CLASSICS I RECOMMEND

Discover the works of the masters, such as The Brontes, Dickens, Elliot, Fitzgerald, Hugo, Joyce, Steinbeck, Tolstoy and Wharton. Discover compelling stories by lessor-known authors such as Elizabeth Gaskell. You can get FREE downloads of many of these books in e-book format through Amazon if you read on a Kindle.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

By Charles Dickens

An old man is finally released from a brutal French prison and is reunited with his daughter. Daughter falls in love with one man, while another man secretly pines for her. All the while the French Revolution is slowly churning to a boil.

 

Excellent character development amidst a background of the Haves vs the Have-Nots. When the uprising comes, what will one man do for the woman he loves?

 

This is a must-read, and should be read slowly so you don't miss a thing. "A Tale of Two Cities" is truly Dickens's masterwork!

THE AGE OF INNOCENCE

By Edith Wharton

A must-read! I have already recommended this to so many people. It is a romance, yes... but so much more. Takes place in a time when honor was everything and doing the right thing was everything, and relationships were not considered disposable (as it is too often nowadays). This is a thoughtful and complex examination of love in its many forms, and about sacrifice and faith.

Andersonville

A Story of Rebel Military Prisons

By John Mackelroy

Detailed and disturbing true account of one man's experience as a Union prisoner at the infamous Andersonville Prison. Hard to put down and even harder to forget.


THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of the best of Fitzgerald's works. The idle son of a wealthy family meets an equally idle woman and they party their years away in anticipation of his inheritance. Of course, the inheritance ends-up going elsewhere instead of to the self-absorbed young man. Will the lazy bugger win his case in court? What happens to him if he wins?

 

And... speaking of Fitzgerald, you really MUST read:

BERNICE BOBS HER HAIR

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

(a short story)

This is a hilarious story about teenage vanity, and the most delicious revenge a girl could enact upon a less than friendly peer.

DUBLINERS

By James Joyce

James Joyce's "DUBLINERS" is an exceptional collection of stories/portraits about some of the residents of Dublin, Ireland early in the 20th century. Joyce's writing is lyrical, intimate and insightful. His characters run the gamut from very poor to very wealthy, and all have their personal battles, triumphs, and jarring revelations. I had heard of this book for years, but never read it because I was intimidated by the fear that his writing would be difficult to understand. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth! Joyce writes in a modern tone that is easy to read and understand. His characters could easily be people from our present day, as their situations transcend time and cultures. This is a book to be read one or two stories at a time (the better to reflect upon). As a whole, DUBLINERS is both astounding and fulfilling. I highly - highly - recommend this classic to all readers!

WUTHERING HEIGHTS

By Emily Bronte

A favorite! Read the book first if you haven't already seen the movie versions. There is so much more here than in most of the movie versions. The real satisfaction is seeing Catherine's daughter (also named Catherine) and Catherine's nephew Hareton rise above their dysfunctional parents' angst.

 

My personal opinion is that this story would have been better and more believably told as the writer's narrative instead of as a series of recollections by characters who were acquainted with the two protagonists. That's just my opinion. You may or may not agree.


WAR AND PEACE

By Leo Tolstoy

Set in Russia during Napoleon's invasion, this saga follows multiple characters and how their lives change when Napoleon's forces attempt to conquer Russia.

 

This is a long read, and would have been an easier read if Tolstoy had introduced all the characters gradually instead of all at once at the very beginning. That said, the story is very good with much drama and a good dash of humor. Most people expect the writing to be intimidating. Not so.

 

However, I found the ending unsatisfying, as if Tolstoy did not know where to go from there. Still, it is an enjoyable read and a real education in a part of history few know about or understand. The e-book is free on Amazon, so it costs nothing to give it a try.

NORTH AND SOUTH

By Elizabeth Gaskell

The title refers to the north and south counties of England, the north industrial, the south rural. Young woman from south is forced to move with her family to a northern industrial town where she butts heads with a mill owner.

 

Themes include workers' rights; the tragic conditions of the poor and oppressed (most of whom are very honorable people); rampant disease (affecting all classes); unrequited love; familial devotion; spiritual faith; the price of success.

 

Hard to put down. Well developed characters in a character-driven story. Thoughtful, sometimes disturbing, and often romantic.

 

Historical setting: early 1800's.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

By Jane Austin

The familiar plot of man meets woman, both can't stand each other, yet both are attracted to each other. Austin tackles this with plenty of humor. The main characters have depth, and secrets abound.

 

You have probably seen one or more of the many theatrical and television versions of "Pride and Prejudice," but give the original novel a read for a deeper understanding of the characters and their inner struggles.


LES MISERABLES

By Victor Hugo

You must have lived in a cave all your life if you have not heard of this tome or the fantastic stage musical. Hugo's magnificent saga has also been adapted to the screen many times. Only once has any screen version told the entire story; that was the early 1930's French version, which ran for a whopping 240 minutes.

 

Hugo's book is an astounding tale of social injustice, social unrest, redemption (both achieved and unattainable), love and loyalty. The many characters are very well-defined and multi-faceted, just like real people. We come to love many, hate others, and then learn to love the characters we hate.

 

If you have not yet read this masterpiece, put it on your bucket list. The stage and film adaptations are good, but Hugo's original written work is absolutely bursting with historical background and settings, ironic humor, and a compelling cast of characters who stay with you long after you read the final page.

THE COMPLETE STORIES AND POEMS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE

by Edgar Allan Poe

 It's all here: Eerie classics such as THE TELL-TALE HEART, THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, THE PREMATURE BURIAL, etc. Poems including, ANNABEL LEE, TO MY MOTHER, THE VALLEY OF UNREST, SPIRITS OF THE DEAD, THE HAUNTED PALACE, THE CONQUEROR WORM, and his famous THE RAVEN.

 

Includes a short biography of the Master himself  on the inside flaps of the dust cover (1966 hardcover edition).

 

 

THE GRAPES OF WRATH

by John Steinbeck

 

OF MICE AND MEN

by John Steinbeck