This year, I took part in the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. I love digging into the classics and each of the 12 categories gave it a very nice structure. I did all twelve because I like to go all the way when I bite off a challenge like this, so here's what I chose.
A Nineteenth Century Classic - The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
A Twentieth Century Classic - The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
A Classic by a Woman - The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
A Classic in Translation - The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
A Classic Published before 1800 - Evelina by Fanny Burney
A Romance Classic - Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
A Gothic Classic - The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
A Classic with a number in the title - Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
A Classic which includes the name of an animal - The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A Classic set in a place you'd like to visit - Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger (New York)
An Award-winning classic - Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (Carnegie Medal, 1958)
A Russian Classic - The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
What a wonderful mixed bag it was. Because my reactions to these dozen classics varied so much, I thought I'd like to award medals to my top three picks, counting from the bottom to the top. I could think of a few contenders for wooden spoons too, but won't be that mean. Here are the best in my opinion.
This one goes to The Fountain Overflows, which was a delight from start to finish. We don't need to wonder what living in the Edwardian era must have been like, because the Aubrey family make it very clear and entertaining. Their life wasn't a bed of roses though, as they practically lived off the smell of an oily rag. But the quirkiness of the family members and the resiliency of the human spirit come through loud and clear.
I've got to choose The Moonstone, which might be appropriate, since it was a silver gem. Wilkie Collins was so clever and tricky with the setting up of this Gothic mystery. There was no way readers could piece the clues together, although when we look back, the evidence was all there. It's so very dramatic and Victorian too.
I'm going with The Brothers Karamazov, because it was such an ambitious novel with such a lot of scope. It was the first Russian classic I've ever read, and whetted my appetite for more. It's a murder mystery with a very psychological twist that kept me turning the pages, even though there were so many of them.
I enjoyed the challenge so much, I might have another go next year and hopefully come across a few more new favourites. I highly recommend working through a list like this.