I thought I’d start a series outlining some of my all time favourite novels. There are so many and to do any justice to the series, I need to create separate categories.
I thought I’d start with the classics. Generally, the purists will classify these as literary fiction. This is a term I prefer not to use but they are typified by their complex characters and multilayered themes.
I read on average about 60-70 books a year. I don’t read a lot of literary fiction nor classics. However, I do try to ensure I read at least one. At the moment I’m tossing up “The Great Gatsby” or “Les Miserables” as they both have movies coming out soon.
I studied English Literature at university as a sub-major to my Economics degree, having fallen in love with the classics at high school. I am reader who likes to read everything that an author writes, so my Top 5 reflects the status of the author in my estimation as the particular novel. The selected novel below is in effect, my favourite of that particular author.
A Top 5 of anything is really only good for today as there is a very strong likelihood that it would change next week. Trying to limit to five is extremely difficult. So here goes.
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
This wouldn’t change and has been my all time favourite novel since reading it as a teenager. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read it. However, it has been many years since I last read it.
A friend of mine recently declared she read it every Christmas, which is a nice habit. I was almost tempted to join her this year but my reading pile is so large at present I think it will have to wait.
I love Elizabeth Bennett, Austen’s heroine. I’m drawn to women who display both vulnerability and strength of character, both in fiction and in person. Elizabeth is a fabulous demonstration of both of these characteristics.
Yes, Austen’s language both woos me in its eloquence and subtle tongue-in-cheek humour.
- Sons and Lovers – DH Lawrence
Lawrence describes the grittiness of family life in a Northern England mining community in the early twentieth century with raw intensity. He draws you in so quickly you develop an empathy or antipathy for each of the key characters.
Paul Morel, the miner’s son, escapes for another life, however, his ties to his mother are so strong, it’s extremely difficult for him to fully withdraw.
Lawrence is artistic in his language and provides vivid imagery through all of his work.
- The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
Fowles explores how our perceptions of what others think of us play a significant role in the decisions we make. He uses a number of stylistic conventions to present a multi-layered suspenseful drama featuring three different endings.
The movie adaptation featuring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons is excellent in capturing the multiple layers and endings. And it features Meryl Streep.
- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
This was one of my first year novels and I was gripped by the Gothic romance of it. Sure, playing God is never a good idea but how we as humans reject those we don’t understand or are different to us, is so compellingly depicted in this novel.
I found I was cheering for the monster, as odd as that may sound.
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien
I started with The Hobbit because it’s bite-sized in comparison to the LOTR trilogy. I loved Bilbo Baggins tale and it was easy for me to move onto the trilogy.
I’ve read LOTR two or three times and it was amazing how each time I found things I missed previously. They are so detailed in their descriptions.
The storyline is an eternal one of good and evil with some majestic characters that have become fiction folklore.
So that’s my Top 5. But what about “Great Expectations”, “Middlemarch”, “Ulysses”, and “Tess of D’Urbervilles”? Where does one stop? Gotta draw a line in the sand, even if just for today. The line might move tomorrow.
So what are yours? I’d love to know them.
Next post I’ll feature another Top 5. Not sure which category yet. Stay tuned.