My favourite characters in Victorian literature | A Victober series

Hello, beautiful people!


Today, I’m here for my third post in my Victober series, which is a weekly feature during the month of October that’s all about sharing my love for Victorian literature.  I wasn’t quite sure about what I wanted to write about this week, until last night, when I finished my third read for Victober. I realized how often we discuss our favourite books, but discussing our favourite characters is equally as important and I really wanted to do so, especially to introduce you Victorian heroines that made a lasting impression on me, because they were so ahead of their times. There is only one male character that makes the list, actually, because most Victorian male characters are dreadful, but anyway. Without further ado, let’s discuss my favourite Victorian characters, and I hope that sharing my love for them will make you want to read the novels they’re in!


♡ Bathsheba Everdene, from Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd is one of my top 3 favourite novels ever, so of course I have to talk about it! Its main character, Bathsheba Everdene, is at the head of a farm, defying expectations from Victorian society, because she is a woman. I admire her, because she’s ambitious, independent, headstrong, determined, and free-spirited. She makes it clear, time and time again, that she doesn’t want to become a man’s property and that she will manage her farm by herself. How can you not love her, when it’s 1874 and Thomas Hardy makes her say things such as:

“Well what I mean is that I shouldn’t mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband. But since a woman can’t show off in that way by herself, I shan’t marry-at least yet.”


It’s true that she makes mistakes, and sometimes acts in a very stupid way. But she is a feminist heroine, even though she’s often forgotten. She knows she will have to work twice as hard as any man, to earn respect from her employees, and she does it. She is ahead of her time and isn’t scared to defy expectations, which she does amazingly. Many people are mad at her for some of her romantic entanglements, but she does her best in a society dominated by men and she stays true to herself. I adore her so much.

♡ Helen Graham, from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Anne Brontë is my favourite Brontë sister because of this novel and because of Helen, who is such a strong heroine. She is a fierce, loyal, caring and brave character, who puts her safety and her son’s first, even if it means being criticized by all. She aims to be financially independent and not to depend on men (in any case, she’ll fight it as hard as she can). Most of all and that’s a very famous scene in the book… she slams the door on her husband’s face, protecting herself and not giving in to his abusive behaviour. She argues with him, she resists him, even though this wasn’t discussed as a possibility at the time. I didn’t know what to expect when I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so reading about Helen couldn’t help but amaze me, for she’s one of the strongest 19th century heroines I’ve ever read about.

♡ Gabriel Oak, from Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Yes, I know, another character from Far from the Madding Crowd, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Gabriel Oak is the only male character in Victorian literature that ever makes it to my favourite characters post, because he’s such a kind, caring and selfless man and unlike every single Victorian male character, I don’t have anything to be mad at him about. I love Gabriel Oak, because he can take no for an answer, he isn’t frustrated that a woman is above him in a hierarchy, he will always try to help people, even if it hurts his feelings and he is nothing, but kindness. 

♡ Lady Audley, from Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

I read Lady Audley’s Secret during Victober last year and adored it, especially Lady Audley herself, who was one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever come across in literature. She is a brilliant and ambitious woman, who defied all social conventions, had questionable morals and the reader has doubts about her for the whole novel. I am completely in awe of her character, because while she doesn’t always make the right choices, she did everything to get what she wanted in life and I can’t entirely blame her for that. Besides, I love morally ambiguous characters and she’s a perfect anti-heroine!


♡ Maggie Tulliver, from The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Last but not least, Maggie Tulliver actually gave me the idea for today’s post and it’s also all thanks to this amazing article on Literary Hub, defending Maggie, as she’s often considered to be George Eliot’s most underrated heroine. Maggie makes so many mistakes in her life, that’s true, but many of them are due to the men around her, as well as society in general. She is the type of heroine who is too much for her time, she is considered too clever, too passionate, too impetuous and commits a grave crime in Victorian society : she occupies space that has been denied to her. I knew I’d get along splendidly with her from the moment she was reading books people would advise her not to read! I have issues with The Mill on the Floss, that’s true, but Maggie was such a great character.

That’s it for me today! I hope that you had a wonderful week and that everyone participating in Victober is having a great time. 

Thanks for reading,
Lots of love,
Lucie

My journey with Victorian literature | A Victober series



Hello beautiful people!


Today, I’m here for my second post of my Victober series, which is a weekly feature during the month of October that’s about sharing my love for Victorian literature. This week, I wanted to talk about my journey with Victorian literature, which is linked to my journey with classics in general. If you don’t know about Victober, it’s a month-long readathon I’m participating in and I talked about it more here.



Getting introduced to Victorian literature…


When I was younger, I used to devour classics, I always became curious when literature professors talked about them with us in class, which led me to discover so many books I wanted to read. I was discussing this my mom just this week: I had always been so excited to learn how to read, then to read all the books people older than me talked about. As I am French, I started my journey with classics with French literature, especially falling for 19th century literature… As I told you last year, my obsession with Les Misérables started at a young age, and then there was Emile Zola, whose works I adore so. As I loved 19th century French literature so much, reading Victorian literature was a logical path, in a way.

I only heard about English literature years after, and when I was a teenager (I was about fourteen or fifteen), there was a summer where I decided to read some of the Brontë sisters’ works, which were my first introduction to Victorian literature. I remember having a whole schedule to make sure I read a certain amount of pages each day, but I just ended up devouring Wuthering Heights very quickly, because I couldn’t get enough out of it. Right after that, I jumped right into Jane Eyre, which I also loved, even though not quite as much as Wuthering Heights. I was so obsessed and even got a box set with an adaptation of some British classics that Christmas, eagerly watching the 2009 ITV adaptation of Wuthering Heights. I didn’t read many Victorian novels in the following years, even though The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare made me want to read a lot of Victorian literature and I got introduced to Charles Dickens through Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, which are my favourite novels by him so far.


Falling in love with Victorian literature…

I’ve talked about it a lot since last year, but I’ve been trying to figure out what my reading tastes truly are for the past two years and trying to understand that… Led me to fall in love with Victorian literature. In September 2016, I was participating in an online book club and the theme of the month was “Victorian literature”; we had to vote for which novel we wanted to read, and… 

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy won. 

It wasn’t even my first pick*, but I read it out of curiosity. Needless to say, as it’s now one of my top 3 favourite books of all time, this book changed my life, I deeply fell in love with it (and Gabriel Oak), watched the movie adaptation right after and it was all I could talk about for months. I was listening to the soundtrack of the movie and was singing along Let No Man Steal Your Thyme all the time, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Finally, at long last, this book made me want to explore Victorian literature, because I didn’t know that many Victorian authors. At that time, I was also introduced to the Penguin English Library editions and that was the beginning of another obsession, as many Victorian novels are edited in those (two birds, one stone).

*North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell was, I read it two months after and adore i
t so much.

While Far from the Madding Crowd reignited the love I had started to feel for Victorian literature through the Brontës, falling in love with Victorian literature wasn’t quite over, I was still a baby in that matter. Many things changed in my life in 2017, one of those being that I started buddy-reading way more. My friend Clara and I started buddy reading Thomas Hardy’s and Charles Dickens’ works together, which was so motivating, and the more time passed, the more I was reading Victorian literature on my own. I focused so much on Victorian literature last year and the 2017 edition of Victober really helped me as well. I kept discovering authors whose writing style I adored, which led me to read and want to read more and more books. All bookworms know that it’s quite an endless circle, which is quite exciting!  

And now what?

That’s pretty much the story of how I came to read as much Victorian literature as I do today, it really changed my life. Discovering that part of literature also introduced me to a part of the bookish community I didn’t know too well and I adore talking with people who love classics in general as much as I do. Reading Victorian literature makes me really happy, I’m quite proud of my journey and on my little scale, I get  asked for recommendations often, and I’ve been called the PEL Queen as a joke (I totally claim that title, though). 

I still consider that I’ve barely scratched the surface, because while I know most of the famous authors for sure, there are still so many I want/have to discover and I know so little… But I do try to document myself as much as possible on topics that interest me (that’s the Ravenclaw in me)! So far, I’ve mainly read Victorian novels and some short stories, but thanks to this edition of Victober, I have finally dived into plays and I’m hoping to read poetry in the future as well, I’m probably missing out a lot on that topic! 

In any case, I’m really just getting started and I’m glad I have time to explore that part of literature.

Thanks for reading,
Lots of love,
Lucie

Recommending my favourite Victorian novels | A Victober Series

Hello beautiful people!

As you might have seen in some of my previous posts, I am once again participating in Victober this month and I couldn’t be more excited to dedicate a lot of my time to Victorian literature again. I also wanted to focus a bit more on Victorian literature on the blog as well, so I thought I would try* to post once a week about it in October… So it’s the beginning of a month-long Victober series! For this first week, I wanted to talk about my favourite Victorian novels, so without further ado, let’s do this!


*we’ll see how this goes, as I’m quite busy with uni, reading and everything else, haha.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1874)

Far from the Madding Crowd is the novel that started it all, reignited my love for classics and made me fall in love with Hardy’s writing, it also is one of my top 3 favourite novels. It follows Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and proud working woman whose life is complicated by three different men, making her the object of scandal and betrayal. I adore how it discusses the place of women in a world dominated by men and how strong Bathsheba is (even though she can be quite annoying at times), the way Hardy describes rural communities and most of all, I adore Gabriel Oak so much. I’d also totally recommend the 2015 movie adaptation with Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts, it’s one of my favourite movies and I listen to the soundtrack all the time.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (1848)

If you don’t know Anne Brontë is my favourite Brontë sister, even though I love them all. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall impressed me so much, it was so ahead of its time and Victorian society wasn’t really ready for it, which only makes me love it more. This novel is about a mysterious woman who lives at Wildfell Hall, running away from her past (I don’t want to say too much, so I shall stay quite mysterious in my summary)… It deals with so many important themes, such as gender roles, abuse and alcoholism, and is considered a feminist novel. Helen is one of the strongest female heroines I have come across in the 19th century and I can’t help but to adore her. If you still haven’t read Anne’s works, please give her a chance, she deserves it so much.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)

Wuthering Heights is the first Victorian novel I read as a teenager, because I was curious about English literature and it sure didn’t disappoint. This novel starts when Lockwood has to seek shelter at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the tempestuous story of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how it influenced the lives of their descendants. I adored Emily’s dark and twisted characters, the story and her writing style as well as the chilling atmosphere on the moors. It’s been so long since I first read this one, so I’m hoping to reread it before the end of the year or at the beginning of the next one, we’ll see.


Tess of the d’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891)

I know it’s not very original to mention one of Hardy’s novels for the second time in this post, but he’s one of my favourite writers and I rated so many of his novels 5/5 stars. This one is about Tess Durbeyfield who has to claim kinship with the wealthy d’Ubervilles family, but meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. Later on, Tess meets Angel Clare, who seems to offer her love and salvation, but she has to decide whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. Once again, I adored the themes Hardy addressed in this one, with the theme of the ‘fallen woman’ in a very patriarchal society, as well as the criticism of social conventions and the thin line that exist between what society considers right or wrong. It’s a very heartbreaking read, but a stellar novel. I also adored the 2007 BBC adaptation, which starred Gemma Arterton as Tess and Eddie Redmayne as Angel (okay, I first wanted to read this novel because of Eddie, I’ll confess it).

Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)

Another Victorian author I adore is Elizabeth Gaskell and my favourite of her works is Ruth, which isn’t very well-known. This novel is about Ruth, who works in a sweatshop and is selected to attend a ball to repair torn dresses, which leads her to meet aristocrat Henry Bellingham. They form a secret friendship which goes horribly wrong for Ruth when she discovers she is pregnant. It centers around the ‘fallen woman’ theme again, which might seem a bit weird, but a lot of my favourite classic novels deals with that topic. I find it really interesting when authors take a stand and criticize how women who had children out of wedlock were judged and treated by society, even though it’s quite revolting and heartbreaking. I love how compassionate Gaskell’s take was, especially considering it was the first half of the 19th century. I also adore North and South, her most famous novel, but this one definitely took me by surprise!

So there you have it, here are my favourite Victorian novels! You can quite tell who my favourite Victorian authors are thanks to this post for sure. I have so many Victorian novels I am eager to read, though, so I hope this list will grow bigger and bigger as time goes on.


Lots of love,
Lucie

#Victober 2018 TBR

Hello, beautiful people!


October is almost there, and with that, Victober is well on its way. I first participated in this amazing event last year and I was so excited for it, I’ve been making lists of books I really wanted to get to for months. If you don’t know what Victober is, it’s a month-long readathon hosted by Katie (Books and Things), Ange (Beyond the Pages), Kate (Kate Howe) and Lucy (Lucythereader), where the goal is to read Victorian literature. While you don’t have to read a certain number of books for this readathon (read one book? You did it!), there are challenges for those interested and that’s what I based my TBR off. Still, the whole point is to have fun and to share our love for literature of the period. 

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.


2. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (1853) 

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!

4. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1860) 

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 FlossI 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)

Vanity Fair is quite an intimidating novel because of its length and how famous it is, but I’ve been meaning to get to it for so long. There is an adaptation of it currently airing in the UK, and as the last challenge is to read a Victorian novel and watch its adaptation, I thought it would be the perfect time to motivate myself to read it. I’ll be buddy reading this one with my friend Anna, I’m sure we can do this! Vanity Fair follows the lives of two women: Becky Sharp, an alluring and ruthless woman from an impoverished background, who wants to clamber up the class ladder, and Amelia Sedley, who comes from a wealthy family and longs for a soldier. We’ll see how it goes!



Are you participating in Victober?


Lots of love,
Lucie

Victober 2017 TBR

Hello, beautiful people!

This year, I’ve decided to join #Victober, a read-a-thon focused on reading Victorian literature during the month of October and hosted by Katie (Books and Things), Ange (Beyond the Pages), Kate (Kate Howe) and Lucy (Lucythereader). While you don’t have to read a certain number of books for this readathon (read one book? You did it!), there are challenges for those interested and that’s what I based my TBR off (I’m very competitive with myself when it comes to readathons). Oh, and as October means Halloween, my TBR also is inspired by that because I want to get in the mood.

The challenges are:

  • Read a Victorian book by a Scottish, Irish or Welsh author
  • Read a lesser-known Victorian book (less than 12.000 ratings on Goodreads)
  • Read a supernatural Victorian book
  • Read a Victorian book that someone recommended to you
  • Read a Victorian book by a female author


1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde // Read a Victorian book by a Scottish, Irish or Welsh author

If you didn’t know, Oscar Wilde is an Irish writer and while I have yet to read what he wrote, I’ve been admiring him for such a long time and went to an exhibition about him in Paris last year. October is the month I will finally read The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I couldn’t be more excited, because I know I’m going to love it and it’s a short read, which is perfect for a readathon!

2. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell // Read a lesser-known Victorian book

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Gothic Tales is, without a doubt, the book I’m most excited to read for Victober. I discovered Elizabeth Gaskell last year with North and South, which I absolutely loved, and read Wives and Daughters this September. When I discovered she had written gothic short stories (and that they aren’t that known), I was over the moon. When I read the description of the contents of this edition, it made me so curious, take for example: The Poor Clare, which is about “an evil doppelganger is formed by a woman’s bitter curse”, or Lois the Witch is “a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria”. It seems like a perfect read for Halloween time and I can read one of the novella whenever I want, which is also perfect for readathons.

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker // Read a supernatural Victorian book

I’ve been saving up Dracula for October, because I think it’ll be the best month to finally read it. I’ve been meaning to get to it for such a long time and I hope I won’t be too terrified (we never know with me). I’m very curious to finally read it, as I’ve only read about vampires in young adult novels (*cough* Twilight *cough*), but I want to know the real deal with vampires. My friend Clara loves this book and said it changed her opinions on vampires, so I trust her.

4. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins// Read a book that someone recommended to you

I first heard about The Woman in White on my favourite blog (which is in French, sorry), and it intrigued me so much. Victoria (mangoandsalt) absolutely loved it and I’ve wanted to read it ever since. Andreea (Infinite Text) also said we could count this one as her recommendation, so it definitely fits in this category. Anyhow, once again, I thought it was a perfect read for October, as it’s a mystery novel and it is said to be “the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism”. Moreover, if you want to read The Woman in White for Victober, there is a Goodreads group, because it’s a popular choice for this year’s Victober and it’s way less intimidating to read a big book (around 700 pages) with other people.

5. Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon // Read a book by a female author

Lady Audley’s Secret is a very famous Scandal novel and I have to say that the title intrigues me. From what I gathered, it’s about an anti-heroine, morality and madness in the Victorian age. Besides, this novel apparently established Mary Elizabeth Braddon established her as the main rival of the master of the sensational novel, Wilkie Collins. I’ll be reading Wilkie Collins for the first time in October, so I thought it would be interesting to be able to compare the two.

Are you taking part in Victober? What are your favourite Victorian novels?

Lots of love,
Lucie