Bleak House by Charles Dickens
The story of Bleak House follows the legal case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, where the Jarndyce inheritance is gradually eaten away by legal costs. And then there is Esther Summerson, and the mystery of where she came from. This is one of the first English novels to feature a detective. As usual for a Charles Dickens novel, there is a huge cast of characters representing both the rich and the poor of London at the time. Bleak House is extremely atmospheric with it’s descriptions of London being enveloped by fog. This murder story comes to a climax with a thrilling chase led by the detective.
First published in 1853
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
This is the story of how science can go dangerously wrong, when a science student assembles a human from stolen body parts. But when he brings it to life, he is horrified to see the creatures hideousness. That creature lives a tormented life, lonely and isolated, until it turns to evil in order to get revenge over his creator.
I was a bit hesitant when my bookclub chose to read this book, as it held no interest for me at all. That is until I read it and loved it. I’ve since read it again and enjoyed it even more on the second read. There is much more than a horror story in Frankenstein. There is romance, sorrow, sadness, pity. And there is beautiful writing. Such beautiful writing, that evokes many emotions and feeling towards the creature that was created.
First Published in 1818
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is an unforgettable novel about a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis that almost destroyed the town and it’s people. The story is told by six year old Jean Louise Finch and is based on an event that happened close to the author’s home town when she was 10 years old. The story of To Kill a Mockingbird is dreadful, shocking, extremely sad, but also deeply moving and compassionate. There has been much written about this book over the years so there is really not much to say. Except that the story covers racism, prejudice, rape and other base human behaviours. But there is also the story of a father’s love for his family which is very touching.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view” – To Kill A Mockingbird
First Published July 1960
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
When marriage was the only option for a female, it was often necessary for her to conform to what society expected of her. Elizabeth Bennett definitely does not conform. This is a 19th century romance, but it is much, more than that. After reading Pride and Prejudice you will understand more about love and family life in the 1800s, and also about the societal expectations of the times. The verbal sparring between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is legendary, but I never tire of reading the words thrown out by both. I would classify this book as the best romantic comedy that I have ever read. Nothing else comes close.
First published January 28 1813.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This is the only novel written by Emily Bronte, who died in the year after it was first published, at the age of 30. Set in Yorkshire Wuthering Heights is the story of a love that is stronger than death, written in a unique and mystical way. There are characters who are unlikeable, being self centred, irrational, mean, malicious and worse, which to me, makes the story all the more absorbing. Wuthering Heights has become a classic of English Literature and in my opinion well deservedly so.
I found it incredibly difficult to write a review on books that over the years have become classics. What more could I possibly add to what has been said already? All I have tried to do here is give a sense of the book and one or two of my thoughts. This post is not a book review post, but quite simply a list of my favourite books.
I found it so hard to limit this list to five, and they are not listed in any particular order. There are so many classics that I love and occasionally re-read. But at the moment, these five novels are my favourite classics of all time.
Do you have a favourite classic? I’d love you to leave a comment and tell me about it. I promise to answer all comments.