Mini reviews: Classics I’ve read recently!

Since getting my new job, I’ve been getting through a lot more classics – the reason being, I listen to audiobooks as I’m driving to and from work! I wanted to use my commuting time better so I went looking for audiobook apps and discovered that there are quite a few free ones with classic books read by volunteers. Depending on the book, I’m able to get in one or two chapters on my commute which has been adding up to an extra three or four books each month! Finally, I’m getting through some of those classics on my shelves that I really ‘should’ have read by now. Here are my thoughts on some of my recent audiobook adventures!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Unfortunately, this one didn’t really do anything for me. Despite the vivid world-building, I found the whole thing to be a bit juvenile. Obstacles were overcome far too easily; the second there was a hint of danger, the author would write one sentence and it would be dealt with. There was literally no peril and it didn’t make me very invested.

While it was nice to get a bit of backstory on the characters, it was also a little ridiculous. I really struggled to suspend my disbelief. And can I just say, Dorothy is completely dull and does absolutely nothing for the entire book. The scarecrow, lion and tin man were far more interesting characters.

It was also really violent? I found this strange considering what Baum said in his introduction about wanting to remove the nightmares from his fairytale – I wouldn’t exactly call it a success given the first thing Dorothy does in Oz is kill someone (albeit accidentally) and then sets out to kill again!

Overall, I’m glad to be able to say I’ve read this but it’s definitely not a new favourite. 3/5 stars.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This one was epically ambiguous and I liked it!

I love a good ghost story and when you add in the question of whether the ghosts are actually there or your narrator is just psychotic, it certainly makes for interesting reading! Apart from the sometimes labyrinthine sentences, I really enjoyed James’ style. And it’s impossible to discuss the ending without spoilers so all I will say is WOW. Didn’t see it coming.

A great read that raises some very interesting questions and which I will possibly return to in the future. 4/5 stars.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

This is the third Jane Austen book I have read and (dare I say it?) it might be my favourite one yet! I really enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humour and loved that it didn’t take itself too seriously.

Austen’s work transcends time and the friendships/rivalries especially are very realistic. I could totally imagine modern-day teenagers behaving in exactly the same way as Catherine and Isabella! This is 19th century young adult literature at its finest.

I also loved discovering that this book is the source of one of my favourite quotes! The assertion that “the person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid” has cemented Henry Tilney firmly in my list of favourite fictional males.

My only slight complaint is that the abbey itself wasn’t even mentioned until over halfway through, so don’t go in expecting it to be all action from the word go! However, I found the writing and the opening plot enjoyable enough that I wasn’t too bothered. It just got even better when the abbey was finally introduced! 4/5 stars.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Sorry Alice fans but this one just didn’t work for me at all. Don’t get me wrong, I like weird – but there was no point to it?! There was literally zero plot so the weirdness was just kind of THERE and I just wanted it to be over. The whole thing was just super dull. Plus, the ending was downright lazy. I can’t even.

Also, Alice is not likeable at all! She has to be one of the most arrogant little girls in all of literature and I felt no connection with her whatsoever.

Maybe if I’d read this as a child, I might have enjoyed it more but as it stands, I’m really disappointed by this ‘classic’. 2/5 stars.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

I’ve always had a soft spot for the magic of Peter Pan and was pleased to see that a lot of the movie adaptations have stayed fairly true to the book. The characters were just as I’d imagined them/seen them on TV – except Tinkerbell whose catchphrase in this book was not one I particularly liked! Foul-mouthed little fairy. (Upon reflection, I get that she was using the term ‘ass’ as in ‘donkey’, but I still didn’t find it particularly becoming and it was repeated far too often!)

I liked the writing style, the way the author spoke directly to the reader, and I found the ending surprisingly sad! A sweet read that I’m glad I finally made time for. 3.75/5 stars.

Silas Marner by George Eliot

There’s a sweet story here. Somewhere. It’s just buried under a lot of waffle and useless information I wasn’t interested in! I was 100% here for Silas.

I will admit that a lot of the character back-stories tied together more towards the end. However, at the start, I couldn’t understand why I was being told so much about these minor people! There were times when I found my concentration wandering and had to go back to check who was being talked about and for what reason (though in some cases, I’m still a little bewildered!)

I did like the story of Silas’ redemption and his growing relationship with Eppie, and the ending made my heart really happy (though obviously I can’t say what happened!) 3.5/5 stars.

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Can anyone spot what’s wrong with this picture?! 

Does anyone else listen to audiobooks? Or have you read any of these classics? What do you recommend I read/listen to next?!

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