Saturday, December 28, 2019

Back to the Classics Challenge 2019, Wrap-Up Post

Back to the Classics Challenge 2019, Wrap-Up Post 

I completed all 12 Categories in the Back to the Classics Challenge 2019, which is hosted by Books and Chocolate

The titles are hyperlinked to my full review – cuz why wouldn’t you want to read those?

Bleak House by Charles Dickens – a 19thCentury Classic
Loved it: Some say this is Dickens’ best. I rank it third behind A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield. It has the distinction as the only Dickens novel with a female narrator

The Ox Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark – A 20thCentury Classic
Liked it a lot:  Must be defined as a Western, but it is much more. Tragically beautiful.

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor – A Classic by a Woman Author
Indifferent: I like her short stories much better. 

Papillon by Henri Charriére – A Classic in Translation
Indifferent: I found the narrator unreliable. That could work if this was pure fiction, but it is supposed to be an autobiographical novel. For me, if the autobiographer is unreliable, then it’s a manifesto, not a story.

Candide by Voltaire – A Classic Comedy
Indifferent: A sharp satire to serve as Candide’s rebuttal of Optimism. I was unimpressed, and didn’t find it funny.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – A Classic Tragedy
Liked it a lot: A non-fiction novel that hauntingly tells the tale of…four shotgun blasts, that all told, ended six human lives.

Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais – A Very Long Classic (over 1000 pages)
Didn’t like it. Codpiece jokes – lots of codpiece jokes. Probably pretty bold and edgy in the 16thCentury, but now? Meh.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft – A Classic Novella (under 250 pages)
Liked it. Very creepy – creepy in a good way. Part of the Cthulu Mythos and the only Lovecraft story published as a single book.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – A Classic of the Americas
Liked it a lot: Most consider Huckleberry Finn to be Twain’s greatest work, but for me it's Tom Sawyer.

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay - A Classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania
Liked it: An Australian classic, unsolved mystery, and a great argument for rereads. I nearly hated this the first time I read it, but with the reread I noticed some very subtle things that made it quite enjoyable.

The Oak Openings (alternate title: The Bee Hunter) by James Fennimore Cooper – A Classic Set in a Place Where I Lived (Set along the banks of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan)
Loved it: The last of Cooper’s Wilderness Tales. For me, this easily Cooper’s best.

The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe – A Classic Play
Liked it a lot: Perhaps the best-know rendering of Faustian legend – a man who sells his soul for power and prestige.



  1. Agree with you in your love for In Cold Blood.
    I love Candide. A lot. I do find it very sarcastic.
    Have always wanted to read Gargantua, but I see it wasn't your favorite. Also interested in The Ox one.
    Always great to read your reviews.

    1. If you liked may like Gargantua and Pantagruel. And I heartily recommend The Ox-Bow Incident; it really transcends the Western genre.

  2. I agree, it's the volume that's putting me off. So many books. But I take note of The Ox-Bow.

    1. The complete G&P is five books. The first published was: The Horrible and Terrifying Deeds and Words of the Very Renowned Pantagruel King of the Dipsodes, Son of the Great Giant Gargantua

      You could just read that, before committing to the prequel and three sequels.

  3. High five! I agree: Tom Sawyer is my favorite, over Huckleberry Finn.

    I'm looking forward to reading Faustus one of these days. Soon.

    About Cooper...I think I remember you read Last of the Mohicans, right? I couldn't get through it, but I am disappointed I haven't read anything from this American author. Would you say Oak Openings is worthy enough?

    1. Yes, I've read Last of the Mohicans and the Deerslayer and didn't love them. For the me, the hero in those Leatherstocking Tales is too good to be true. The hero in the Oak Openings, is much more believably flawed...a hero nonetheless, and the females are not quite so helpless and innocent either. I definitely recommend it.

  4. Congrats on completing the challenge and reading some very interesting books by a good many authors I haven't read, but less heard of. I'm planning a reread of Bleak House myself.

  5. Great & varied list. Congratulations on finishing especially with some of those harder titles. I love Bleak House, both the book & the BBC production. I agree with you about Tom Sawyer, too & will check out your Lovecraft review. I came across some lovely hardback books of his works recently but I didn’t know anything about him. Happy New Year to you & your family. 🙂

  6. Alas the French didn't fare well in your list this year! I have Papillon. I've owned it for ages (like decades now) and not picked it up. I'll keep the unreliability of the narration in mind. Happy New Year!

    1. Papillon is quite exciting taken as just a novel, so don't discount it too heavily. I didn't realize I was so hard on the French in 2019, but you are correct, I was. And I'm of French descent. Happy New Year to you too Ruthiella.

  7. I read two of these books to finish my 2019 challenge, too! Ox-bow and Candide. I did love Bleak House when I read it a few years ago.


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