My favourite classics, in no particular order, are:
1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1877
This was the first adult novel I ever read. I can’t even remember how old I was, but it seemed like an enormous book to me. I was perhaps six or seven. It was given to me by some relative because I had a major thing for horses when I was a child, to the point that I eventually made my mother promise me that if we even moved to the country and had the room, she’d buy me a horse. This promise didn’t happen until I was a teenager, though, and all through my childhood I was a bit surly when it came to what I wanted. Every chance of a wish (birthday, first star of the night) I wished I had my own horse. Of course, when my mother finally did make the promise, it cheered me up on end and put me in a better state of mind. It didn’t matter that we would never move to the country: I needed the option open anyway. This book taught me about cruelty to animals, and I always make sure it is with me on airplanes.
2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, 1847
I love this classic with a passion. I love the turbulence of the lovers and the choices that Cathy made. I love the story of Cathy and Heathcliff so much more than any boring Mr Darcy or any of his boorish incarnations (aka Edward Cullen). I love how it is told from numerous perspectives out of chronological order. It doesn’t hurt that Heathcliff is brought home from Mr Earnshaw’s trip to Liverpool, which is where I now live. I love the relationships between each of the characters, and how each of them carries their own flaws, and I love the idea of the society out there on the moors. It took me a while to track a decent copy down, but when I did, I found it irresistibly hard to put down. This is one book I try to reread every year. Incidentally, I also thoroughly enjoyed the BBC Yorkshire telemovie adaptation released in 2009. I felt this was a very accurate representation of the book and the casting was top notch. It really boiled down the plot to the bare essentials and would be a good point of reference for those who are unable to read the book, for whatever reason.
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, 1847
I love this plucky little heroine, and I love the fact that she’s not the most beautiful girl on the planet and I love the fact that she falls in love with Edward Rochester who is not the most handsome of men. That’s real love for you. I love how Jane overcomes all her trials to become a stronger woman. I really enjoyed reading about her childhood as well as her adult life. I also love that she experiences both poverty and personal wealth, and how her and Mr Rochester end up swapping positions and she takes him in after he loses everything. Their marriage is one of perfect equality and seems like a good example for many to follow. I read this for a university course, and my lecturer advised us to read one chapter at a time. It was hard to only read one chapter and then put the book down, though, because it totally engrossed me. Reading it that way, though, helped me to digest it properly and appreciate it more than Wuthering Heights, which I powered through.