Please welcome Nicole from Linus’s Blanket today as she shares a few of the classics that she loves, and why you can enjoy them too!
When Meghan mentioned that she was going to be delving into the classics this month with Tasha from Heidenkind’s Hideaway, I was very excited. Classics are often pushed as bearing a standard among books. They can be used in order to judge whether a person is well-read, and as a means of learning life lessons, problem solving and being able to navigate in the world. I didn’t feel like it helped me accomplish any of those things when I read them as a teen. After having mixed results reading classics in high school and in college, I have been dipping into them a little bit more over the past couple of years.
I have grappled with the issues of whether I find them pleasurable to read, and worthwhile in the sense that they pose relevant thoughts on issues still being examined and debated today, and if they shed any light into issues that I have encountered in my life. While some classics have threads of relevant social issues, others were a far cry from interesting me or readily accessible to read (Frankenstein, Silas Marner, The Scarlett Letter – I’m looking at you). In my search for the good ones, I have found a few that have hit the trifecta for me in terms of being readable, relatable and just plain enjoyable.
Lady Audley’s Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Lady Audley’s Secret made quite a splash by exploring the idea that a woman could be a serious threat to domesticity and a happy home. Lady Audley has secrets from her husband, and his son Robert Audley suspects her of being a murderess, which was unheard of for women of her social standing at the time. I found this book to be very easy to get into, and I loved the whole who dunnit aspect of the novel. Lady Audley is invested in her happiness and seizes the life that she wants by her own power, even if by nefarious means. It was an interesting to see a plausible rendition of a woman doing this in Victorian times, and even more so being that it was penned by a female author. There is more that I could say about this wonderful novel, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who wants to read it.
The Great Gatsby – I remember reading this in high school, and even with the teacher giving his spiel, I still really had no idea what it was about. The most that I remembered about it was that we watched the movie in class and everyone wore that crazy flapper gear. Reading Gatsby as an adult, I was really able to appreciate the intricacies of the storyline- the class distinctions, the recklessness of the wealthy, and the love that fuels one man’s goals to become wealthy and powerful not understanding that he can never be as his beloved would wish. Even though there were no innocents in this timely story, I have to admit that I felt for Gatsby and the fact that no matter what he did he already wasn’t good enough and would never belong. He went to great lengths to get the love of his life, and it pretty much wrecked his life. This is a great read and it’s easy to relate to unrequited love, and past traumas providing the drive for great achievement.
Pride & Prejudice – I almost didn’t put this on my list because it is such an obvious choice for me (and for many!), but I also felt that to have left it off would be disingenuous. I don’t think that I have read any other book as much as I have read this one. Over the years my readings have changed and whom my sympathies lie with now are different than what they once were (right now I seem to be in Darcy’s camp, and think that Elizabeth was too hard him), but the conversational tone of the novel is so engaging and the themes so absolutely timeless that it is hard to not come back to this again and again. Who can’t sympathize with an overbearing mother, insufferable relatives, and falling in love with someone who doesn’t fit with all of your expectations, much less your families? I think it’s fortunate that in this lovely novel, everything works out in the end (as we all hope that it might in our own lives when we are facing similar situations). Pride and Prejudice is so good, that each time I read it it, I get all caught up again, even though I know exactly what will happen. Isn’t that a riot?
So how about you? Do you agree with any of my choices? What classics do you find to be readable, relatable and enjoyable?