My Top 5….. ‘Classic’ Novels

Top 5 Classic novels

Hey guys! First of all thank you all so much for reading and enjoying my heartless review, I always love to hear from you guys so it was really nice to get some lovely comments. This week I have decided to do a countdown of my top five favourite ‘classic’ novels, so enjoy!

5. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

 “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

The Great Gatsby is a novel centred around Jay Gatsby, and based in America during the Jazz Age. Written from the perspective of Nick Carraway it follows Jay Gatsby as he seeks to reunite with his love Daisy Buchanan. Its novel of love and heartbreak as well as being a social commentary, depicting the loneliness that can follow a live of overindulgence and luxury.

I first read the Great Gatsby for the first year of my English literature a level and loved it so much that I decided to use it for my feminist coursework in the second year. I’ve read it a thousand times over now and each time I do, I depict different meanings from Fitzgerald’s words. The beauty of this novel comes from Fitzgerald’s writing, rather than the plot itself. Whilst the plot is intriguing, it is the richness of Fitzgerald’s descriptions of the scenery and the lavish lifestyle, as well as the unreliable narration of Nick Carraway, that makes this such a compelling novel. The setting of the Jazz Age is vastly explored, touching upon issues such as the class divide and the prohibition, making you feel like you’ve gone back in time whist reading this novel. You also never know who to trust whilst reading the book – the only character you come to care about is Gatsby, but you only learn about him through the eyes of Nick, a character who clearly idolised him, causing you to wonder – was Gatsby truly this ‘great’ man? Or are we only reading this distorted view of him? Overall, this is a wonderful book full of intrigue and heartbreak and rich descriptions by Fitzgerald.

4. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year”

A Christmas carol, set in Victorian England, is about an old miser called Scrooge who, on Christmas eve, is visited by four ghosts – his old business partner Marley, the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present and the ghost of Christmas future.

This is the definition of a classic! Countless tv and film remakes have been made of this book and its impossible to grow up in England without knowing this classic Christmas tale. Maybe it’s because I’m completely obsessed with Christmas but I just adore this story. I love the setting of a Victorian Christmas time and Dickens has created truly memorable characters. Scrooge is possibly one of the most famous literary characters ever written, and its common place in England to tell people to stop being such a scrooge, when they’re being miserable at Christmas. The Cratchits, are also an extremely well known fictional family, full of warmth and love, with little Tiny Tim uttering the famous words ‘god bless us, everyone.’ I also adore the general over all message of the novel about carrying the generous and joyous spirit of Christmas with you, all year long. Dickens fondness of Christmas shines through in the book, making it a warm, festive novel that is short enough to be re-read every Christmas.

3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier 

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Rebecca is centred around a young woman who marries Mr De Winter and focuses around her paranoia concerning Rebecca – Mr De Winters deceased ex-wife. It’s a novel focused almost primarily around the lead characters paranoia that her husband doesn’t love her, and is still in love with Rebecca, and homes in on her feelings of inadequacy, which are only increased by the character of Mrs Danvers.

I have read Rebecca the most recently out of any of the novels on this list and it is utterly compelling. The first half of the novel is focused completely on how inadequate and out of place the lead character feels at Manderley, as she compares herself (and believes everyone else is comparing her) to Rebecca. The feelings of inadequency are honed into the reader by the fact that we never learn the lead characters name – whilst the name ‘Rebecca’ appears to pop up every two minutes we never learn of our narrator’s name, emphasising how she feels, completely invisible, in the shadow of Rebecca’s ghost. The second half of the novel, becomes a lot more plot based in comparison to the atmospheric first half following a big twist. Of course, I cannot reveal what this twist is but it is one of those rare twists that audibly makes you gasp and eagerly look for someone to took about it with. The mix of atmosphere and plot make this novel a brilliant read, and my third favourite classic novel.

3. Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

This novel follows the life of Jane Eyre, from an isolated ten year old orphan, living with a family that dislikes her to a strong governess who falls in love with Edward Rochester, in nineteenth century England.

This novel is a lot more exciting than it sounds from the summary that I have given. Jane Eyre is one of the most famous English novels ever written, full of atmosphere, heart break and a surprising element of feminism, it has compelled readers for hundreds of years. It’s not just a straight forward love story, its full of emotion and a dark twist, making it a novel that you just can’t put down. One of the absolute highlights of this novel for me, is the character of Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte was defiantly an early feminist, creating a character who claims that she will not be ensnared, and declaring that women feel just as men feel. At the time at which the novel was written this was quite shocking, and the novel caused quite an outrage due to the strength and outspoken nature shown by the titular character. You root for Jane simply because you admire her strength, in a time when women were supposed to be gentle and fragile or else scolded by society. But the plot itself is also intriguing enough by itself. The story is full of twists and turns, making it a book that you can’t put down because you can’t wait to see what happens next, making it different to books such as the great Gatsby, where you look forward to reading it just to immerse yourself in Fitzgerald’s descriptions rather than the story itself. Thus, Jane Eyre, is a compelling read, centred around a strong, admirable young woman.

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

Wuthering Heights follows the destructive journey of the anti-hero Heathcliff as he seeks revenge for losing his one love Catherine to Edgar Linton. It’s often described as a romance novel, but this, in my opinion, is not true, it is a dark gothic story of revenge and betrayal set in the moors of 19th century England.

I love love love this book! This novel is very much a love or hate book, my mother and I adore it, whilst my old English teacher and my Nan hated it. One thing my nan and my old English teacher had in common was that they both loved Jane Austen, and I think this may be a reason they didn’t like Wuthering Heights. I like Austen, but her novels are a lot more ‘flowery’ than the dark story of Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights is twisted, and angsty and there is not one single likeable character in the book. But for me, the fact that no characters are likeable, makes the novel better, as you root for Heathcliff as he acts out his revenge, as you feel as if these characters deserve what they get. I love books with a bit of grit, which is why I like books by the Bronte sisters and one of my favourite aspects of this novel, is the atmosphere that Bronte creates. The dark, windy marshes and moors all adds to the intensity of the story, making this my number one classic novel


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