I have lost count of the times I have read Jane Austen back to back. My personal favourite is Emma although P&P I think is more rounded. But, I studied “Emma” for A level so I am afraid that I am biased. I am a classics girl at heart. For me modern literature does not come close. Each to their own but for me the classics win hands down. Plus, the fact you can usually download them for free! From time to time I do deviate but I always come back to the old favourites. Top of my leader board is obviously Jane Austen (no contest) closely followed by Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, the occasional Dickens and Bram Stoker with his classic gothic horror. I also enjoy the Bronte’s, particularly Anne Bronte and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”.
Last summer I re-read “Wuthering Heights”, a book I had not touched since a teenager. Then I found the Yorkshire dialect quite difficult to understand and “hear in my head” as I was reading. I enjoyed it more the second-time round. The ending was a little odd and I can’t quite understand why Heathcliff is seen as such a romantic hero. Not my cup of tea in the “romantic department”. I would go for either Gabriel Oak – steadfast, but not a walkover or Mr Knightly in “Emma “– he gets my vote every time even over Mr. Darcy.
Modern classics for me include Elizabeth Jane Howard particularly the series following the Cazalet family. I also like George Orwell’s “1984” and “A Clergyman’s Daughter”.
From time to time I dabble with Terry Pratchett especially the ones with the witches. My personal favourite is “Wyrd Sisters” because of its references to Macbeth. Hilarious!
I remember being totally bewitched by Philip Pullman’s trilogy. I read it before e-books had taken off. One Thursday night I finished reading the first book and then went rushing into town to buy the second as it was late night shopping. I was too late and returned home rather frustrated.
My other major favourites are the Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser. I love them. Flashman is such a “cad, a bounder, a womanizer and a coward”. They make a terrific read especially if you like a bit of skulduggery with your history!
I also regularly read children’s books. I love Noel Streatfield’s “A Vicarage Family”. I remember reading this at school and then asking for it for Christmas. I am really delighted that I can now get it on my Kindle. Another book that I will read again is Moonfleet – I discovered this 3 years ago and was totally gripped. It is a fine, traditional rip-roaring adventure. The character who captivated me the most was Elzevir Block, the damaged inn-keeper, grieving for his lost son, whose own life has lost its value and who sacrifices himself for the love of his young friend. I cried. Does anyone remember the “Five Find Outer’s and Dog” by Enid Blyton? I used to love those books. I preferred them to “The Famous Five” and “The Secret Seven”. And who can forget the “Naughtiest Girl” in the school – all those liberty bodices and vests! I found the complete collection in a local bookshop and snapped them up for my daughter. I’m planning to read them later….after lights out….. with a torch…..and a snack…………