Friday 17 February 2012

Top Five: Underrated Classics

Everyone has heard of (and many have read) the likes of Dickens, Austen and the Brontes. But there are a lot more amazing classics out there that just don't get the same level of attention. So I've decided to give them a little more. Obviously, this list is limited to my personal reading experience, so if I've missed any (and I'm sure there are many), feel free to rant about it in the comments. 

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?


  1. I just bought The Woman in White recently - am so looking forward to it as I've heard so many amazing things about it.

  2. The Woman in White is such a fantastic read, isn't it? I remember getting through it in days. I hope to read The Moonstone soon.

  3. The loved one by Evelyn Waugh
    Just read it recently and loved it

  4. I've seen a stage version of The Woman in White and it put me off for life (it included holographs :-S).. but you're about the third person who has recommended the book to me :)

    Great post, Belle!
    Evelina sounds amazing :)

  5. Definitely #5! The play is famous, but the book is indeed underrated.

  6. oops - I haven't read a thing on this list! Except Hyperbole and a Half :) Does that count?? Have a great weekend!

  7. I think I would like reading Phantom.
    Great list :)

  8. I've honestly never heard of any of these titles! *hides face in shame* But I will now proceed to check them out :)

  9. I have only heard of Phantom Of the Opera. I liked that one. :) My friend is in LOVE with Phantom of the Opera everything, movie, book, stuff. LOL.

    I was tagged in a question event and in turn have decided to tag you too. If you don't participate or don't want to, no worries, I won't take it to heart. ;-) I know we are all busy with reading and blogging as it is. I just thought it was a fun different thing to do on my blog, so when I was tagged I decided...why not. LOL!

    "rules" are in my post:

  10. I've never read Phantom. I so need to do it. Yes, I am hanging my head in shame. *sniff*