Book Reviews

Name your favourite ‘classic’ book

The newly-formed Classics Club blog, has thrown down its first challenge to all members – name your favourite classic. The definition of ‘classic’ is wide open which makes the choice even more difficult. I feel a bit like a kid looking at the window of a sweet shop ….

But in true Olympic style here are my three medal winners. All chosen on the basis they are novels I feel I can read over and over and still enjoy either because of their powerful sense  of place or because of the brilliance of narrative style

Bronze Medal

A dead heat between Bronte’s Jane Eyre (what a feisty heroine she is)  and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird.  What they have in common is a protagonist who believes in the truth, and is passionate in their defence of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Silver Medal

Goes to Emile Zola’s Germinal, a novel I was introduced to thanks to an Open University course on the nineteenth century novel. It is not an easy read because the subject matter makes for an uncomfortable experience. At times the microscopic detail with which Zola describes the harsh conditions of the miners brings tears to my eyes. The book has a particular resonance for me since I come from a mining family and can imagine my own ancestors and the horrendous conditions they faced daily.

Gold Medal awarded to George Eliot for her masterful novel of provincial life Middlemarch. I’ve read this novel at least six times and every time I find some new dimension or insight. Eliot may have set the novel in a parochial community but her themes range far and wide – from science to idealism and ambition; political reform and education.  Through the interlocking stories of several families she pursues her own humanist beliefs in the interconnectedness of human lives and her interest in Darwinian science. All of which makes it sound as if its a challenge to read and yet it’s possible to read it as a story of different forms of love and there relationship between men and women.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

4 thoughts on “Name your favourite ‘classic’ book

  • I’ve already realised there are some authors I missed out completely and yet they have written some of the classics – Gissing is one, Samuel Butler’s Erehwon is another. Which now of course means I have to remove two from the current list and I don’t know which. Just shows that this list is going to be a living breathing thing.

  • Dragonflydaydreams

    I’m planning on joining the CC too, but am having trouble putting my list together for all the reasons you mentioned (plus also time – soccer season finals for the boys the past few weeks has seen us out of the house, more than in it!!)
    I love your solution to picking just one favourite, by changing the goalposts. I’ve read and loved all your choices except, Zola…but he is now a contender for my list – thanks.

    • Who was it that said rules are there to be broken?? Hope you like Zola – it’s not a very comfortable read but well worth it

  • Pingback: Sunday Salon: The Classics Challenge « BookerTalk

We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: