Here are the challenges for this year:
- Read a book by one of the hosts’ favourite Victorian authors (Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell or Thomas Hardy).
- Read a Victorian book with a proper noun (i.e. a place name or person’s name) in the title.
- Read a book from the first ten years of the Victorian period and/or a book from the last ten years of the Victorian period ‘i.e. 19837-1847 or 1891-1901).
- Read a Victorian book written by a woman anonymously or under a pseudonym.
- Read a Victorian book and watch a screen adaptation of it.
1. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy (1887)
It won’t come as a surprise to you that Thomas Hardy is my favourite Victorian author, I’ve said it enough, so I’m beyond happy I had an excuse to pick up some more of his works. This time, I really wanted to read The Woodlanders and will do so with my friend Clara @ The Bookworm of Notre-Dame. This novel narrates the rivalry for the hand of Grace Melbury between a loyal woodlander and a sophisticated outsider. According to the Penguin Classics edition, The Woodlanders, with its thematic portrayal of the role of social class, gender, and evolutionary survival, as well as its insights into the capacities and limitations of language, exhibits Hardy’s acute awareness of his era’s most troubling dilemmas. It sounds amazing, as all of the works of Thomas Hardy that I’ve read so far, I cannot wait to read it.
I am so happy I still have some of Gaskell’s works to read, because the last two novels I have left both have a proper noun in the title; I picked up Cranford, which title’s comes from the name of the town the story is set in. It was first published in several instalments in the Household Words magazine (edited by Charles Dickens!), before being published in book form two years later. Cranford is considered to be an affectionate and moving portrait of genteel poverty, as well intertwined lives in a nineteenth-century village. It also is a very short book, so I’ll be able to read it very quickly and I’m so curious as it’s one of Gaskell’s best-known works.
3. The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays by Oscar Wilde (1891-1895)
I am beyond excited to finally get to Oscar Wilde’s plays, this edition featuring The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, Salome, An Ideal Husband, which have all been published between 1891 and 1895 (during the end of the Victorian period!). I’ve been meaning to read more plays for a while and as I adore Oscar Wilde (I still haven’t recovered from the exhibition about him in Paris two years ago), I thought it would be a great place to continue with his works. I’m particularly excit
ed about The Importance of Being Earnest, as it’s so famous, but also about Salomé, as it was written in French (and I’ll read it in my language, of course <3). I'm really curious about other readers' picks for this challenge, and if I still have enough time to read more books, I'll try to pick up a book from the early Victorian period!
I’ve been meaning to try to read George Eliot’s works for ages and this year… I finally read Middlemarch and adored it! George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, so the fourth challenge is giving me an excuse to continue reading more of Eliot’s works, starting with The Mill on the Floss. I have heard from several readers that The Mill on the Floss was more approachable than Middlemarch, but I got through that one, so I’m confident I’ll enjoy it as well. This one follows Maggie Tulliver, who is always trying to win the approval of her parents, but her personality often brings her into conflict with her family. It is said to have an interesting portrayal of sibling relationships, which is something I adore in literature and that it’s considered George Eliot’s most autobiographical novel. Moreover, I’ve heard such amazing things about the heroine of this novel and I cannot wait to meet her.
5. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1848)