About a year ago I fell in love with the Penguin English Library Editions classics. They are beautiful and bright but still classic looking, and they all incorporate the traditional orange colour of Penguin First Editions, which I love. I decided I wanted to start my own collection of these editions, and so I slowly started to re-buy my favourite classics in this new edition, and also purchased new novels I had never read before.
I thought I would show you my current collection, explaining which novels I have read and what I thought of them, and which I am hoping to read soon.
Emma by Jane Austen
I read this novel a couple of years ago, and while it is not one of my personal favourites, this is Jane Austen’s comic social commentary at its best. Emma Woodhouse is rich and spoilt, yet charming. She is obsessed with matchmaking lovers, and this leads her into all sorts of trouble. Emma is a seriously flawed character but I enjoyed that, and she stands out to me as one of Austen’s most memorable characters.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This is one of my favourite classics of all time, and I have read it three times now. Lizzy Bennet is a lovable, lively and strong-willed protagonist, and following her life and love story – as well as the other eclectic side characters – is deeply engrossing and enjoyable. This novel is moving but also comic and witty, and I am sure I will continue to reread it throughout my life.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I loved this novel; it is my second favourite by Jane Austen. It tells the story of Anne Elliot who was persuaded to break off her engagement with the man she loved, because he was not successful enough; then, years later, he returns. This is a touching love story that makes you deeply care about, and relate to, the characters. Jane Austen’s writing is, as always, masterly and beautiful.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I have read this novel a couple times, both when I was younger and last year, and neither time have I enjoyed it very much. Filled with wordplay, parody and riddles, there were moments I could appreciate and even found funny, and I could relate to some of Alice’s poignant childhood moments. Nevertheless, the nonsensical Wonderland became frustrating, and after a while of following no story line with no obvious structure, I quickly became bored.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This is another one of my favourite classics which explores themes ahead of its time, such as classism, religion and sexuality. Jane is a wonderfully individual protagonist who is extremely intelligent and defiant. She refuses to accept her determined place in society, and we see her develop into adulthood and find love on her own terms, which is inspiring and insightful.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I read this novel last year – it being my first Dickens novel and so I had high hopes – and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed Dickens’ traditional story-like writing and all of his well-developed and interesting characters – especially his villains, gang-master Fagin and the thug Bill Sykes. Furthermore, Dickens’ angry depiction of poverty in London at this time was fascinating. I hope to read more Dickens soon.
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
This is the newest addition to my collection, and I haven’t read it yet. I have been intrigued by (and recommended often) Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, and I am hoping to enjoy and get into the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
I read this novel fairly recently (see a full review of it under the Classics category!), and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a wonderful story following the self-discovery of young Lucy Honeychurch, as she is torn between the exciting, romantic experiences she had on her first trip to Italy, and the repressive way of life in English middle-class society. Ultimately, this is an uplifting, optimistic love story.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I read this novel a few years ago now, but it has certainly stuck with me. This is a captivating Gothic tale that follows Victor Frankenstein, a man who seeks to create a new being out of bodies of the dead. This novel is haunting and gripping, and the descriptive writing is absolutely beautiful. I hope to reread this novel at some point in the future.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
I haven’t gotten round to reading this one yet, but it is high on my priority list. I am intrigued by the dark psychological aspect of this novel’s premise, and while I have heard mixed reviews of this novel, I am excited to read it soon.