As I mentioned at the start of the year, I’m still working my way through a list of classics (mostly on audiobook) and slowly ticking them off my list.
I don’t feel like I have a huge amount to say about most of them, which is why they aren’t getting their own reviews, but I may as well collect a few of them here:
Around the World in Eighty Days:
This was the first time I’ve ever given up on an audiobook. I actually went back to Librivox and downloaded an alternate edition because the narrator was so horrendously irritating. Once I got past that issue, the book itself was quite enjoyable, with an interesting circumnavigation story, and high-stakes racing through the last few days. I was really surprised, however, that none of the journey was done by hot air balloon. Isn’t that the image which has permeated the collective consciousness? Phileas Fogg in a hot air balloon? Somewhat disappointing that it never actually happened!
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:
I feel like the impact of this story was somewhat lost on me, since I already knew that they were the same person, but at the time this story of the horror of human nature must have been quite something. It didn’t hold up massively well because of how often it’s been reworked. Much like I found with Dracula, because there have been so many reimaginings of it, the original lacks something.
Crusoe is incredibly unlucky, and should have stopped getting on ships. I quite enjoyed this story of human survival in the most desolate of conditions, but the racism throughout is hard to stomach at times.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:
I was hoping to enjoy this as much as I had enjoyed Around the World in 80 days, but was disappointed. Large chunks of this book were just lists of fish. Who wants to read lists of fish? If I wanted to do that, I could just pick up a book about fish. When not reeling off lists of classifications of fish, there was some great story in here, and a real adventure to it, but it was really bogged down in pointless detail.
The Call of the Wild:
Not for me, this book. I think I might have loved it when I was a child, but reading it as an adult it lacked anything to actually draw me in. Disappointing.
The Secret Garden:
I read this so many times as a child, and loved it. Now, as an adult, I still love it. This story of sour, lonely little Mary growing up and becoming a friendly, loving child, finding her place in the world, and reviving her cousin and uncle is really timeless, and hugely enjoyable.
Everyone in this book was a terrible person. All of them. Not a single exception. As well as that, the framing device was strangely interwoven into the story, so that we read a story within a story within a story. I can’t see how or why Catherine and Heathcliff loved each other, and see nothing admirable in their horrendous treatment of each other and everyone around them. Cathy, too, is despicable. They’re all horrible, and I’m glad they all died.
A Tale of Two Cities:
Man, you can tell that Dickens was paid by the word. This book meanders. But, strangely, despite its overlong form, I really did enjoy this one. I was eager to sit into the car and hear where things were going next for the imprisoned Frenchman, the dour lawyer, and the beautiful young woman and her child. I have three other Dickens books on my list, and I’m not dreading them the way I’m kind of dreading the other Jules Verne.
Next up on my list are Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist, then I’m going to have to download some more audiobooks. But we’ll see how I get on with those first!
What classics do you want to read, or which do you wish you never had? Maybe I should just buy the book Abridged Classics, and save myself the time!