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The Lost Lenore / Literature

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  • In Alonzo and Melissa, one of the all-time great forgotten cheesy novels, Melissa is this for about half the book.
  • Laura in American Gods. Twice as interesting because even though she appears as an intelligent quasi-zombie throughout the story, she still acts as a Lenore to Shadow.
  • Anno Dracula: Lucy Westenra for Dr. Jack Seward.
  • Derek Harris' first wife Mary is this in Aunt Dimity and the Duke. The novel takes place over five years after her death from pneumonia, and the Duke's reference to the horrors of death by drowning triggers a flashback for Derek. He throws himself into his work, with young Peter covering for his absences and for the drunken housekeeper Derek unwittingly hired. Most of his character development involves his recovery and the budding romance between him and Emma Porter.
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  • Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January novels feature Ayasha, the hero's wife, who died shortly before the beginning of the series. Eleven books and five years later, her (happily remarried) husband still mourns for her.
  • In Bone Song by John Meaney, the protagonist falls in love with a beautiful zombie woman... then, at the end of the novel, she is killed for a second time (zombies can be killed as well), and he spends the entirety of the second novel Dark Blood mourning her.
  • Kyell Gold's Bridges has a gay male version, Hayward's boyfriend Foster died in a car accident four years previous, since then he's played matchmaker to the local gay community while refusing to let himself get into a serious relationship himself. Despite the urging of his roommate, Foster's paraplegic sister Carmila, to move on. It's only after Carmila has a talk with his latest "long-term project", and moves out with her own boyfriend, that Hayward starts to allow himself to move on.
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  • According to Philippa Gregory's interpretation of events in The Constant Princess, Arthur was this to Catalina/Catherine of Aragon.
  • The Cornelius Chronicles: Jerry Cornelius' sister Catherine was also his lover and a Lost Lenore to him.
  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath:
    • Dual example: Aerulan to Brenwyr, and Kinzi to Adiraina. Both pairs were sister-kin (read: secret lesbian wives) and Aerulan and Kinzi were tragically killed in a Ruling Family Massacre.
    • Aerulan's status as a Lenore to Brenwyr is more prominent than Kinzi's to Adiraina. Brenwyr and Aerulan were little more than girls at the time of the massacre. (We don't know exactly how old they were, but probably sometime in late adolescence.) So Aerulan died tragically young, and Brenwyr wasn't old mature enough to be able to cope. Moreover, because Brenwyr was emotionally unstable even before Aerulan died, and Aerulan was a Living Emotional Crutch for her, losing her absolutely shattered Brenwyr.
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    • Conversely, Kinzi and Adiraina were old women at the time of the massacre. So while Kinzi'd death was still tragic, she and Adiraina got a long life together first. And as an old woman, Adiraina was more mature and better able to handle the loss than Brenwyr was. But it still cut deep.
  • Arlova, Rubashov's former secretary in Darkness at Noon. Rubashov recalls her in a sisterly light, but the scent of her body lingers with him, as does the curve of her neck, which may have been where she was shot after he made her take the heat for him.
    "You can do what you like with me," Arlova had said, and so he had done.
  • In Doctrine of Labyrinths, Ginevra functions as this for Mildmay. Her murder sends his life into disarray and continues to haunt him for years, despite the fact that she'd already left him for another man at the time of her death. He doesn't properly start to move on until he solves the mystery of how and why she died, and begins to acknowledge the person she really was instead of clinging to his slightly rose-tinted memory of her.
    • For Mildmay and Felix, Methony is the feckless mother who sold them into slavery and then died before she could offer any explanation, but for Diokletian she absolutely qualifies. He married another woman at some point but openly admits he never loved her that much and is still obsessed with Methony nearly two decades after her death. He even tries to seduce her son, Felix, because he looks so much like her, despite there being a small chance that he himself is Felix's biological father.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry becomes a gender-swapped version of this. After his death in Changes, Murphy utterly refuses to accept that he's gone. (Her Madness Mantra during this time is "They Never Found the Body...he's not dead, I can't believe he's dead.") She goes through life as normal, helping others and protecting Chicago's community from magical threats, but...something in her has just stopped. He comes back to life after six months or so, and Murphy is still depressed. It takes her a while to accept that Harry really is alive because she doesn't want her hopes to get dashed again. This also applies to Molly as he was her mentor in addition to her giant crush on him.
    • In the first few books Harry is still affected by the betrayal and death of his first girlfriend, Elaine Malloroy as seen when Michael brings her up at the beginning of Grave Peril and Harry nearly bites his head off. Michael outright states that he was afraid that Harry would never open himself up to love ever again. Later revealed that she did survive, but let him believe her dead and that her betrayal was due to mind control. Only by the time that happens Harry managed to get over it so that he could fall in love with Susan Rodriguez only for her to promptly become Lost Lenore number two by vampire infection. She survives but her partial transformation renders them unable to continue seeing each other, causing severe depression for years after. As of Changes Harry is forced to personally kill her in order to save their daughter, causing even more angst.
  • Edgar Allan Poe is the Trope Namer with "The Raven," but this shows up a lot in his work, reflecting the death of his own wife, Virginia, at age 24. "Annabel Lee" is probably the other big example.
  • Poke from Ender's Shadow falls under this category, albeit as a platonic love interest due to the characters' young ages.
  • Maria Clara is this to Simoun in El Filibusterismo.
  • The Fourteenth Goldfish: Melvin's wife is this, as he still misses her enough that he's not interested when one of Ellie's new friends starts developing a crush on her.
  • Gone with the Wind:
    • Ellen to everyone in her family, but mostly her husband Gerald.
    • Melanie at the end, to Ashley. Compounding his grief over her is the fact that Ashley never realized how much he loved Melanie and depended on her until it was too late.
  • Harry Potter series
    • In one instance where the Lenore was never his to begin with, Lily Potter ended up like this for Snape, her Unlucky Childhood Friend. She became The One That Got Away when she married James, his worst enemy, and for bonus points, she died as an indirect consequence of his actions, informing his Dark Master about the enemies that he would need to dispose of without knowing that she was one of them, leaving him to pick up the pieces of his guilt and regret.
    • Cedric was this to Cho Chang; she became rather fragile and lonely after he died.
  • In Heart of Steel, the death of one Lauren MacKenzie hit a certain MIT grad and science nut so hard that he had a psychotic break, reinventing himself as a cyborg Mad Scientist named Alistair Mechanus, with no memories of his previous life. When said memories are unlocked late in the novel, the pain is still fresh, almost breaking him again.
  • Naturally, Honor Harrington has a few examples.
    • Paul Tankersley is this to Honor herself. His murder sends her into an emotional tailspin; nearly two decades later and married for ten years to Hamish and Emily Alexander, she's still marked by his death.
    • Javier Giscard becomes this to Eloise Pritchart after his death at Lovat. Her grief for him is enduring and undeniable and irrevocably changes her as a person from that moment on.
  • In How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden, Molly is still grieving for Cassie, her partner who died four years ago, when she begins to fall in love with Cassie's sister, Jordan. A huge plot point is when she makes the last of her regular visits to Cassie's grave and cries for her one last time so she can move on with Jordan.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss' father for her mother, after he was killed in a mining accident. Her mother's resulting The Mourning After depression meant that Katniss was forced to step up and become the chief provider for the family.
  • In Hideyuki Kikuchi's Invader Summer, the main character's abiding love for his deceased not-my-girlfriend is the only thing which keeps him from falling under the spell of the titular invader, unlike every other male who sees her.
  • In Craig Silvey's young adult novel Jasper Jones, Laura Wishart — the girl Jasper is romantically involved with — dies before the events of the novel begin. This death causes Jasper great pain and becomes the focus of the novel, prompting Jasper to seek the help of the novel's protagonist in evading the police and finding Laura's killer.
  • The Leaphorn & Chee series by Tony Hillerman has a mild example. Leaphorn's wife Emma dies of surgical infection in one of the early books. They had been married for decades and Leaphorn never gets over it, thinking of her constantly.
  • The ballad "Lenore" (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger, which is one of the German ballads translated into English most often and was highly influential on various English-speaking writers besides starting a fashion for Gothic ballads in Germany, inverts the pattern: The eponymous heroine is obsessed with her sweetheart Wilhelm, who went off into the Seven Years' War and did not return. She begins to quarrel with God, causing her mother to chide her for her blasphemy. But then one night the dead fiancé returns and asks Lenore to mount up on his horse with him...
  • The titular character's deceased husband in Stephen King's Lisey’s Story.
  • Annabell Leigh for Humbert Humbert in Lolita, complete with several references to the original poem. The reason H.H has his "tastes" is his relationship with her when he was a child and she was a child, which ended in the trope. He falls for Lolita because she looks so much like Annabell.
  • In Loyal Enemies, Tairinn is this to Veres. She was his fellow student at the magic university, they were madly in love with each other, and then he was arrested Taking the Heat for her and she was killed by a werewolf. He became a monster hunter because of that and even years later, she's the woman he's calling when in a high fever. Too bad she never loved him, she feigned her death, the werewolf was her accomplice, and she's the villain of the story.
  • Lan Wangji in Mo Dao Zu Shi spent thirteen years mourning Wei Wuxian before the latter's First Episode Resurrection.
  • Cattie-Brie for Drizzt in The Neverwinter Saga. She dies (along with Regis) due to shock from the magical misfiring of the Spellplauge at the end of The Ghost King and leaves Drizzt adrift emotionally and spiritually. He finds temporary solace in the arms of the wicked and selfish Dahlia, but he realizes quickly that she can never hold a candle to the spiritual and emotional purity of Cattie-Brie. His recognition of Dahlia's selfishness, unending cynicism, and downright evil malice (practically the polar opposite of Cattie-Brie) is what drives a lot of the animosity and story between Cattie-Brie's death and her resurrection and reunion with Drizzt (along with the rest of the Companions) in The Companions Codex.
  • In the works of Nicholas Sparks:
    • Catherine to Garrett in Message in a Bottle.
    • Missy to Miles in A Bend in the Road.
    • Jo to Alex in Safe Haven.
  • Leah Venn is this to her husband in Obsidian Mirror. Her death is what causes him to start experimenting on the mirror.
  • Emily in Jodi Picoult's The Pact.
  • In Powers That Be, the first book of Anne McCaffrey's Petaybee series, the death of Yana's first husband is suggested to be the reason she joined the InterGal's military in the first place (which led to the injuries that led her to be shipped to Petaybee, the company's version of a desk job in a podunk town). Her growing feelings for Sean Shongili bring back memories of Husband #1.
  • Capelo's wife in Probability Sun by Nancy Kress. His enormous rage over her death (killed as a civilian noncombatant by enemy aliens) drives Capelo's interest in the main plot and directly drives an important plot twist.
  • Rebecca plays with this trope. Rebecca seems to be this to her widowed husband Maxim, but it turns out that she was an utterly despicable woman whom he later murdered, and his haunted behavior regarding her death is caused by the strain of having to maintain a facade of devoted mourning and the knowledge that he is unable to be good enough for his innocent young second wife because of this. On the other hand, Rebecca is this trope in Les Yay fashion to her onetime nanny and later housekeeper Mrs. Danvers.
  • In the Redwall series, Luke's murdered wife Sayna is this to him. He even names his ship after her (albeit at the request of their son Martin). He sails away in the Sayna to find the vermin who killed her and avenge her death. Laterose could also be this to Martin, as her death casts a dark shadow over him for the rest of his life.
  • Anne Neville, the late wife of Richard III in the 21st Century. He does eventually end up Happily Married to mom and brilliant inventor Sarah Levine, but he's never fully over Anne. Sarah, fortunately, understands Richard's grief and does what she can to help him.
  • In Jackie Collins's Santangelo series, Gino has a version of this. He falls for a woman named something similar to Lenore. She dumps him and he holds a torch for a while, then he falls for her daughter named Maria. They get married and have two children, then she ends up being murdered by his Mob rival, making her a Stuffed into the Fridge type of this trope.
  • Sandokan: The titular character's dead relatives and Marianna (from The Pirates of Malaysia) are this for Sandokan, who tend to mention both at least once for novel (Marianna even had three ships named after her). Ada Corishant becomes this for Tremal Naik but in a lesser way, as he still has a daughter from her.
  • In Sard Harker, Don Miguel's entire life is shaped by the misuse and death of his fiancée Senorita Carlotta de Leyva de San Jacinto at the hands of Don Lopez and his men.
  • In The Secret Garden, Archibald Craven fell into a deep depression when his wife Lilias died, ironically from an accident in the very garden that she loved so much; as a result, he had the garden locked up and now spends most of his time overseas. About 40% through the book we learn some more, namely that Lilias actually died in childbirth after the accident, and that their sickly son, Colin, has been neglected and spoiled due to his father's grief.
  • Deliciously parodied by Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events where Beatrice serves as this for the narrator.
  • In Star Carrier: Earth Strike, Admiral Alexander Koenig's lover Admiral Karyn Mendelsson gets all of two scenes before being killed offscreen when the Turusch launch an extreme-range kinetic attack on several objects in the Sol System. For the next two books, Koenig misses her so much that he keeps her image and personality as the avatar for his personal AI.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Lyanna Stark, mourned by her ex-betrothed Robert Baratheon.
    • Joanna for Tywin Lannister. Her Death by Childbirth is one of the main reasons Tywin hates his son Tyrion so much.
    • Rhaegar Targaryen for Cersei Lannister. Although the attraction was one-sided, Cersei loved him either way and was devastated by his death. While her incest with Jamie long predated her love for Rhaegar, it would have probably not turned into something serious had her betrothal to Rhaegar been approved, and her children with Jaime (including Joffrey) would have probably never been born. Her marriage to Robert, already soured by his continued pining for Lyanna, was further doomed because Cersei never forgave Robert for killing Rhaegar, which, in turn led to the aforementioned deepening relationship with Jaime. In A Feast for Crows, Cersei's narration makes it clear that she still pines for Rhaegar.
    • Khal Drogo for Daenerys Targaryen. Although he appears as a living character throughout A Game of Thrones, he dies at the end of it and as a result is absent for the rest of the series. Drogo takes Daenerys' virginity without resorting to Marital Rape License (which she appreciates), teaches her to come out of her shell after living with an abusive brother for thirteen years, giving her the necessary skills she will need as a politician, and fathers her only human child. By the end of their marriage, Drogo is Daenerys' "sun and stars", and after his death, she thinks that she will probably never fall in love with another man again, much like how she can never have another human child. Daenerys also names her largest dragon after him.
  • A Tale of...: An ugly side of this trope is seen in Cold Hearted, which is the backstory of Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine. Cinderella’s father, Richard, married Lady Tremaine for her money, and for her to care for his child. However, he is stilly fiercely loyal to his first wife, whose pictures and possessions he retains long after his second wife moves in. He forbids Cinderella to call Lady Tremaine “Mama”, and declares that his first wife will always be the owner of the house, no matter who else he marries. This loyalty to his first wife’s memory, however, means that Lady Tremaine is treated more as a nanny for his daughter than as a wife and lady of the house, allowed no freedom to do as she wishes.
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Times seven.
  • In Warrior Cats:
    • Spottedleaf to the main character Fireheart. After being killed in the first book, she serves as something of a Spirit Advisor for him (and later his descendants), and his ongoing feelings for her make him unaware of Sandstorm's affection for him until Cinderpelt tells him outright. Even then, it takes Spottedleaf giving her blessing twice before he feels free to love Sandstorm and be sure that he's not "betraying" his love for Spottedleaf.
    • Graystripe's mate Silverstream: after a short forbidden romance, she dies while giving birth to his kits. He leaves ThunderClan for a while to raise their kits in her Clan, RiverClan, which has a big impact on his best friend Fireheart. Although Silverstream's death affects Graystripe for a long time, he eventually does find love again a few years later between the second and third series, and Silverstream herself supports the new relationship as it means he's happy again.
  • The Wicked Years:
    • Fiyero for Elphaba, after being killed by the Gale Force.
    • Word of God is Glinda had feelings for Elphaba. After her death, Glinda is portrayed as quite distraught over Elphaba.
  • Ankaa for Virgil in Within Ruin.
  • Susan Delgado in Wizard and Glass. Roland continues to mourn for her throughout the remainder of The Dark Tower series, and her memory is also a significant part of the Marvel prequels.
  • Cathy Earnshaw to both Heathcliff and Edgar Linton in the second half of Wuthering Heights.
  • Henrik Wergeland wrote a sweet variation of this after he got Happily Married to Amalie Sofie. In this poem, he reminisces about a girl he once loved, long dead, who suddenly appears to him, presenting herself as "Yours and hers angel", set to keep an eye on them to secure their happiness. A sweeter solution to the trope can hardly be found.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs: Joe's mother got sick and died some years before the beginning of the story. Her death drove her husband to drink heavily, which in turn led to him abusing his son until Joe was rescued and brought to the children's colony where he lived his great adventure.
  • Johannes Cabal: The title character turned to Necromancy after the love of his life drowned in an accident, sparking the events of the series, and his overriding goal is to return her to true life. It slips into deconstruction as he's challenged on whether he's doing it for her or for himself, and, given that she goes unnamed until the final book, to what extent he remembers her as a person at all instead of a symbol of the life he left behind and an excuse to commit villainous acts. Ultimately, when he has a chance to resurrect her, he forfeits it to someone else.

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