26 October 2008

Chicklit and classics

Madame Bovary arrived in the post yesterday morning. My Amazon deliveries usually contain lovely bubblegum paperbacks with handbags and jaunty heroines on the cover. For years I've lived on a literary diet of chicklit and I've probably acquired enough to open a second-hand bookshop.

But recently I've been craving something else. It started at the RNA conference in July. One of the workshops was on the influence of Shakespeare on romantic fiction and as the floor opened up to comments and questions, I realised that I have a gaping hole where my knowledge of classical literature should be.

While I do love biographies of 19th century adventuresses, Oscar Wilde and inter-war authors like Evelyn Waugh, F Scott Fitzgerald and PG Wodehouse, most of the classic novels have somehow slipped me by. School ruined Hardy and Harper Lee by making us analyse The Mayor of Casterbridge and To Kill a Mockingbird to death. But Balzac, Woolf, Dickens etc? All unchartered territory.

This, I feel, is wrong; it's a blip in my education. Consequently, my to-be-read pile has become a rather eclectic mix. It currently includes:

Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter Downes
Faberge's Eggs by Toby Faber
Madame Bovary by Flaubert

Instead of reading only for enjoyment I'm now going to try and Improve My Mind as well, which may be a struggle given how densely-packed the text is in Cousin Bette.

I'm starting with Madame Bovary. Wish me luck.

What's on your TBR pile?


Rachael Johns said...

2008 was gonna be my year of Classics! I started with Jane Eyre - quite liked it - went on to The STrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and kinda got off track after that. But I have got an Eng Lit degree, so although it was long ago, I guess I've read my share. I read Madame Bovary at uni and think I quite liked it. Liked Anna Karenina better though :)

Good luck with your TBR pile... mine at the moment, consists of mostly category (I don't seem to have time to read much more) but currently I'm reading Kate Atkinson's 'One Good Turn' and it's fabulous. Will be hunting down her backlist.

Right... nuff babble from me...off to do some work :)

Phillipa said...

Kate Atkinson - One Good Turn
Christina Jones - Going the Distance
Linwood Barclay - No Time for Goodbye
Ian Rankin - Doors Open

currently reading....Katie Fforde
Wedding Season and loving it so much.

Thanks for visiting my blog and congrats on your HMB contest win. Good luck with the writing.


Lucy said...

Thanks, Phillipa

Sorry for being such a plank when leaving comments on your site - I blame it on having a touchpad with a mind of its own...

I loved Wedding Season.

Rach, hmm, you got me thinking. I studied Golden Age Spanish Lit so I guess I have read some of the classics - just not in English...