What is your favourite classic?
1. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Not going to go into this one, we all know my feelings for Wilkie...
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I always thought Dickens was a giant pain in rear who used a million words where one would do and wrote sentences that were considerably longer than they needed to be or even should be. Whilst all that may be true, he also had a wonderful knack for storytelling and creating unforgettable characters. Joe Gargery, anyone? Best fictional character EVER.
3. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
I've studied this novel twice at two different levels and loved it both times. Rebecca West has a ridiculous skill for evoking shell shock and demonstrating the impact it can have on all those around. The final lines of this novel are still stuck in my head (and fuelled my obsession with neurasthenia that overtook me during my MA).
4. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Again, another novel I've studied twice (British universities are not known for their variety). I can read this novel in any mood and it will always show me something different. I can learn new things and be shown new ways of looking at the world. Woolf's language is completely stunning and the middle section, 'Time Passes', has some of my favourite pieces of writing ever. For someone who was terrified of Woolf until I hit about 21, it's quite impressive she has so prominent a position in my favourites.
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Oh look, another novel I've studied twice! Come on, British education system, learn some new tricks (or don't, given you've introduced me to most of my favourites). I hated Gatsby the first time I read it at A Level. The people were vapid, shallow and generally quite mean. The story was boring and not engaging whatsoever. Fast forward a year to my first year of uni, reading Gatsby again with a lecturer who would not let me sink to the back of the class and hide (FYI, she is the reason I did not drop out of uni when I very nearly wanted to). Gatsby came alive for me - the people had new depths, the story new intricacies and suddenly I could not let go of the novel. Now, I have a cheeky re-read whenever I can.
Have you read any of these? Do any of them have a place in your favourites?