I’m a big fan of reading classics. There’s something about reading a book from the past, that really grabs my attention. Perhaps it’s reading the diverse language in particular, because it’s always interesting and a bit of a challenge at times.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s compassionate, richly dramatic novel features one of the most original and fully-rounded female characters in Victorian fiction, Margaret Hale. It shows how, forced to move from the country to an industrial town, she develops a passionate sense of social justice, and a turbulent relationship with mill-owner John Thornton.
Dickens’ first novel was a huge success when it was first published. It tells the tale of the irrepressible Mr. Pickwick and his fellow Pickwick Club members who travel around the English countryside getting into all kinds of scrapes and adventures. Funny, warm-hearted, and full of memorable and engaging characters, this is an enchanting novel that continues to delight readers today.
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation.
London, 1936. Gordon Comstock has declared war on the money god; and Gordon is losing the war. Nearly 30 and “rather moth-eaten already,” a poet whose one small book of verse has fallen “flatter than any pancake,” Gordon has given up a “good” job and gone to work in a bookshop at half his former salary. Always broke, but too proud to accept charity, he rarely sees his few friends and cannot get the virginal Rosemary to bed because (or so he believes), “If you have no money … women won’t love you.” On the windowsill of Gordon’s shabby rooming-house room is a sickly but unkillable aspidistra–a plant he abhors as the banner of the sort of “mingy, lower-middle-class decency” he is fleeing in his downward flight.
Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love.
As Ishmael is drawn into Captain Ahab’s obsessive quest to slay the white whale Moby-Dick, he finds himself engaged in a metaphysical struggle between good and evil.
Michael Henchard is an out-of-work hay-trusser who gets drunk at a local fair and impulsively sells his wife Susan and baby daughter. Eighteen years later Susan and her daughter seek him out, only to discover that he has become the most prominent man in Casterbridge. Henchard attempts to make amends for his youthful misdeeds but his unchanged impulsiveness clouds his relationships in love as well as his fortunes in business. Although Henchard is fated to be a modern-day tragic hero, unable to survive in the new commercial world, his story is also a journey towards love.
Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.
Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with far-away remembrances. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices she has made, hesitantly looking ahead to growing old.