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Updated by tony-12 on Jul 31, 2019
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Top ten favourite ‘classic’ novels

I have very loosely defined ‘classics’ as books that were first published at least 50+ years ago and are likely to be chosen as a set text in GCSE, A level or university courses. Here are my selection.

A Christmas Carol (Wordsworth Classics)

A very short book by Dicken’s standards but the story of Scrooge and his ghostly visitations lives in the British psyche to this day. I even enjoyed ‘A Muppets Christmas Carol’!

Pride & Prejudice (Wordsworth Classics)

I didn’t think that I would choose a Jane Austen novel, being force-fed her work at school, but I have to admit that the love story of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is cleverly and beautifully told.

The Grapes of Wrath

An epic story of a family’s struggle through the Great Depression in the southern states of the USA.

Of Mice and Men (Penguin Classics) (Penguin Red Classics)

A very short but powerful story of a man with learning difficulties and his brother’s support.

Anna Karenina (Penguin Classics)

I read this book because I felt that I should read some Tolstoy but War and Peace was too daunting! In Anna Karenina I found a strong woman living a difficult life.

Great Expectations (Wordsworth Classics)

Charles Dickens created some very memorable characters and Miss Havisham, sitting in her faded wedding dress, still lives with me.

The Clayhanger Trilogy

The Clayhanger trilogy (actually 4 books, Clayhanger, Hilda Lessways, These Twain and The Roll-Call) - Arnold Bennett

I discovered these books through the BBC TV adaptations but grew to love the Arnold Bennett stories of growing up in a Midlands industrial town (I was born in Birmingham and educated in Staffordshire),which no other author has seemed to tackle.

The Mill on the Floss (Wordsworth Classics)

As a teenager I was fascinated to discover that ‘George Eliot’ was actually a woman (Mary Ann Evans) but could not publish books in her name in Victorian Britain. However, the strong character of Maggie Tulliver could only have been created by a woman!

Brighton Rock

I first read this as an impressionable teenager but the grim character of Pinkie remains with me many years later.

Our Man in Havana

It was hard to choose another Graham Greene novel because there are so many in the running but I went with this one as I love the humour of the main character using his vacuum cleaner part diagrams as part of his spy report!