Though I’ve read most of the usual suspects as far as literary classics are concerned, I wanted to broaden my reading to less known classic titles, including more modern novels as well.
I searched online for a good comprehensive book list to work from and found The Guardian’s list of 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read.
Two by two, I’ll review as many books as I can from this list, while I get through them. I’ve unbelievably only read 64 so far though there were several on the list that I *thought* I read a long time ago but wasn’t sure.
Here are the first two reviews – I absolutely loved both novels.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
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I confess that the only novel I’d read by Charles Dickens before this one was A Tale Of Two Cities. Bleak House felt very different both in topic and in tone. My main reason for tackling Bleak House was that I really wanted to see the TV series (available on Amazon Prime), but not without first reading the original.
The story is based on the intertwining destinies of three orphans – Esther Summerson, Ada Clare and Richard Carstone – and their guardian John Jarndyce. The legal case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce serves as backdrop and heavily weighs on their futures, involving Ada and Richard directly as potential heirs. The mystery of Esther’s birth and the scandal that follows its revelation add considerable tension, while she’s also kept busy dealing with multiple suitors for her hand.
The result is a suspenseful saga of perdition for some and revelation for others – which, with its ‘bleak’ English weather would make a great rainy day read. Any fans of George Eliot or Thomas Hardy will find themselves right at home.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
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Rebecca tells the story of a young and naive 20-something woman who falls in love with and marries affluent widower Maxim De Wintour. What starts as an oddly matched love story builds into a thrilling mystery as the figure of Maxim’s former accidentally-drowned wife Rebecca hovers over the newlyweds’ relationship. As our heroine tries to settle into a routine in Maxim’s Cornwall estate of Manderley, the reader learns more about each of our characters – both dead and alive – and they morph like figures in a fun-house, until the final resolution of the mystery.
I didn’t research what to expect from Rebecca before diving into it, and I was definitely surprised at how dark the book ended up being in parts. It’s also full of lusciously beautiful descriptions of the gardens and ocean coves at Manderley though, which act as counterpoint to the tenseness of the atmosphere between the characters and the spookiness of the story. It made me want to read more from the author soon. Her other popular novels include My Cousin Rachel and Jamaica Inn.
The next two books on the list I’m planning on tackling are Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood if you’d like to read along with me.
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