I have always read a mix of information books, science, history and scripture and have also read novels for pleasure. I have decided to make my favourite novels the subject of this post rather than my favourite books on physics!
I like the classics. I don’t read a lot of modern novels at all. I have read many of the classics several times, and enjoy going back to them and discovering something I had not noticed before.
I have a few favourites, but whether I will start reading them depends on my mood very much. If I have a lot on my mind and need something light-hearted and cheery, I would probably choose Jane Austen, because I know her stories will divert me and cheer me up.
I have read her six main novels several times and two of them I have read a lot. I have read “Pride and Prejudice” many times (I don’t know exactly how many times, but at least ten times).
But even more often, I have read my personal favourite Jane Austen novel “Persuasion”. I love it. I adore Anne Elliot! She stands out amidst so many pompous or frivolous characters. It must be so difficult to feel the man she loves views her with bitter resentment, and that he cannot forgive her for letting him down. From the very start I want her to have a happy ending. However, Jane Austen leaves me in agony right to the very end!
There are two dramatisations I have also watched repeatedly, one with Amanda Root playing Anne, and the other with Sally Hawkins. I absolutely love both of these actresses, and am so pleased they have played one of my favourite characters. This is a trailer from the more recent dramatisation with Sally Hawkins playing Anne Elliot.
Jane Austin is always my first choice for easy-going, light-hearted stories with happy endings.
However, there are times, when I am hungry for a book that is more epic, more of a feast. I indulge in page after page of vivid description and detailed scene setting! I save these for times when I have a lot less on my mind, because when I read one of these books I have to immerse myself into them for the longer period of time it takes to read them.
These are a few favourites which I have read several times and I love the action and drama and deep emotions the characters experience. For some reason my favourites are novels written against the backdrop of French history. Here are my favourite novels for when I can face immersing myself in dramatic tales.
“Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo. I had started this novel for the first time believing it to be a romance. I was so wrong! It is hard for me to convey how much the book contains, because I feel I cannot do it justice. It is an incredibly epic story of the lives of people effected by injustice and suffering, touched by acts of unselfish kindness and benevolence, the battle between bitterness and hope, despair and faith, and the yearning for true peace of mind and security.
I love the rich descriptions of life and people. The great debates within the souls of the main characters Jean Val-Jean and of course the turmoil Inspector Javert faces on contemplating how his blinkered rigid views have in fact blinded him and misled him. His realization makes him despairing. The stories of the familiar characters Fantine, Pont-Mercy, Jean Val-Jean, the Thenadier family, Cosette, Marius are so moving and fascinating.
It is one of my favourite books because I find myself diving into a world of people, and although they are fictional characters, they are believable, because we know how much injustice and suffering there has been for centuries. Stories of individuals facing the frustrations of injustices, whose paths all cross during the scenes that develop around the barricade. The setting for this book being the very real upheaval in French history, the injustices and hardship experienced by the poorest. It is all so provoking and makes you feel so much for these fictional characters who were facing unfairness and frustrations which have been very real for millions if not billions of humans.
Very recently the BBC showed a six part dramatisation starring Dominic West as Jean Val-Jean. I thought they did a great job – I have not seen all of the episodes but the first two I saw were excellent.
“The Three Muskateers” by Alexandre Dumas – I enjoyed the whole series culminating in “The Man In The Iron Mask”. The reason I loved these books is the jam-packed action. So very different from Jane Austen! I was reading these books and found myself literally “on the edge of my seat” with the excitement of what was going to happen next.
There is one chapter in “The Man In The Iron Mask” that sums up the drama and action so well. The chapter is called “The White Horse and The Black”. D’Artagnan is chasing Fouquet. I was in agony reading this horse chase.
It’s not just the action involved. It’s the motivation behind the actions of each of the musketeers. D’Artagnan is so loyal to the king. Aramis is so moved by what he sees as a great injustice. The way the book plays out with these four musketeers showing their characters and qualities right to the end is an amazing read. I have seen countless film versions featuring the musketeers. Even when they vary greatly from the book, I think they do a great job at conveying the action and excitement of the stories. But I do like to have the original Alexandre Dumas stories to compare them to.
Which brings me to another favourite also written by Alexandre Dumas. I loved the book “The Count Of Monte Cristo”. What a story!
At the start of the book, it seems that the main character, Edmond Dantès, has a lot to look forward to. But he suffers a terrible injustice when he is accused of treason and then sent to prison without a trial.
I think in the book Chapter 89 was the point when my heart broke the most. Don’t go and read it without reading the rest of the book first – it won’t mean as much to you at all!
The book has so much that most dramatisations cannot possibly pack into their versions. I think I saw one version with Gérard Depardieu which had a lot more of the book than any other effort I have seen. However, I will say this, I like that some versions have captured the spirit of the book, even if they do completely change the ending! Some years ago Jim Caviezel played the role of Edmond Dantès in a movie version which I did enjoy. Different ending and they did not have a large enough canvas to include so many characters from the book. But still very exciting!
Two trailers for dramatisations of “The Count Of Monte Cristo”, both of which have taken liberties with the book, however, the version with Gérard Depardieu has a lot more of the book in it which is perhaps due to it being a much longer version:
So…that was a list of some of my favourite novels:
Jane Austen: “Persuasion” and “Pride And Prejudice”
Victor Hugo: “Les Mierables
Alexandre Dumas: “The Three Musketeers” series and “The Count Of Monte Cristo”
How about you…what are your favourite books? It would be great to see a post from you. Please ping back to the original prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore below: