Thursday, December 8, 2011

3 Neglected Literary Classics

The Guardian newspaper's website has a fun series of lists called "The Ten Best". Among the offerings are: ten best graphic novels, the ten best songs based on books, ten best fictional sleuths and ten best neglected literary classics.

From this last list come the following three reading suggestions from Rachel Cooke:

The Rector's Daughter (M)
by F.M Mayor

"Dedmayne Rectory is quietly decaying, its striped chintz and darkened rooms a bastion of outmoded Victorian values. Here Mary has spent 35 years devoting herself to her sister, now dead, and to her father, Canon Jocelyn. Although she is pitied by her neighbors for this muted existence, Mary is content. But when she meets Robert Herbert, Mary's ease is destroyed and years of suppressed emotion surface through her desire for him. First published in 1924, this novel is a rich exploration of Mary's relationship with her father, of her need for Robert, and the way in which, through each, she comes to a clearer understanding of love."- Publisher

The Odd Women (M)
by George Gissing

"I love all these books, but The Odd Women is the one I wish everyone would read. Virginia and Alice Madden, impoverished by the death of their father, are growing old together in a genteel boarding house, a fate their younger sister, Monica, has been spared thanks to a loveless marriage. All are desperate. But then the Maddens meet daring feminist Rhoda Nunn. Will her example encourage the Maddens to escape their rhetorical and emotional prisons, or is Rhoda, having fallen suddenly in love, soon to bow out of the great struggle herself?" - Rachel Cooke of The Guardian

The Wife: a novel (M)
by Meg Wolitzer

"Joan Castelman is en route to Finland to watch her husband, renowned author Joe Castleman, win the Helsinki Prize when she decides to leave him. What follows is Joan's fascinating recollection of their marriage, his career, and her fading dreams. Telling her story in alternating segments, she starts in the 1950s with the beginning of the couple's professor-student relationship and continues through to the present, their 40 years of marriage stacking up the unspoken regrets that lead to Helsinki.

This is Wolitzer's sixth novel (following Surrender, Dorothy (M)), and she's as sharp as ever. Her funny yet harshly bitter book features amazingly crafted prose, and the story of what Joan sacrifices to support her husband and his illustrious career is just as astounding. Complete with a staggering twist ending, this is not one to miss. " - Library Journal

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