Thursday, 26 December 2013

Classics Club Meme: December

The question this month is a repeat from August 2012 which is before I joined the club. It's actually quite a tricky one and I'm glad we can list multiple! I would definitely struggle to limit it to just one. My favourites always change, it depends on my mood and my current life circumstances (I think that explains why I have such complicated histories with four out of five books in this list). These five are the books that always spring to mind when I'm asked about favourites and, though occasionally another book may push its way to the top of the pile, these five never cease to amaze me.

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?



  1. I adore Joe Gargery too! Such a combination of sweetness and dignity. Virginia Woolf, now--To the Lighthouse is one that I've picked up and put down a couple of times. I haven't been attracted to the opening pages, and so haven't continued with it. But people do love it so, I keep it in the back of my mind. Kind of the opposite of my experience with Les Mis, lol.

  2. All I remember from To the Lighthouse is beautiful writing. Just beautiful. I don't remember much of the story, but I guess that's normal for things written by Virginia Woolf...

    I'm yet to read The Great Gatsby in English, I've read it in translation twice and still think I'm missing something.

    Of course your list wouldn't be complete without a bit o' Wilkster in it :))

  3. Such awesome choices! I haven't answered this one yet either because it's so hard. Great Expectations would definitely be on my list but it's probably not very surprising. lol


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