Fictional ‘Power Couples’ and a Real Presidential Election

With America’s presidential election happening in two days, you’re welcome to comment here (before or after November 8) about anything related to that event.

But I also wanted to offer a literature column with some tenuous connection to the election, and came up with the idea of spotlighting fictional “power couples” who are roughly equivalent to Hillary and Bill Clinton — but not necessarily politicians and not necessarily as famous.

The first example I thought of are the two renowned 19th-century poets — Christabel LaMotte and Randolph Henry Ash — who have an affair in A.S. Byatt’s magnificent Possession. That fictional pair is loosely based on actual poets Christina Rossetti and (an amalgam of) Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson.

There’s some sleuthing in Possession, which reminds me that there’s a high-profile couple in various Dorothy L. Sayers novels: wealthy amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey and prominent mystery author Harriet Vane.

Also, we have TV host Doris Dubois and millionaire businessman Barley Salt in Fay Weldon’s The Bulgari Connection — which has a plot driven by Grace McNab Salt, who Barley the jerk divorced to marry the younger, glamorous Doris.

Or how about Mitchell and Abby McDeere in John Grisham’s The Firm? The husband is an attorney in a high-powered (but very suspicious) law firm and the wife a teacher at an elite private school.

Another possible example is Henrietta Stackpole and Mr. Bantling in Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady. There’s no question that journalist Stackpole is well known but it’s uncertain exactly what Mr. Bantling does except be a member of the upper class, which makes him sort of prominent in 19th-century Europe.

Then there’s investigative journalist Mikail Blomkvist and magazine editor/majority owner Erika Berger, who are occasional lovers in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels.

Plus renowned neurosurgeon Rowan Mayfair and successful home restorer Michael Curry, who fall in love in Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour.

And prominent 1930s stunt pilots/lovers Fritzi Jurdabralinksi and Bill Bevins of Fannie Flagg’s The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion — in which Fritzi later becomes a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) during World War II.

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, among the power pairings are the elite “Auror” Nymphadora Tonks and Professor Remus Lupin.

Another academic, marine biologist Humphrey Clark, was once in a relationship with high-profile feminist Ailsa Kelman in The Sea Lady by Margaret Drabble. (She and the aforementioned A.S. Byatt are sisters, making them a prominent family duo of a different sort.)

Who are your favorite power couples in literature? And, again, election comments are welcome!

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I’ve finished and am now rewriting/polishing a book called Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Writers, but am still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.