First things first, if you haven’t already, sign up to the 2016 Classics Challenge over at prettybooks – it’ll be loads of fun and definitely worth it!
The aim of the challenge is to read One Classic Per Month and then tweet/instagram/blog/vlog about it, answering these questions:
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
WHY I Chose to Read It
WHAT Makes It A Classic
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
WILL It Stay A Classic
WHO I’d Recommend It To
To make this challenge a little harder, I’m going to be only reading books 1. I already own, or 2. are available for free on Kindle. I’m also going to be prioritising books that have been loitering on my Goodreads TBR list for, oh, a few years or so.
Here are my choices (I think):
1 – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (already owned)
Goodreads rating: 4.19
Publication Date: 1938
Goodreads Synopsis: “The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.“
2 – The Princess Bride by William Goldman (already owned)
Goodreads rating: 4.24
Publication Date: 1973
Goodreads Synopsis: “What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?
What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.“
3 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Goodreads Rating: 4.23
Publication Date: 1813
Goodreads Synopsis: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners–one of the most popular novels of all time–that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.
4 – One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (already owned)
Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Publication Date: 1967
Goodreads Synopsis: One of the 20th century’s enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement of a Nobel Prize winning career.
The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.
5 – Tess of the d’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
Goodreads Rating: 3.73
Publication Year: 1891
Goodreads Synopsis: When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.
6 – The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Goodreads Rating: 4.10
Publication Year: 1911
Goodreads Synopsis: What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle’s estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won’t enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty–unaware that she is changing too. But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as Mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.
7 – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Goodreads Rating: 4.08
Publication Year: 1847
Goodreads Synopsis: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.
8 – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
Publication Year: 1878
Goodreads Synopsis: Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.
In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.
9 – North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Goodreads Rating: 4.13
Publication Year: 1854
Goodreads Synopsis: When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction. In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.
10 – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Goodreads Rating: 3.78
Publication Date: 1886
Goodreads Synopsis: In this harrowing tale of good and evil, the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll develops a potion that unleashes his secret, inner persona—the loathsome, twisted Mr. Hyde.
11 – The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Goodreads Rating: 4.03
Publication Date: 1890
Goodreads Synopsis: Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it ﬁrst appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting inﬂuence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”
12 – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Goodreads Rating: 4.o1
Publication Date: 1868
Goodreads Synopsis: Classic novel of 19th-century family life during and after the Civil War, in a household with four sisters. Alcott based the March family largely on her own real-life family.
So there are my choices for this 2016 Classics Challenge!
What books have you chosen? What do you think of my choices? Tweet me @AnnaliseBooks or comment below!
Happy New Year!