Happy Monday! The last day of the sunshine I believe, so I intend to make the most of it.
I am managing to read quite a lot despite having a new baby - who is 4 months old today - those who said babies grow up fast weren't kidding! I often think about the fact that perhaps I should be reading the classics and not just the contemporary fiction/crime/thrillers and chicklit I prefer to read. But, five years of doing a degree in Literature and being forced to read certain texts had put me off reading high brow books for such a long time.
I have some classics in my home library - Dickens, Jane Austen, mainly, only one I've read is Pride & Prejudice. You see, I did French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese literature, so apart from the Shakespeare I did at school and the poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley, I haven't read that many British classics. I loathed Silas Marner by George Eliot and absolutely loved T S White's The Sword in the Stone, about the legend of King Arthur. I remember being in 2nd or 3rd year at high school and realising I had read past the section of The Sword in the Stone I was meant to read aloud in class, but no-one had stopped me, as they were all transfixed, as I kept doing the voices for each character!
So, I thought I would share with you today, some of those novels I studied at university, which you may have heard of and which I actually liked! Believe me, there were far more which were seriously hard work and I hated!
You've probably all heard of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert - a tad raunchy, Mme Bovary is very bored and how she resolves her boredom is kind of the crux of the novel - worth a read.
Stendhal's The Red and the Black, which was televised round about the time I was at university and which many of my classmates made the mistake of watching instead of reading the book...the differences were unbelievable and they all failed their essays! It's an historical, psychological novel, about a young man who wants to rise above his current station and what he does to get there - so valid in today's world too.
Now to Italy
Boccaccio's Decameron - oh, how I laughed. It's so bawdy and I tittered at the lewd tales, all set centuries ago. 100 tales told by 10 young Florentines, over a period of ten days. Guaranteed to make you giggle, but each with a lesson. Inspired Chaucer.
The Prince by Niccolo Macchiavelli - well, you know the word Macchiavellian? It didn't spring from nowhere! How to be a successful statesman and the treachery involved - again, another tale relevant today - perhaps moreso!
And now to Spain!
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - everyone raves about A Hundred Years of Solitude, which is much better known in the UK and which I read the week I left university, after first reading 5 Agatha Christie novels back to back, but Chronicle was much more to my taste - Santiago is murdered in a small town by 2 brothers - everyone knew it was going to happen, even the victim. Years later someone will try to discover why.
There were so many other great books, I really did read a lot, under duress sometimes! Here are a few other favourites -
Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis - Brazil - a story of love, betrayal and suspicion
Tiempo de Cerezas by Montserrat Roig - Barcelona (Time of the Cherries) - if you like your contemporary feminist fiction in Spain!
Moliere - The Miser - a comedy - in the traditional sense - fun play!
Victor Hugo's Notre Dame De Paris - probably needs no explanation
Now to the three classics I want to make sure I read soon
Tess of The D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy - this is cheating slightly, as I downloaded this when I first got my Kindle 3 years ago, but only read about 30% - I enjoyed it too. It was actually very funny and not at all what I expected.
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - well, I saw the movie and have been told the book's only 160 pages long, so why not - it was a great movie!
Hmm. can't quite decide on the third. I think it has to either be a Dickens (David Copperfield, The Old Curiosity Shop or Great Expectations) or one of the Jane Austen's I've had for years - I have the complete works. I'll let you know how it works out!
Would love to hear your favourite classics or those you feel guilty about not having read. Or even better, which classic has touched you the most?
Have a great week everyone