tactfully disappears the minute Harry comes over and leaves the pair together. That meeting proves significant, soon they are on their way to their own happy ending. OK, so the romantic comedy genre requires it, but it is testament to Nora Ephron’s exquisite script, which truthfully portrays as many of the disappointments as the joys in the search for love, that it never feels clichéd. Storytelling has a very particular power and value. The stories we tell ourselves and each other can help us to make sense of a sometimes confusing world. Absorbing stories – in whatever form – and sharing them, connects us with other people. Stories remind us that we are not alone. And the most generous storytellers, who are brave enough to make themselves vulnerable and mine their own personal experience for their novels, films, plays, poetry – or tweets – often reach the most people. The specific becomes universal.