Whilst Jane Austen’s most popular book tends to be Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey remains my favourite. Despite its largely unlikable characters, this mock Gothic tale is one that is still funny today, and is a great example of Austen’s classic wit and satire.
9. Watership Down by Richard Adams
Yes, it’s a book about rabbits! But for me this book is so much more, and was a huge favourite of mine when I was a child, as was the film. I know a lot of people say that they find both the book and the film a little disturbing, but I think that’s partly because they do such a good job of showing the cruelty of humans and their disregard for the environment and animals. The book also uses world building that rivals some fantasy novels (the rabbits have their own language, hierarchy, mythology and even their own versions of God and Satan), has great characterisation (which considering the fact that all the characters are non-humans is pretty incredible!), and is an all-round powerful book.
8. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson’s now iconic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a classic tale of doubling, and a chilling one at that, with its unsettling suggestion that beneath every civilised person lies an evil, demonic Mr Hyde…
7. Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Whilst I have never been much of a fan of the huge, weighty novels of Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy’s work is another matter, despite being equally dense (and considerably more depressing!). It was hard to pick between Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Far From The Madding Crowd for this list, but in the end I went for Madding Crowd. I just love the various dynamics between Bathsheba and her three very different suitors, and the relatively happy ending left me with a more satisfied feeling than the grim ending of Tess.
6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s macabre masterpiece is still incredibly chilling today, and is a classic tale about the dangers of playing God. I have always loved the complexity of this novel, as despite Frankenstein’s creature technically being the villain (he kills all the hero’s family members after all!), you feel an immense amount of sympathy for him, whilst kind of hating Frankenstein for his treatment of him.
5. The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells
Like Frankenstein, H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau is all about the consequences of playing God. The hero, Prendick, finds himself shipwrecked on an island inhabited only by the sinister Doctor Moreau, his assistant Montgomery and Doctor Moreau’s horrific creations – the so-called ‘Beast People’, who are animals who have been turned into humans…sort of. It’s an intriguing yet unsettling novel anyway, which really makes you think about what it means to be human.
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is set in 1920s New York, and is a tale of fabulous parties, extravagance and beautiful people. Yet underneath its glamour it exposes the emptiness and hypocrisy of the upper class society of that time, and does so through some of the most beautiful and poignant writing I have ever read.
3. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
This was actually the first book I ever reviewed on this blog, and I gave it a 5/5. It’s still one of my favourite books now, as I love the atmosphere conjured up by the bleak descriptions of the Cornish moors and really like the gutsy heroine Mary Yellan. I have also read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, which was fantastic too, but I felt that the smugglers and shipwrecks of Jamaica Inn were slightly more exciting, and the heroine more dynamic.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte
I’m a huge fan of all three of the Brönte sisters’ work, but Jane Eyre has to be my absolute favourite. I love that Jane isn’t your classic helpless Gothic heroine – she is plain-looking and shy, yet knows her own mind and sticks to her values even when it means losing her chance at love. Mr Rochester also has to be one of my favourite romantic heroes ever, which helps!
1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I am a huge fantasy fan, and this all stems from The Lord of the Rings. As the original epic fantasy, it will always be one of my favourite books, and the world created within it by J.R.R. Tolkien is one that I will continue to return to, over and over again.
So what are your favourite classics?