I have so many loves, just Dickens could almost fill the list…. I omit some lengthy choices like Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, (a page-turner!); Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet; Trollop’s He Knew He Was Right, and probably the greatest novel, War and Peace.
In no particular order:
1. The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas, the greatest adventure tale of all time!
2. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, the first paragraph and the final page are two of the most famous passages in all of literature. The plot in between ain’t bad either!
3. Great Expectations, also by Dickens with his usual array of unforgettable characters (e.g. Miss Haversham in her bridal finery, sitting at the table with the mice-infested cake, and the clock on the wall, stopped at the hour she was jilted long ago!) Like Shakespeare and Tolstoy, Dickens creates great characters!
4.Ninety-Three, Victor Hugo fast paced story of the French reign of terror in 1793.
5. Cousine Bette, my favorite Balzac novel of a poor cousin’s revenge against her wealthy relatives.
6.Cheri and The Last of Cheri, two novellas by Colette, sensuous writing! A middle-aged courtesan trains a 19 year old boy about life and love, ah me, what an opera this would have made with a score by, say, Massenet or Puccini!
7. McTeague by Frank Norris. Naturalistic style, bare bones dialogue, one of the gloomiest endings ever!
8.The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, Tennessee Williams’ lone novel, with his usual sad, neurotic females this one adrift in Rome.
9.The Last Hurrah, Edwin O’Conner. This is an election year. Why not a political novel? This one is excellent and I laughed for 427 pages!
10.The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Published posthumously in 1958, this novel is a throw-back to the great 19th century tradition in style. Beautifully written, it is the story of a 19th century Sicilian prince who watches, powerlessly, as his island country slides into what Sicily would become and from which it has still not recovered.
11.The Death of Napoleon, Simon Leys. What if the real Napoleon had escaped from St. Helena leaving a double in his place? This could be read as a fable or the nature of greatness or identity or just for fun. A Delight!
Whoops! I knew ten would not be enough.
How about plays? or short stories? or memoirs? I have loads loves there, too…