Let’s Talk Classics: A Round-up

I’ve made progress the past few months on my Classics Club list and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process. I have not been timely about posting on these novels, however, so it’s time to clear the decks with some (very) mini-reviews. Let’s start with the one I read first, way back in March!

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

First of all, kudos to me for finally reading the longest sitting book on my Goodreads TBR list. It had been there since 2008! I would recommend this only if you’re an Austen super fan. If you’re not, then DO read the wickedly funny Lady Susan, but you can feel free to skip the other two, which are unfinished novel fragments. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much about them! They were fine, they just didn’t sing like her novels do. I think the seeds of great books were there but maybe just didn’t have time to blossom into being. Lady Susan is worth the read because it’s really sharp and feels more daring than Austen’s later works. It’s about a 40-something widow and mother who is just awful (in a fun way,) constantly scheming to get her daughter married off and to get herself invited to people’s houses for extended periods, all the while making eyes (and worse) with other people’s husbands. The movie adaptation that came out a couple of years ago is pretty good too and faithful to the novella.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Yes, I did finish this one back in April but it felt and still feels nearly impossible to write about it. It was worth all the time I spent reading it. It really is a marvelous adventure, filled with unlikely but very entertaining twists, dastardly characters, and a very long game of revenge. It’s a commitment but I am so glad I read it and do recommend it.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (Classics Club Spin Book)

Initially I loved this 1944 novel because it was filled with beautiful, rich, early 20th-century English people saying witty things to one another (one of my favorite genres of entertainment.) The prose sparkled with Sebastian as one of the main characters, but when he dropped out of the story line, my attention wasn’t held as strongly. I don’t think Charles is a very lively character.  He’s kind of a jerk, especially later in the book when he’s married. The scenes on the cruise ship were my favorite parts, though. This was good; uneven, but interesting. I’d like to watch the Jeremy Irons adaptation sometime.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Yes, I said that I might like this one more than Rebecca! I can’t decide – it’s at least as good, okay? The atmosphere du Maurier creates is just as tense and suspenseful (not as Gothic, though.) Young Philip is determined to hate his Italian “cousin” (by marriage) Rachel, but when she arrives at the estate unexpectedly after her husband’s death, she confounds Philip’s preconceptions. She is a fascinating character – one minute I was intensely sympathizing with her and the next I was convinced she was shady as hell! And my feelings about Philip changed over the course of the novel too. Initially I was firmly in his camp and little by little I saw all of his flaws and stubborn blind spots. The writing is incredible and the story is perfection. Now I’m pretty sure I need to read everything else du Maurier wrote.

I’ve read 14/51 classics from my list, and I’ve got about 3.5 years to finish  I guess I need to pick up my pace a little bit and be more intentional about mixing in classics with my contemporary novels. It’s good to take stock of where I am.

What classic works have you picked up lately?


28 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Classics: A Round-up

  1. Hmm… I do need to give The Count of Monte Cristo a try. So many people say it’s a great adventure and I think I might like it too. My worry is always that I’ll be bored by classics. I’ve been trying to complete Dracula since last year and have yet to do so. The concept is interesting and the story in summary grabs my attention but the writing bores me to bits.

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    1. Confession: I’ve never tried to read Dracula! it just hasn’t grabbed my attention. I say let it go. Don’t torture yourself with it! I was surprised by how much I liked The Count of Monte Cristo. I think the writing is pretty modern feeling for a book written in the mid-1840’s.


  2. You’e doing well, especially since The Count of Monte Cristo must surely be the longest one on your list… I hope! Oh dear, I’ve just committed to reading and reviewing Sanditon – Oxford World Calssics are bringing out a new edition because there’s a TV adaptation in the pipeline apparently. I hadn’t realised it was as fragmentary as that… oh well!

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  3. The Jeremy Irons version of Brideshead is one of the classics of television drama and you really ought to find time to watch it. We have an Aloysius Bear who lives at our house and is very proud to be called after his Waugh ancestor.

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      1. A couple of others but these were the two standouts, I don’t remember as much about the others. Only that I liked Jamaica Inn and didn’t like Rule Britannia. I’ve heard her short stories are good too.

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  4. totally agree with you about Charles Ryder. He is such a cold fish isn’t he? I can only echo Cafe Society’s recommendation to watch the series which is superb. Don’t bother with the film version though – it’s beautifully filmed but doesn’t really get into the themes as well

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  5. I liked “Lady Susan”, but I cannot say I loved it. I probably liked the adaptation “Love & Friendship” more. I also completely agree with you on “My Cousin Rachel”. It is an amazing book!

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  6. These all sound like good classic choices. You’ve convinced me I need to read Lady Susan sometime. And I still have yet to read du Maurier! And after reading your mini-review, it feels just painful that I haven’t read her yet.
    I read Monte Cristo about 10 years ago and remember enjoying it, but also being impatient to move on to other books at the same time.
    I’ll be interested to see which ones you choose to read next!


  7. Classics are just a great big hole that I’ve completely avoided the past few years, but I’d LOVE to get back into reading them, it reminds me of being a university student! And ditto on Du Maurier, I can anticipate loving everything she’s ever written, and I’ve only read Rebecca so far!

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    1. It’s so easy to keep reading the new books that keep coming out – and you have books SENT to you for review too – I can see why it’s hard to get back to classics. I have to remind myself to work them in, but usually I really enjoy them!

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  8. I’m going to read Jamaica Inn soon, which was also made into a movie by Hitchcock. There is a new adaptation of My Cousin Rachel that has Finn from Hunger Games and Evie from The Mummy (I’m too lazy to look up the actors’ names, lol). I enjoyed it and felt they captured that sentiment you note — that you don’t know who to trust and my feelings flip flopped!

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      1. I think Weiss is so endeared to people thanks to The Mummy that she was a great choice for My Cousin Rachel. Everything in you wants to believe in Evie, and that’s part of the trickery in du Maurier’s novel.

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  9. Oh my God, you’re doing amazing!! I’m so impressed. I still haven’t read the entire Count of Monte Cristo, but I am looking forward to whenever I have time to read it. IT IS SO LONG yet so adventurey and great. One of these days I’m going to make it happen.

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  10. I love love what you’ve done here! These mini reviews are perfect. As I look at my drafts of reviews I need to finish I think this might be a better idea and help me catch up. I read Lady Susan last year but not the other 2. I also enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo and have an idea of how I’d like to review it.

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    1. Oh, thank you so much. I feel guilty sometimes about posting mini-reviews but honestly my appetite for writing reviews just isn’t there as much as when I began blogging. So thanks for saying that!

      I just couldn’t think of a way to review The Count… it’s so massive and detailed… but I’m so glad I read it. It’s a real accomplishment!

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  11. I know exactly how you felt when you came to sit and write about the Count. Several years back I read War and Peace and the same thing happened. It’s just that they are SO long! *chuckles* Still, you’re doing a great job working in some classics, and starting a new reading habit takes time, so maybe, even though you might be a teensey bit behind today, the overall trend is “more” and that will just naturally allow you to finish.

    The only classic I’ve read this year is On Tangled Paths by Theodor Fontane. I’d never read one of his novels, although I’d heard a lot about Effi Briest, and found it surprisingly modern in feel and tone. Which is often what I find myself saying about classics, but, then, I persist in reading even more modern stuff instead. *shrugs at self*

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    1. LOL… I completely empathize with that sentiment. Surprise at how “modern feeling” classics usually are. I’ve not head of On Tangled Paths or Fontaine, I’ll have to investigate. Thanks for saying what you did about my pace. You’re right, it’s definitely MORE than before I began the Classics Club challenge, so it’s already a WIN.

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