12 Essential English Novels Everyone Should Read

April 5, 2014 – 10:59 am

Image shows Dorothea and Will Ladislaw, from George Eliot's Middlemarch.This tumultuous tale of life in a bleak farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors is a popular set text for GCSE and A-level English study, but away from the demands of the classroom it’s easier to enjoy its drama and intensity. Populated largely by characters whose inability to control their own emotions leads to violence and revenge, it’s a tale that spans two generations and two families. At the heart of the story is the mysterious ‘gypsy’, Heathcliff, adopted as a ragamuffin child into the Earnshaw family to live at Wuthering Heights.Image shows Emily Brontë in a painting by her brother, Bramwell. As he grows up, he becomes close to his adopted sister Cathy, falling in love with her only to be met with crushing disappointment when she marries Edgar Linton, a kind and gentle man from neighbouring Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff disappears and returns a rich, educated man bent on revenge.

Image shows the pyramid-shaped Ministry of Justice building from 1984.2. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch, subtitled “A Study of Provincial Life”, is the story of the inhabitants of a Midlands village in the 1830s. Masterfully weaving together several plotlines, the novel charts the fortunes of an interesting cast of characters, exploring their motivations, delusions and preoccupations. The remarkable thing about Middlemarch is the detail and realism with which George Eliot describes emotions. Feelings you thought were unique to you are described here in a way that could be describing your own thoughts. It’s one of the reasons why Middlemarch has been described the likes of Martin Amis and Julian Barnes as one of the greatest English novels ever written; read it and you’ll soon find yourself agreeing with them.

Image shows a hobbit hole from the filming of The Lord of the Rings. Image shows an alethiometer from His Dark Materials. Image shows a copy of Jane Eyre next to a cup of tea. Image shows the painting, 'Dickens's dream', in which Charles Dickens sleeps in a sepia-toned room. The only colourful part is where the images from his dreams - reflecting scenes from his novels - swirl around his head.

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Source: www.oxford-royale.co.uk

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