Books shelved under “19Th Century”

34 reviews found

  1. Book cover for Middlemarch

    Middlemarch

    by George Eliot

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I first read and reviewed Middlemarch in 2009, so you can read my first review if you like. This review will reiterate some of the points of my earlier review, but enough time has passed and I have changed enough that I definitely took different things from this book this time. Nevertheless, still a classic and a masterpiece.

    Middlemarch is a sublime example of Victorian authors recognizing and attempting to chronicle a disappearing lifestyle. Eliot…

  2. Book cover for The Pickwick Papers

    The Pickwick Papers

    by Charles Dickens

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I probably made a mistake by trying to read this at the beginning of a week off. I’ve attempted The Pickwick Papers twice before in the past year. Each time, the book eluded me, my interest in it slipping away before I was more than 10 pages in. Charles Dickens is, as usual, an excellent writer but one whose style is heavily idiosyncratic in a way that does not lend itself to the preferred prose…

  3. Book cover for Wuthering Heights

    Wuthering Heights

    by Emily Brontë

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I previously read Wuthering Heights over 10 years ago, and I might not ever have revisited it until my pal Julie roped me into a re-read. You can read her review here. Our reactions are quite different, although I think we share many observations about the nature of the story and its legacy.

    First, as always, a quick plot summary: the year is 1801 and a dandy gentleman named Mr. Lockwood shows up…

  4. Book cover for A Laodicean

    A Laodicean

    by Thomas Hardy

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    There’s a particular pleasure that comes with having read so much of an author’s oeuvre that you find yourself reaching deep into the back catalogue for new experiences. I love reading the less-celebrated or more obscure works by a famous author. Sometimes they are less-celebrated and more obscure for good reason! Sometimes, though, as with A Laodicean, they turn out to be undiscovered treasures!

    I picked up this used copy at the same time…

  5. Book cover for Jude the Obscure

    Jude the Obscure

    by Thomas Hardy

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Nine years ago I listened to Jude the Obscure as a free LibriVox audiobook (I love LibriVox!), mostly while cycling to and from my summer job at an art gallery. This was not my first Hardy (I had read The Mayor of Casterbridge for my first year of university), but obviously as his last novel, Jude the Obscure has a special place in Hardy’s canon.

    I quite like my original review, if I do say…

  6. Book cover for The Count of Monte Cristo

    The Count of Monte Cristo

    by Alexandre Dumas

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Second review, addendum: September 5, 2017

    It has, coincidentally, been exactly 3 years since I first read The Count of Monte Cristo. I bought a house this summer; I have my very own deck now. I decided that on my week off I wanted to sit outside and work my way through this classic behemoth during what might be our last nice days before the autumn chill kicks in. I was, for the most…

  7. Book cover for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

    by Anne Brontë

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I went into The Tenant of Wildfell Hall conjecturing that Anne Brontë would prove to be the underrated sister, and my conjecture was right. Although I love and appreciate Jane Eyre, and I can see why others love and appreciate Wuthering Heights, where is the love for Anne? Charlotte and Emily get to become household names, more or less, their most famous works easily recognizable even by people who will never read them.…

  8. Book cover for The Return Of The Native

    The Return Of The Native

    by Thomas Hardy

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m not sure Thomas Hardy knows what love is. Or maybe I don’t know what love is. Does anyone know what love is? Haddaway has been zero help, by the way.

    If I was worried I’ve been ploughing through Hardy’s novels too fast, I shouldn’t be: my last review was over a year ago! Time to rectify that! It’s also a nice break from the YA/SF-heavy binge I’ve been on (and to which I…

  9. Book cover for Felix Holt

    Felix Holt: The Radical

    by George Eliot

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I make no secret of the fact that I think George Eliot is a literary badass, and Felix Holt: The Radical is just the latest example of these well-deserved credentials. This is essentially a political and legal thriller set in 1832 England on the cusp of the passage of the First Reform Act. (Among other things, the Reform Acts of the 1800s redefined the electoral districts for the English Parliament and expanded the franchise ever…

  10. Book cover for Far from the Madding Crowd

    Far from the Madding Crowd

    by Thomas Hardy

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I learned I’d prefer to save my Hardy reading for the summer. There is nothing better than being able to read Hardy outside in summer, when the warmth and greenery makes it easier to imagine the bucolic setting of the Wessex novels. Plus, having the day available for reading allows me to sink my teeth into novels like Far from the Madding Crowd, which are meant to be read in big gulps rather than…

  11. Book cover for Daniel Deronda

    Daniel Deronda

    by George Eliot

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Last year around this time, I read Adam Bede, George Eliot’s first novel. It’s fitting that when I was rummaging around my to-read box, I found Daniel Deronda, Eliot’s last novel. I wanted a meaty, socially-conscious novel with a diverse cast of well-realized characters. Eliot does not disappoint, and Daniel Deronda captivated me to the point that I began scribbling some notes in the margins of my lovely used copy.

    I love George…

  12. Book cover for The Three Musketeers

    The Three Musketeers

    by Alexandre Dumas

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Thrilled by the excellent recent adaptation by the BBC, I decided it was time to finally read The Three Musketeers. I have vague memories of borrowing a book with a yellow hardback cover from the library when I was much, much younger. But at that precocious age I found the nineteenth century language and over-the-top tropes of romance and revenge difficult to enjoy, and I don’t recall if I ever finished it. This time,…

  13. Book cover for Under the Greenwood Tree

    Under the Greenwood Tree: Or the Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School

    by Thomas Hardy

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Another somewhat well-preserved Penguin Classics paperback of Hardy, this time acquired not in a used bookstore abroad but taken abroad after receiving it as a gift from someone who went to a used bookstore. The very slimness that signals its brevity also makes it quite attractive as a travel book. Since it’s Hardy, I knew I would be in for a treat, for prose that is both readable and poetic, for characters who are truly…

  14. Book cover for Dracula

    Dracula

    by Bram Stoker

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I enjoyed NBC’s new Dracula series an inordinate amount. It was a fun, thrilling experience of storytelling and characterization. And it got me thinking that, despite happily watching various adaptations over the years, I’ve never actually read the original novel. What with it being public domain and all, I put the Project Gutenberg edition on my tablet and sat back to see how the original stacks up to its adaptations.

    (If you haven’t already, you…

  15. Book cover for Adam Bede

    Adam Bede

    by George Eliot

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    So far I’ve been reading George Eliot’s work in a reverse-chronological order. For my third experience I’ve chosen Adam Bede, her first novel. I didn’t realize this until I read the introduction after finishing the book. In hindsight, I can see how her style is less polished than her later works; however, at the time, I was captivated by all the hallmarks of Eliot’s writing that make her my favourite Victorian novelist.

    The plot…

  16. Book cover for The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror

    The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This one of those tales that have percolated down through culture but that most of us have never actually read. I assigned it as a short reading assignment for my sixth form English class, something we could cut our teeth on while we start looking at the possibilities for texts to study this year. They were all familiar with the general idea, though I was surprised to find out that one of them was surprised…

  17. Book cover for The Woodlanders

    The Woodlanders

    by Thomas Hardy

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    My mad love affair with the work of Thomas Hardy deepens and continues with The Woodlanders, the latest of his novels to grace my shelves. I found this well-preserved Penguin Classics paperback in a used book shop in Edinburgh for £2. I bought it (and a few other books) more so I could say I bought some books from a used bookstore in Scotland than for any other reason. But Hardy is one of…

  18. Book cover for A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carol

    by Charles Dickens

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Some stories are so popular they have permeated culture to the point where almost everyone knows them, even if they haven’t so much as glanced at the source material. Such is the case with A Christmas Carol, which has inspired numerous adaptations in every medium imaginable. As a result, Ebeneezer Scrooge is a household name, and the basic plot of A Christmas Carol is a familiar one. The source material, however, is well worth…

  19. Book cover for Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre

    by Charlotte Brontë

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m sharing an AS Level (sixth form) literature class this year, and the other teacher wanted to use Jane Eyre as the core prose text. (This whole teaching professionally thing is also why I haven’t reviewed much lately! Working on it!) So I’m re-reading this after several years—and it has been several years too many! My opinion of Jane Eyre has improved—and it was pretty high to begin with. While I’m not quite ready to…

  20. Book cover for Tess of the D'Urbervilles

    Tess of the D'Urbervilles

    by Thomas Hardy

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Thomas Hardy knows where it’s at. Tess of the d’Urbervilles is not only one of the best books I’ve read this year but one of the best books I’ve ever read. My previous outings with Hardy convinced me of his skill as a writer; this book cements him as truly deserving classic status. Hardy is one of those writers whose pointed social commentary dovetails precisely with his plot and characterization. He doesn’t have to sacrifice…

  21. Book cover for Bleak House

    Bleak House

    by Charles Dickens

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Second review: October 2019

    It has been many a year since I first read Bleak House! So much has happened. I moved, then came back, from the very country whence Dickens hails. I bought a house, which I still have. I did not get involved in protracted Chancery suits.

    For the past year I've had The Pickwick Papers on my shelf, and I keep picking it up and then putting it down after a…

  22. Book cover for The Mill on the Floss

    The Mill on the Floss

    by George Eliot

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    (Psst, hey, you. Yeah, you, reading this review. I re-read this in January 2018. The below review still stands, but you might want to check out my new thoughts too! OK, that’s it. Back to reading this review.)

    It has been over two years since I read Middlemarch, a novel that propelled George Eliot to near the top of my list of favourite authors. With a keen wit and a deft pen, Eliot…

  23. Book cover for The Prince and the Pauper

    The Prince and the Pauper: A Tale for Young People of All Ages

    by Mark Twain

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This is not my first time to the Mark Twain rodeo, but it has been a long time since I last visited. Twain is not high on my list of priorities, sorry to say. However, this lovely edition of The Prince and the Pauper found its way into my possession, so I decided to challenge those priorities. While I don’t think I will be rushing to devour the rest of Twain’s oeuvre just yet, this…

  24. Book cover for Persuasion

    Persuasion

    by Jane Austen

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This past Saturday I was Skyping with my friend Vivike, and I mentioned I had just finished Persuasion. Together, we pondered why Pride & Prejudice is the most popular of Jane Austen's work, despite the fact that some of her later efforts, such as Emma and, yes, Persuasion, are manifestly superior. We put on our literary snob hats and monocles and lamented the popular interpretation of Pride & Prejudice as a romance in…

  25. Book cover for Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon

    Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon

    by Jane Austen

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I've talked smack about Jane Austen before, not so much to discount her ability as a writer—if you question that, then oh, we will throw down—but to compare her unfavourably to George Eliot. What can I say? I was young and stupid two years ago!

    Today I would like to apologize to Miss Austen. Since Middlemarch I've come a long way and read a lot more of Austen's works, and while Eliot's novel remains uneclipsed…

  26. Book cover for Emma

    Emma

    by Jane Austen

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Move over, Pride and Prejudice. Emma is my new favourite Jane Austen novel, and while Austen may be better known for Pride and Prejudice, this book is what has earned her acclaim in my eyes. At times plodding and predictable, Emma nonetheless won me over with a complex cast of characters, whose changing relationships are the key to the entire story. Austen's ironic hand makes this book a light but real commentary on…

  27. Book cover for The Island of Dr. Moreau

    The Island of Dr. Moreau

    by H.G. Wells

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I am more and more impressed with H.G. Wells. This is the third book of his I've read, and it's by far the best. The first two were The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, arguably better known than The Island of Dr. Moreau but not, in my opinion, better works of fiction.

    As with those other two books, The Island of Dr. Moreau features a first-person erudite British male narrator. Much…

  28. Book cover for The Time Machine

    The Time Machine

    by H.G. Wells

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Maybe it's unfair to compare them, but having read this hot on the heels of The War of the Worlds, I liked The Time Machine better. On thematic grounds it's a close battle, but The Time Machine is a far superior story, hands down.

    I'm not even going to touch the whole "time travel" concept as Wells presents it in this book, both because it was written in 1895 and because science fiction has…

  29. Book cover for The War of the Worlds

    The War of the Worlds

    by H.G. Wells

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    It's easy to be a jaded reader of science fiction, especially if you grew up with the conveniences of Star Trek, Star Wars, and the reality of spaceflight. So it's important to remember that writers like H.G. Wells never got to see the famous Blue Marble photograph of Earth; they never got to see what our planet looks like from space—something most of us take for granted in this era. This awareness, our…

  30. Book cover for Sense and Sensibility

    Sense and Sensibility

    by Jane Austen

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Foremost in my mind while reading Sense and Sensibility was how much both society and the English language have changed in the nearly 200 years since this book's publication. Conduct that we would now find unremarkable, perhaps even laudable, earns Jane Austen's characters harsh opprobrium. All of the book's conflict stems from the tangled web of relationships influenced by the mores of early nineteenth century England. Readers who stubbornly persist in interpreting this book on…

  31. Book cover for Middlemarch

    Middlemarch

    by George Eliot

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This book blew me away. Forget Jane Austen or any of the Brontë sisters. I found Pride and Prejudice tolerable and liked Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, but they are nothing compared to the scope and genius of Middlemarch. George Eliot has given Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens a run for their money, and I think Middlemarch has won the title of My Favourite Victorian Novel. (Editor's note: Since writing this…

  32. Book cover for Wuthering Heights

    Wuthering Heights

    by Emily Brontë

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    It was difficult to get into this book for the first few chapters. The story properly begins in Chapter IV, where Mrs. Dean begins her tale of the doomed love between the inhabitants of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. Prior to that, Mr. Lockwood's introduction to Heathcliff and his associates seems like a prologue, and a poor one at that.

    I persevered, however, and my opinion of Wuthering Heights steadily increased from two stars to…

  33. Book cover for Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre

    by Charlotte Brontë

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    A thoroughly enjoyable book. It's easy to become disenchanted with Victorian literature, mostly because that culture is so far removed from our own. Jane Eyre is more refined than Pride and Prejudice (which I found only tolerable). Fortunately, Charlotte Brontë is a superior writer to Jane Austen, and Jane Eyre is a great novel in its own right.

    The eponymous heroine is likable. She tends toward the melodramatic when speaking of her struggles, and at…

  34. Book cover for Two on a Tower

    Two on a Tower

    by Thomas Hardy

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    As with most romances and much Victorian fiction, I felt a considerable burden lifted from me after I finished Two on a Tower. Yet I can't help but feel regret that it's over so quickly. Although not my favourite genre, Thomas Hardy is skilled enough to draw me into the lives of these two people and make me sympathize with their plight.

    Even as I struggled with my distaste for the idiosyncrasies of Victorian…