|Meme created by Hyperbole and a Half|
1. Anything by Elizabeth Gaskell
If Dickens and Austen’s books had a baby, this would be it. Meshing romance and strong female characters with social commentary and serious issues (even death!), Gaskell’s stories are often heart-wrenching, frequently hilarious and always awesome. Definitely worth a read – and a viewing, if you haven’t already seen the amazing BBC adaptations of North and South, Wives and Daughters and Cranford.
2. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
OK, I know The Moonstone is his most beloved work, and here I am writing a list of underrated classics without having read that one. Awkward. But I HAVE read The Woman in White, so I’m going to rave about that instead. I originally picked it up after reading the blurb on the back about Dickens mentoring Collins – and I was completely blown away by the contents. It’s a beautifully constructed mystery that was hard to put down (not always the case with the classics!).
3. Evelina by Frances Burney
Written and published at a time when it was unthinkable for a young woman to read much, let alone write, Burney’s epistolary novel is a charming, funny and touching account of life in 18th century aristocracy. Evelina gets herself into so many awkward situations, she's easy to relate to - even 200+ years on! Plus, her love interest, Lord Orville, is totes book boyfriend material.
4. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
There's been a bunch of adaptations of The Forsyte Saga, so I'm always surprised at the number of people I speak to who haven't read it or even heard of it. Spanning three novels, and multiple decades and generations, Galsworthy's masterpiece both satirises and humanises the British middle-class with the money-obsessed, eccentric Forsytes. There are so many amazing characters to love - and love-to-hate.
5. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Thanks to the musical, everybody has heard of The Phantom of the Opera. Plenty have seen it. But not too many seem to have read it. Which is a shame, coz it's an awesome book! And way creepier and more heartbreaking than anything the musical has to offer (and I LOVE the musical).
Which classics do you think get neglected?