My Reading List for The Classics Club

Some of you will be very familiar with The Classics Club, but if it’s new to you, there’s some more information about it here. It’s a way of uniting people who like to read and write about classic literature as part of the range of books they cover on their own blogs.

Classics Club members are invited to put together a list of at least 50 classics they intend to read and blog about at some point within the next five years. The structure allows for some flexibility – each member can set their own end date provided it’s within five years. Also, the definition of what constitutes a “classic” is fairly relaxed – as long as the member feels the book meets the guidelines for their list, he or she is free to include it. All books need to be old, i.e. first published at least twenty-years ago – apart from that, the definition is pretty flexible.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of fifty classics that I would like to read by December 2018. (I’ll be reading other books as well, so this list will run alongside my other reading choices.) Most of these books having been hanging around on my shelves for a few years, but I’ve also added a handful of new ones to freshen things up a little. There are twenty-five classics by women writers on my list, which gives me a 50:50 split between male and female authors. All the titles on my list are 20th-century classics as these are the books I tend to enjoy the most.

Here is my list (A-Z by author). I’ve tried to include a few translations alongside British and American Classics, plus some short story collections and classic noir for a bit of variety. None of these books are rereads.

  1. Pitch Dark by Renata Adler
  2. They Were Counted by Miklós Bánffy + an additional post on the politics and history
  3. A Legacy by Sybille Bedford
  4. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
  5. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
  6. The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
  7. My Ántonia by Willa Cather
  8. The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate
  9. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
  10. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
  11. An Evening with Claire by Gaito Gazdanov
  12. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  13. Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
  14. The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
  15. Vain Shadow by Jane Hervey
  16. Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
  17. In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes
  18. The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue
  19. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata
  20. Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
  21. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  22. The Adventures of Sindbad by Gyula Krudy
  23. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  24. Passing by Nella Larsen
  25. The Doves of Venus by Olivia Manning
  26. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  27. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
  28. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
  29. One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
  30. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
  31. Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys
  32. Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth
  33. A Certain Smile by Françoise Sagan
  34. Improper Stories by Saki
  35. The Widow by Georges Simenon
  36. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  37. The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark
  38. The Gate by Natsume Soseki
  39. Love in a Bottle by Antal Szerb
  40. A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor
  41. A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor
  42. Spring Night by Tarjei Vesaas
  43. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
  44. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
  45. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
  46. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  47. Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams
  48. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates
  49. The Burning of the World by Béla Zombory-Moldován
  50. Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig

Do you have any thoughts on my list? Have you read any of these books?

Update – March 2016: I keeping coming across more books that will fit my definition of a ‘modern classic’ so I’m going to add them to the list as I find/read them:

101 thoughts on “My Reading List for The Classics Club

    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thank you – ten is good! It took me ages to finalise the list as I kept fiddling about with it. I’m sure I’ll pick up loads of other recommendations for the TBR along the way :-)

      Reply
  1. lonesomereadereric

    What a great variety of titles and an exciting project! I think I’ve only read 4. Jean Rhys I love. A View of the Harbour is a subtle, moving novel. I’ve wanted to read more Taylor. Interesting you have two by her on the list. I remember loving those Yates stories. The Age of Innocence is stupendous!
    I’ve heard Mildred Pierce is excellent – I fear the experience of reading it would be spoiled for me now since I’ve seen both the Joan Crawford movie and the recent TV series of it.
    Many of these I’d like to read as well. Never read Barbara Pym or Shirley Jackson or Willa Cather. I’ll be so interested to read your opinions of them all. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Eric! I’m really excited about this project as I hope it will give me a little more direction in my reading over the next three years. Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont was one of my favorite reads of the year, so I’m very keen to read more of her work. That’s the reason for including two of her novels – I tried to avoid doubling up on authors but couldn’t resist adding another Taylor to the list! Yates, Wharton, and Rhys had to be there – I’m really looking forward to those three.

      Like you, I’ve seen both screen adaptations of Mildred Pierce (the Joan Crawford film and Todd Haynes’ mini-series). It’s been a while since I last watched them so I’m hoping the memories will fade (especially if I leave that book to year two or three). James M. Cain is another favourite author of mine – Double Indemnity and The Postman Only Rings Twice are top-notch noir.

      Reply
  2. roughghosts

    Oh I do like your idea of “classics”. I have a few of these languishing on my shelves and as for others I would at least like to read some of these authors though I may have different titles on hand. I have The Invention of Morel and hope to get to that one soon. The only one I have read is My Antonia – absolutely one of my favourite books of all time… a stunning portrait of the fortitude of the immigrant families who left behind everything in Europe for the promise of land, arrived to nothing and built a future. Strong parallels to the part of Canada I live in. Read it in the winter – it is a winter read.

    My own classics list, should I have one, would likely include also Robert Walser, Borges, Beckett, Kafka and others I want to read more of to fill in some gaps in the influences of modern writers I’ve been reading.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Haha! Yes, I’ve been quite liberal with my definition of a “classic” but luckily the club guidelines allow for a fair bit of flexibility. Much as I love some of the 19th-century literature I’ve read, “classics” should be broader than just the traditional bonnets-and-ballrooms novels, right? That’s why I’ve pushed the boundaries a little by including some lesser-known classics in translation.

      I’m so glad to hear that you loved Willa Cather’s My Antonia I dithered a little over that one, but I’m really looking forward to it now! That’s good advice about reading it in the winter – I shall save it for a January/February read.

      I would be very interested in seeing your classics list should you feel included to put one together. Funnily enough, I very nearly included Walser’s Berlin Stories in mine! I have a copy, so it will probably make an appearance during a future German Lit Month. :)

      Reply
      1. roughghosts

        I do hope you like My Antonia as much as I did. Its sadness and beauty stick with me and now that I think of it I may have to re-read it over the holidays. It is a book one is best to come to in mid-life because I think that is when you best appreciate what Antonia overcomes and her sheer strength and determination. God it’s stunning. Now I am going to have to re-read it!

        Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          Oh, wow! Well, your comments on its beauty and sadness leave me feeling that it’s absolutely up my alley. I don’t currently own a copy so it will be one of the new purchases, possibly post-Christmas if I’m lucky enough to receive a book token or two. (Not that I’m short of reading material – most of these books are sitting on the living-room shelves!)

          Reply
  3. hastanton

    Wow …ambitious and a v interesting list . As for number 47 all I can say is that if you like Buffaloes crossing then it’s the book for you …..Stoner , it ain’t !!!!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thank you. It took me ages to finalise it – I’ve tinkered around with it a fair bit.

      As for Butcher’s Crossing, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read your comment. Buffalo, hmm… let’s see how I get on with it!

      Reply
  4. Jose Ignacio

    Jacqui I’ve only read three on your list, The Widow, The End of the Affair and La invención de Morel, have seen three films based based on another three books on your list and am looking forward to reading Mildred Pierce. Am also familiar with some other authors on you list but not with the books you’re mentioning, Zweig, Highsmith, Waugh,

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Jose. Funnily enough, I’m thinking of reading The Widow over the holidays as it’s short and I’m in the mood for something dark. (In fact I very nearly started it last week but changed my mind at the last minute.)

      The Invention of Morel sounds very intriguing, and it should be a good bet for me especially given my love of the crime novella Bioy Casares penned with his wife, Silvina Ocampo. Have you read that one (Where There’s Love, There’s Hate)? If not, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. As for Mildred Pierce, I just know I’m going to love it – Cain’s Double Indemnity and Postman were top-notch.

      Reply
  5. susanosborne55

    Such a wonderfully varied list, Jacqui! I read Passing last year when it was reissued and thought it a fine novel – I hope you’ll read Quicksand, too. I’ve read a fair sprinkling of the others but too long ago to remember them well – I’ll look forward to your reviews jogging my memory.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Susan. I’m really excited about the books on my list! Yes, I’m sure I’ll read Larson’s Quicksand as well – they’re both quite short, aren’t they? I’ve heard so many good things about her work, especially Passing.

      Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Ali. I’ve tried to keep it fairly manageable – if I read and review one or two of these books each month, then I should be able to do it within three years. :)

      Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Janet. I’m hoping it will give me a little more direction in my reading over the next three years…and I’ve tried to keep it manageable to allow enough ‘space’ to read other books that end up catching my eye!

      Reply
  6. Cathy746books

    What a great list Jacqui. Good luck with it. I loved The End of the Affair and Judith Hearne is an all time favourite. I have that Elizabeth Bowen lined up for March so look forward to hearing what you think!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Cathy. Oh, brilliant! I’ve had The End of the Affair for sooooo long that it’s beginning to feel neglected! So glad to hear that you loved Judith Hearne – I’m looking forward to it very much. Not sure when I’ll get to the Bowen, but I’ll be very interested to see what you think of it too!

      Reply
  7. gertloveday

    I’m really intrigued by what comes into your selection as “classic”. I like Barbara Pym, for example, but she’s not someone I’d ever think of if I were doing this. I myself would find this an intolerably anxiety-making enterprise

    Reply
  8. gertloveday

    Oops message went off unfinished. I’m so conscious f the enormous bank of things already written that I want to read, and there are new books coming out all the time. I hate the very thought of a TBR pile!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Haha! It’s funny how we tend to see these things from different perspectives! Well, a couple of things have prompted me to do this:

      1. I’ve got around 200 unread books at home (mainly physical copies, plus around 30 on the Kindle) many of which have been languishing on the shelves for years. This project — I absolutely cannot think of it as a “challenge” — is a way of disciplining myself to read them. It’s not that I don’t want to read these books, it’s just that it’s so easy to get distracted by something ‘new’ (especially when you follow a broad range of lit blogs).

      2. I feel I need to get some direction in my reading. In a way, this follows on from the previous point as I’m hoping it will give me a structure for exploring the work of some of my favourite authors and recent discoveries (Wharton, Elizabeth Taylor, Rhys, Didion).

      I can understand your horror at the thought of a TBR pile, though! This type of reading list or TBR project won’t suit everybody.

      As for my definition of a “classic”. I’ll admit that I have been very liberal. If I’m honest, most of my ~200 unread books are 20th-century literature/modern classics (quite a few are pre-1960 which some sources use as a cut-off date for their definition of “classics”). These are the books I tend to enjoy the most, so I’ve used my own shelves as a starting point for the list. :)

      Reply
  9. kaggsysbookishramblings

    That’s an excellent list Jacqui and one I’m very much in tune with! I’ve read quite a number of the books on it and there are many others I’d like to read. Look forward to following your progress! Miss Pettigrew is the perfect read for when you want to have a feel-good smile!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, great. Miss Pettigrew was a late addition to my list. I was looking for something that would be fun to read (preferably by a woman author as I needed another to get a 50:50 split), and it caught my eye as I was browsing at the weekend. Delighted to hear you liked it!

      Reply
  10. Brian Joseph

    The list looks great. I would be hard pressed to find a book here that I did not want to read myself.

    I just finished The Age of Innocence and will be posting about it in a couple of weeks.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, great! I look forward to reading your review of the Wharton. I loved The House of Mirth, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy The Age of Innocence just as much (if not more). Wharton was so good at exposing the dynamics at play amongst the society at that time.

      Reply
  11. Claire 'Word by Word'

    I’ve been watching this club for years though never gone so far as to commit to a list, I like how you’ve adapted the list to ensure it fits with your preferences, including plenty of translations and broad scope. I think I’ve only read a couple on the list, I read The Enchanted April this year and though not on your list, I did also read Frankenstein this year, so I’m probably doing better in the classics than usual, and Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall which was a favourite for 2015, a modern classic I am sure.

    I’m looking forward to rearranging piles of books, as far as I go with planning and then equally looking forward to the divergences I’ll take thanks to reading reviews by you and others Jacqui! I am sure some of them will come from your list. :)

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      I’m rather glad the Club’s definition of “classics” is fairly liberal, otherwise I don’t think I could have come up with a list of fifty books I’d like to read in the next few years. Virtually all of the books on my list were written or first published before the early 1960s, so they should fit the bill as 20th-century classics. The Renata Adler is the most recent at 1983, but it’s been re-issued by NYRB Classics, so I’m going with their endorsement of it! The breadth was really important to me. There are so many great classics in translation (and in genres such as crime or sci-fi) that I wanted to step outside the more traditional idea of classics as English or American staples. I’m really excited about my list now, and I feel it will re-energise my approach to reading in the future.

      I remember your review of The Enchanted April – in fact, I’m pretty sure it went straight on my wishlist as a result of your post!

      Flexibility sounds like the way forward for you, Claire – I’m looking forward to seeing what you takes your fancy in 2016. :)

      Reply
  12. Gemma

    This looks like a really great list Jacqui, I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on the books! I’ve only read two on your list – My Antonia and The End of the Affair, both of which I loved. There are some others on there that I’ve been meaning to read for a while so looking forward to hearing what you think of those too :)

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Gemma. Another fan of My Antonia, that’s great to hear. I hummed and hawed about including that one in my list but I’m so glad it’s there now! The End of the Affair sounds wonderful too. I’m really looking forward to it.

      Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Cheers, Stu. Sounds liked I’ve picked a winner with the Waugh! It’s been ages since I’ve tried anything by him – Brideshead and Scoop are the only two I’ve read so far.

      Reply
  13. Naomi

    There are a few on this list that I would also love to read, none that I have read, and many that I haven’t heard of. I do love that they are all more recent classics – I think I would probably enjoy most of these more than older ones as well. Have fun with your choices!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Naomi – I’m sure I will have fun with this. Some of the books in translation are not very widely known (Banffy, Gazdanov and Krudy, for example), and to be honest, I doubt whether I would have heard of them myself had I not been following a variety of book blogs. I really wanted to angle my list towards 20th-century/modern classics rather than 19th-century works – after all, these are the books I tend to enjoy!

      Reply
  14. Guy Savage

    Hello Jacqui:

    I’ve read
    One Fine Day (fantastic) Shame this author didn’t write more
    The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne–wonderful and wickedly amusing
    A Certain Smile–loved it.
    A Game of Hide and Seek
    A View of the Harbour–Of the two by Taylor, A View of the harbour was better IMO
    The Enchanted April–too twee for my tastes
    The Age of Innocence–Wharton–and that meets superb
    The Burning of the World–another NYRB winner
    The Gate–Japanese fiction and me–not a huge winning combo–I liked this but I wanted to shake the characters and whack ’em upside the head. Frustrated more than anything else
    The Girls of Slender Means–Always love Spark and that biting wit
    Hotel Savoy–didn’t love this one
    Voyage in the Dark–anything by Rhys …
    Excellent Women-I’m a Pym fan. I think this one is probably her best known book and it is a wonderful book but not my favourite of hers. You can’t go wrong with anything Pym
    Hangover square–you should love this one
    An Evening with Claire–the novel hits hard after you’ve finished it, and it isn’t until then that you realize what the author is doing with the plot
    The End of the Affair–too romantic for my tastes
    The Shooting Party–really really good.
    A Legacy–read this last year and loved it.
    The Widow–I’m a die hard Simenon nut–haven’t read them all.

    I think that’s everything I’ve read. ANyway, a fantastic list

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, wow thanks so much for the run down, Guy – that’s terrific! And I have you to thank for Sybille Bedford’s A Legacy and Bela Z-M’s The Burning of the World – I bought both of those books off the back of your reviews.

      I’ll be very interested to see how A Game of Hide and Seek compares to A View from the Harbour. My mother absolutely adored Elizabeth Taylor’s books, and I’m only sorry that it’s taken me so long to get around to her (Mrs Palfrey was my first earlier this year).

      I do like Japanese fiction so I might be okay with The Gate. It sounds like a quiet, introspective read – maybe too ‘closed’, but I’m curious to try Soseki.

      I’ve yet to try Pym (another of my mother’s fave authors), and it sounds as though there’s more to look forward to with her work. Ditto Muriel Spark.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to jot down some notes on the ones you’ve read – it’s really good to see your comments. I’m sure I’ve got lots of great reading to look forward to!

      Reply
  15. Jennifer

    I have only read about 10 of these but you have one of my favorite books on your list. One Fine Day is such a beautifully written book. I hope you enjoy it! I joined The Classics Club a few months ago. I keep trying to resist the urge to change and add to my list.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, that’s fantastic! I’ve got very high hopes for One Fine Day as it sounds just my type of thing. I’m sure I’ll get the urge to tinker with my list as well…it must be so tempting to make changes especially if something else catches your eye. Thanks for taking the time to drop by – I’m hoping to get to know some of the other Classic Clubbers as well.

      Reply
  16. Tom Cunliffe

    A very good list – you have a reading treat there for the next few years. I’ve read a few of those but many I’ve not touched. It just goes to show what a wealth of material exists already before we even think about moving to our current time.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Tom. I’m really looking forward to getting started with it. I feel as though I’ve missed out on so many 20th-century classics over the years, so this is one way of trying to plug a few of those gaps.

      Reply
  17. Emma

    Great project and great list.

    I’ve read:
    7.My Antonia by Willa Cather
    12.The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (pre-blog)
    13.Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
    22.The Adventures of Sindbad by Gyula Krudy (currently reading, actually)
    23.The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (pre-blog)
    32.Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth
    33.A Certain Smile by Françoise Sagan (pre-blog)
    43.The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (pre-blog)
    45.Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
    46.The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

    Have fun. I’m looking forward to reading your reviews.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Emma. I’m pretty excited about the books on my list. Ooh, you’ve read quite a few of them – that’s great. I’m really looking forward to seeing your review of the Krudy. A friend bought me a copy of Sindbad as a gift, so I really owe it to them to read it….plus the blurb sounds wonderful!

      Reply
  18. audreyschoeman

    What a great list! I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read any of these titles, although I have read some others by a few of the authors. I’m looking forward to reading these reviews over the next few years and being inspired!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thank you. No need to feel any embarrassment, Audrey – I haven’t read any of them either! It feels good to have a little project on the go, something to give my reading some more direction in the future. :)

      Reply
  19. Caroline

    It’s rather a great list. Much more modern classics than most included.
    I’ve read quite a few and many are on the piles, so ? looking forward to have my memory refreshed or get a nudge.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Caroline. I really wanted to angle my list towards modern/20th-century classics as several of these books are already on my bookshelves at home! I know you loved The Leopard, and Elizabeth Taylor’s A Game of Hide and Seek has been on my radar ever since it made your end-of-year highlights last year. So, it looks like I’ve got plenty to look forward to over the next few years. :)

      Reply
  20. TJ @ MyBookStrings

    I’m so happy to see My Antonia on this list. It is one of my favorites as well, together with The Age of Innocence. Actually, I’ve read 10 books from your list, and they’ve all been very good. Enjoy!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Hurrah – you’re the third person to highlight My Antonia as a favourite! I’m so glad I went with it in the end (it was a fairly late addition to my list). The Age of Innocence had to be there. I’m keen to get back to Wharton as it been a while since I read The House of Mirth (which I loved). If anything, I suspect Innocence will be even better. :)

      Reply
  21. 1streading

    I’ve read 9 – including the two by favourite authors Spark and Roth. How did you choose the actual novels – were they unread work by writers you loved, or a way of reading new writers?
    I’m now trying very hard not to start my own list! (It would be heavy on all the Russian novels I still haven’t read!)

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      That’s a very good question, Grant. It was a combination of both of those things, plus I’ve also tried to include several books that have been languishing on my shelves for several years. (40 of my 50 books are sitting in the TBR piles at home.) I can’t recall how long the Graham Greene has been there, but it’s ten years at the very least. (The Leopard, The Go-Between and Vile Bodies have been hanging around for quite a long time as well.) The books by Elizabeth Taylor, Didion, Rhys, Hamilton, Kawabata, Wharton, Yates, Szerb, Vesaas, Highsmith and Cain all fall into the category of unread works by favourite writers. The ‘new-to-me’ writers include Bedford, Bowen, Cather, Comyns, Dorothy B. Hughes, Isherwood, Shirley Jackson, Krudy, Pym, Manning, O’Hara, Roth, Saki and Soseki. I’ve been meaning to try these authors for a while, so this project seemed like a good way of disciplining myself to do it!

      You should think about putting together your own list (even if you ran it as your own project/reading list) – I would love to see your choices. David Heb is contemplating it, so he may well produce a list of his own, too. As for the Russians, I’m woefully unread on that front. I kind of wimped out of putting the big hitters on my list, although I have included a Gazdanov. He’s a little more in line with my tastes than some of the Russian heavyweights. :)

      Reply
  22. poppypeacockpens

    Fantastic list… sorely tempted to join in!

    Read a couple (15&43) & got 37,44 & 46 on the TBR & several on the wishlist

    Listened to I Capture the Castle -read by Jenny Aggutter earlier this year Fab! Got a copy to read too

    I’ve just stocked up on a few audiobooks for Jan & Feb (post-op convalescence) one of which is End of the Affair… of course the literary quality NOT the promise of lying in bed with Colin Firth storytelling in my ears was absolutely the key motivation to this purchase😆

    Look forward to following you through the list xx

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thank you! It’s worth considering, especially as there’s a fair bit of flexibility regarding your choice of books and preferred timelines.

      What did you think of Jane Hervey’s Vain Shadow? That was a fairly late addition to my list (along with Miss Pettigrew) as I wanted to push the books by women writers up to twenty-five without doubling up too much. The Enchanted April sounds perfect for spring, so I’ll try to slot it into the appropriate month.

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the audio version of I Capture the Castle. There’s a lot of love for that novel, so I’m very keen to try it. As for The End of the Affair audiobook, I’m sure Colin Firth’s dulcet tones will help you recuperate in the New Year – I hope all goes well with your operation. Take care, Poppy x

      Reply
      1. poppypeacockpens

        I loved Vain Shadow… very clever characterisation with a superb witty & comedic undertone despite the subject.

        Loved Enchanted April too… just acquired Vera, The Pastor’s Wife & German Garden by Von Armin

        Reply
        1. JacquiWine Post author

          Oh, brilliant! Vain Shadow has been on my wishlist for a while, simply because I loved the sound of it from the blurb at the Persephone website. It’s good to hear that you’ve picked up others by von Arnim, that’s a very encouraging sign. :)

          Reply
  23. banff1972

    Agree with others–great list. Of the ones I’ve read, I think Passing, The Death of the Heart, and, especially, Voyage in the Dark are fantastic. Enjoying hearing what others have to say. Pretty much ready to head out the door and buy My Antonia now…

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, that’s great – thanks! I’m looking forward to getting back to Rhys. I revisited After Leaving Mr Mackenzie earlier this year, and it was just as impressive second time around.

      Good to hear that you enjoyed Passing and The Death of the Heart., too. I’ve been meaning to try Larsen and Bowen for ages, so I’m hoping to fall for them as well. My Antonia is starting to sound like a must-read, isn’t it? I’m so glad I put it on my list!

      Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Ratih. I had to pick at least fifty books to meet the guidelines for The Classics Club! It should be fine – as long as I read one or two per month I’ll be on track to finish by Dec 2018. :)

      Reply
  24. Scott W

    Jacqui – What a curious and compelling list. I’ve read 11 of the titles on it, but am struck by how little I know about many of the others, so I’ll be very much looking forward to reading your reviews of both those I’ve read and those I know nothing about. Of course I’m thrilled to see Bánffy on the list, although I suspect you’ll have to add the third volume as well: make that 51 classics for you. As for your definition, I admire and share your flexibility.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Scott. Well, I have to make this work for me, so it was always going to be an eclectic list! And yes, I had to include Banffy – that trilogy deserves to be better known. I’ve actually included the first novel (They Were Counted) in my list, partly to get a bit of a head start, but primarily because I must write about all of the books on my list. (That’s one of the criteria for the Classics Club – you have to review each book.) I can write about They Were Counted — that won’t be a problem — but I’m much less sure about volumes two and three. Looking back at Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, I found it increasingly difficult to review each book in the series without revealing spoilers on developments in the preceding volumes or repeating points I’d already made in the first review. It’s pretty hard to find fresh things to say after a while (or least that’s how I felt at the time). So, while I will definitely read all three novels in Banffy’s ‘The Writing on the Wall’ trilogy, I can’t promise to review numbers two and three! :)

      Out of interest, which eleven have you read? I love to know what you thought of one or two of them.

      Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thank you! It’s difficult isn’t it, especially when there’s a constant stream of new books being published all the time. I’m hoping this project will give me a structure for reading some of the modern classics that having been languishing on my shelves for a few years. I’m looking forward to getting started now.

      Reply
  25. litlove

    I’m not in the least surprised this is an excellent list! Have you read Willa Cather before? She’s one of my all-time favourite writers, and I actually prefer her post-My Antonia novels: The Professor’s House, A Lost Lady, Death Comes to the Archbishop. Though My Antonia is good, there’s a leap in style once she’s finished with the prairie. I’ll be very curious to see which ones off this list you’ll be reading in 2016!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      I’m rather pleased with my list – it took me ages to finalise it! No, I haven’t read anything by Willa Cather, but I’ve been meaning to try her for a while. My list contains a mix of new-to-me authors alongside tried-and-trusted faves, and Cather falls into the first of these categories. I can’t think why I plumped for My Antonia over her others…possibly because it caught my eye in the ‘staff picks’ display in Foyles a while back. I’m delighted to hear that she’s one of your favourite writers as it means there’s a lot more for me to look forward to if I take to My Antonia. And even if I’m not crazy about that one, it sounds as though it might be worth my trying one of her post-prairie novels. All good stuff!

      Reply
  26. Caroline

    Great list. I’ve read quite a few, but seeing them in this list makes me want to reread them. Miss Pettigrew is great fun, although the casual racism is shocking- if acceptable when it was first published.
    I feel inspired to make my own list. And would definitely put Elizabeth Taylor on it. And more Elizabeth Bowen. the Heat of the Day is one of the best WW2 books I think.
    Strangely I have read very few from your list by male authors.
    Look forward to reading your comments on the classics. Caroline

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Caroline. That’s interesting about Miss Pettigrew. As you say, it’s probably a reflection of attitudes at the time of publication. I noticed something similar in one or two of the Philip Marlowe novels when I revisited them a year or so ago. Just a few casual remarks here or there, but they did stick out somewhat.

      Great to hear that you rate The Heat of the Day. I’ve never read anything by Bowen, so I’m particularly looking forward to trying that one (plus I really love that era). Elizabeth Taylor is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I could have easily added another couple of her books to my list (along with more Wharton and Rhys), but that would have meant tripling or quadrupling up on books by the same author and I’ve tried to avoid doing that as far as possible. Funnily enough, virtually all the books by male authors are already on my shelves, so I’ve made a conscious effort to seek out a few more women. It’ll be interesting to see which books turn out to be my favourites.

      Reply
  27. Alice

    Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, I Capture the Castle, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Appointment in Samara are AMAZING books, the former two are two of my all time favourites. I can’t wait for you to read and review them, would be so interested to see how you find them.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Excellent, another fan of the Barbara Comyns! So many people have commented either here or via Twitter to say it’s one of their favourites – I’m very much looking forward to reading it now. O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra has been hanging around on the shelves for several years so I really ought to include it in my 2016 reading. Thanks for dropping by, Alice – it’s very interesting to see your comments.

      Reply
  28. Pingback: Classics Club | Crista Ermiya : Marginalia

  29. airofideas

    I Capture the Castle was a great read! We have a few books in common on our classics club lists. I’m really looking forward to reading A Game of Hide and Seek as well as The Enchanted April.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Oh, wonderful! I’m looking forward to reading I Capture the Castle as it sounds like a much-loved novel – I’ve heard nothing but praise for it.

      Funnily enough, I’ve just finished A Game of Hide and Seek, as it was right at the top of my TBR pile. It’s a very fine book – quite subtle, more so than Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, which the only other Taylor I’ve read so far. That said, she’s fast becoming one of my favourite writers, so I’m sure I’ll be trying others in the future.

      Reply
  30. Pingback: A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor | JacquiWine's Journal

  31. Anarchivist

    Mildred Pierce and We Have Always Lived in the Castle are two of my all-time favorites! I really like In a Lonely Place as well — nice to see it getting some attention. I’ve always meant to read Hangover Square, so I might add that to my list.

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Great! Sounds like I have plenty to look forward to.The Shirley Jackson seems to be a firm favourite across quite a wide range of readers and bloggers – I’ve heard nothing but praise for it.

      To tell you the truth, I’m a little nervous about the prospect of reading In a Lonely Place because the film is one of my all-time faves. That said, I’ve heard that there are some differences between the two versions, so I’m going to try to think of the novel as a completely fresh story.

      Patrick Hamilton is wonderful! I loved his Slaves of Solitude, so I’m excited to read Hangover Square. One for this year, I think. Thanks for dropping by.

      Reply
  32. Pingback: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene | JacquiWine's Journal

  33. Max Cairnduff

    Great list. As someone says upthread in the comments there’s hardly a title there I wouldn’t happily read myself (I’ve actually read very few of them).

    Strange to think of a book only twenty years old as a classic. Surely the definition of a classic as opposed to contemporary fiction is the same as the distinction between history and current affairs – stuff from before I was born versus stuff after I was born…

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks, Max – that’s a fair distinction. I’ve been fairly liberal with my definition of a classic, but most of the books were published pre-1960 (which tends to be the more widely-accepted threshold these days). I ran into difficulties with finding enough books by women writers, hence my need to stretch the definition to include Adler’s Pitch Dark (1983) and Didion’s Slouching (1968)! A couple of the others are 1962/3 (Jackson and Spark), but pretty much everything else is earlier. :)

      Reply
  34. Pingback: Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys | JacquiWine's Journal

  35. Pingback: Joining the Classics Club – David's Book World

  36. Pingback: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson | JacquiWine's Journal

  37. rosecityreader

    I’ve read 10 of these and different books by some of the same authors — Barbara Pym, Evelyn Waugh, and Muriel Sparks are favorites of mine, for example. From the list, I’ve read:

    Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
    My Ántonia by Willa Cather
    The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
    The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
    The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
    Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
    Improper Stories by Saki
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

    I like your list because they are classics but many are different than the books that show up in a lot of the standard Must Read lists, like the Modern Library top 100 list. I can’t resist a list, so spend a lot of time reading prize winners and other Must Reads. A little eclecticism in my choices wouldn’t hurt!

    Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      Thanks! I really wanted my list to be a little different from the norm, plus they’re all books from the sorts of genres or periods I tend to enjoy so I should be on fairly safe ground..

      I loved Excellent Women, so Barbara Pym is well on her way to becoming one of my favourite authors too. Vile Bodies and Muriel Spark I’ve yet to get to, but I’m sure they’ll be great. It’s good to hear that you’ve read quite a few of the books on my list, always bodes well!

      Reply
    1. JacquiWine Post author

      I’m not sure how well known she is among the wider reading public, but her profile is reasonable across the literary blogosphere. I guess she’s best known for A Legacy which was one of the reasons why I put it on my list.

      Reply
  38. Pingback: The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (tr. Ruth L.C. Simms) | JacquiWine's Journal

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