Victorians! discussion

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Conversations in the Parlor > Your First Time - Victorian that is

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message 1: by Lindz (new)

Lindz (miss_bovary00) I don't think I have seen this thread any where else. But I was curious what was everyone's first Victorian novel? The first novel that make you go wow and from then on hunt down the classics like Indiana Jones.

My first was a failed attempt when I was 11/12 I tried to read 'Oliver Twist' and 'Wuthering Heights', both miserable failures. But at a more aged 15 I read Little Women and Pride and Prejudice so decided to try Wuthering Heights again and fell in love with the bleak foggy angst ridden pages.


message 2: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) What a fun discussion Lindz!

I can't exactly remember which, but it was either Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. I was 14 or 15 and I read one and then quickly read the other. I fell in love with the vivid language that came to life as I read and the complexities in plot and characters that I had yet to experience. And to this day, I still get swept away in the language and transported into the story with every Victorian novel I read :)


message 3: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 215 comments My first was Great Expectations, probably around 10. My dad is an English prof, so he started us all early ;)

I hated GE, though, and didn't understand Dickens at all. Then, when I was about 13 or 14, I finally read Pride and Prejudice. Not Victorian, but that was pretty much the beginning of the end.


message 4: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Darcy wrote: "My first was Great Expectations, probably around 10. My dad is an English prof, so he started us all early ;)

I hated GE, though, and didn't understand Dickens at all. Then, when I was about 13 or..."


Wow - Dickens when you were 10? At 10 I was reading Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club...


message 5: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 91 comments I read an abridged version of Little Women when I was 7. I discovered the full version a couple of years later, and maintain a smouldering dislike for abridgements. I attempted Oliver Twist at 8; couldn't follow the story but loved the language. And here we are :-)


message 6: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) Mine was also Great Expectations. We read the book my freshman year of high school and I really enjoyed it.


message 7: by Lindz (new)

Lindz (miss_bovary00) Thanks everyone one! I love it how we all tried to read a Dickens or a Bronte as a child and had to try later :). We were ambitious :)


message 8: by Sasha (new)

Sasha | 0 comments Lindz wrote: "I don't think I have seen this thread any where else. But I was curious what was everyone's first Victorian novel? The first novel that make you go wow and from then on hunt down the classics lik..."

Interesting topic, Lindz. It appears that Great Expectations was a popular catalyst. I didn't read GE until I was about 38, although I knew the story well from numerous film and TV adaptations. The book that really inspired me to read 19th C fiction was Bleak House, when I was about 32. It took a little while to get into but it was worth it.


message 9: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1001 comments Great topic, Lindz!

I'm not sure what my first Victorian book was, but I read Middlemarch 2-3 years ago because I wanted a thicker book and not something I'd finish in one day. I was about 3 pages in when I wondered how I'd not discovered that treasure earlier. It sure sparked an interest that hasn't died down since!


message 10: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 215 comments Joy wrote: "Wow - Dickens when you were 10? At 10 I was reading Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club..."

Yeah, but it doesn't really count. I couldn't figure out what any of them were saying, and I really couldn't figure out (at all) why Pip was so interested in Estella. It is funny--I think my parents really encouraged us to read Dickens when we were young because Dickens has so many children in his novels. But as a child, I didn't understand Dickens at all, much less think he was humorous.


message 11: by Maggie (last edited Mar 08, 2010 05:51AM) (new)

Maggie | 83 comments I think my first must have been Little Women (alongside Black Beauty/Heidi/What Katy Did etc - not sure if they're Victorian though) when I was about 7-8 years old. I absolutely loved them all and still do!
My mom says she remembers lots of Dickens being read out to them when she was at at school - I don't reckon Dickens' books are really kids books though - they take a bit of getting through. As do the Brontes.


message 12: by Thalia (new)

Thalia I don't recall reading anything Victorian in high school. It wasn't until I was at college, browsing through the novels at the college book store that I spotted Jane Eyre, thought it sounded good and bought it for pleasure reading. It quickly resulted in the devouring of the rest of the reading requirements for a victorian literature class I wasn't even enrolled in, lol!


message 13: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 91 comments >i>Paula wrote: It sure sparked an interest that hasn't died down since!

I'll say! :-)


message 14: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine | 91 comments Thalia wrote: "I don't recall reading anything Victorian in high school. It wasn't until I was at college, browsing through the novels at the college book store that I spotted Jane Eyre, thought it sounded good ..."

I like this :-)


message 15: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Darcy wrote: "Joy wrote: "Wow - Dickens when you were 10? At 10 I was reading Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club..."

Yeah, but it doesn't really count. I couldn't figure out what any of them were saying..."


I still can't understand why Pip wants to be with Estella! His complete infatuation with her makes me crazy every time I read GE.


message 16: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 215 comments Yeah. I really pity high school students who are afflicted with GE. I know some people love it, but of all of Dickens, that probably isn't the one I'd choose to make high school students read.


message 17: by Lindz (new)

Lindz (miss_bovary00) Thalia wrote: "I don't recall reading anything Victorian in high school. It wasn't until I was at college, browsing through the novels at the college book store that I spotted Jane Eyre, thought it sounded good ..."

I started doing that in high school. Reading books in classes I wasn't in. I remember a friend's english teacher coming up to me and telling me to stop borrowing my friends reading text. 'Of Mice and Men' just sounded way more interesting than what I was having to read:).

It happened again with Uni, and Moby Dick; I should really finish that one day.


message 18: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1001 comments Thalia wrote: "It quickly resulted in the devouring of the rest of the reading requirements for a victorian literature class I wasn't even enrolled in, lol!..."

Now that I can relate to! I still do this; I catch myself at work daydreaming about becoming an English professor and give myself 5 minutes to look at online syllabi and reading lists. (*wistful sigh*) Perhaps when I retire I'll fulfill this idea...


message 19: by Tracey (last edited Mar 09, 2010 10:18PM) (new)

Tracey | 11 comments I actually read Tess of the D'urbevilles only last year - I had been only reading modern books and had never been introduced to classics at school. When I turned 40 I thought I had better start :) I fell in love with this book so much that I am buying and devouring as many classics/victorian books I can. I realised that these were the books I was looking for... Currently reading The Woman in White and loving it. I am soooo excited that I have still have so many to still read - so far adore Thomas Hardy and will read all of his novels. Looking forward to Brontes, George Eliot and Dickens in my TBR pile


message 20: by Lindz (new)

Lindz (miss_bovary00) Sherlock Holmes does count.

Actually I have forgotten about Peter Rabbit!! I loved him as a kid, still do. But didn't relise he was Victorian so Potter never started me off.


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 736 comments What a great idea for a thread, Linz!

It was Jane Eyre for me and that was only just over a year ago! For some reason I always thought the classics would bore me or that I wouldn't understand them. When I picked up Jane Eyre I was mesmerised from the firt line! I fell head over heels in love with the book that I started to devour all things Victorian after that and I haven't stopped since. What the hell was I thinking not reading them before now? That's where the group that is the Victorians! sprang from.

Oh, but also Peter Rabbit was and still is my hero!


message 22: by Maggie (new)

Maggie | 83 comments Oh, yes love peter Rabbit - I love Beatrix Potter!


message 23: by Sara (new)

Sara Sadeghi (lovelylilies123) jane eyre was definitely the first classic for me. just magnificent. i also read wuthering heights, madame Bovary, tale of two cities in the same week.


message 24: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 15, 2010 01:08PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 604 comments Hmmm. A Child's Garden of Verses at 4 or 5. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass at 7 or 8. The Light Princess, at about the same age. Sherlock Holmes, Treasure Island, and Louisa May Alcott at ten.

I got into the hard stuff with Jane Eyre at 14 or so. That summer I read a lot of Alexandre Dumas - The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Cristo.

We were reading Dickens then at school (9th grade), and I don't think any of us enjoyed it. I got in trouble for reading Great Expectations unabridged. "Because that is not the version the rest of the class is reading, Susanna!" - Mrs. Carter, notorious book-killer. (My parents are English professors, you expect they'd let me read Dickens abridged? I think not.)

I am a big Dickens fan now. But I didn't enjoy him (except for Pickwick Papers) until I was out of my teens.

ETA: Peter Rabbit is Victorian in date of writing, but all of the books by publication date are technically Edwardian or later. I loved them, though.


message 25: by Ben (new)

Ben Lovegrove I read Stoker's Dracula when I was about 12, and I loved the old fashioned language. Read Tess of the D' urbervilles shortly afterwards and was taken in by the romance of it.

Dickens has never moved me in the same way authors like Hardy do, however I appreciate his contribution to the supernatural genre.


message 26: by Sara (new)

Sara Sadeghi (lovelylilies123) Susanna wrote: "Hmmm. A Child's Garden of Verses at 4 or 5. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass at 7 or 8. The Light Princess, at about the same age. Sherlock Holmes, Treasure Island, and Louisa ..."
wow. yeah dickens is a good author but i find that he doesn't put enough details in sometimes.


message 27: by Lindz (new)

Lindz (miss_bovary00) Susanna wrote: "Hmmm. A Child's Garden of Verses at 4 or 5. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass at 7 or 8. The Light Princess, at about the same age. Sherlock Holmes, Treasure Island, and Louisa ..."


I did not know that about Potter. I always just assumed even as a kid, that they were Victorian stories. Interesting. Should really get around to reading that Beatrix Potter Bio I have sitting on my shelf.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Lindz wrote: "Susanna wrote: "Hmmm. A Child's Garden of Verses at 4 or 5. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass at 7 or 8. The Light Princess, at about the same age. Sherlock Holmes, Treasure Isl..."

...and do see the recent movie, with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, entitled, Miss Potter. It is truly superb!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) I can't remember if I read Jane Eyre or A Tale of Two Cities first. I was 12-13 years old at the time. I have been pretty much hooked ever since. Then at the age of 18 and 19 and nearly three years at sea on a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker really cemented my love of reading great literature. Cheers! Chris


message 30: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 186 comments When I was 12 or 13 I read Crime and Punishment and then immediately went on to The Brothers Karamazov. Then a rash of Joseph Conrads and Melvilles. Oh, and Kipling.


message 31: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan I grew up in Indonesia, a non-English speaking country, and thus was never exposed to any English literature at school. My first classic was the (non-Victorian) Pride and Prejudice, which I read when I was 16, and I fell in love with it. It was also when my English finally got good enough to read classic literature in its original language. Then I got hooked on the Sherlock Holmes stories and have been interested, on and off, through the years in British classics.

However, for some particular reason, I've never read anything by Dickens, or even Jane Eyre (!), until about a year ago. I consider War and Peace and Middlemarch to be my great discoveries among the Victorians.


message 32: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan Elizabeth wrote: "You hadn't read Jane Eyre until last year, Sandy? I feel like you've read everything. :-) That makes me feel so much better! Bleak House is my most recently "discovery" among the Victorians. I woul..."

Yes. I was a Jane Eyre virgin until last year. And there are loads of classics that I've never read --- I've never read a Trolloppe or Gaskell, and I haven't read Vilette, Wildfell Hall and Bleak House (another Dickens!).


message 33: by Gabriele (new)

Gabriele Wills (muskoka) | 112 comments When I was 13 my best friend, who is a year older, read me a passage from Wuthering Heights. It was the spooky one near the beginning where Mr. Lockwood is frightened by Catherine's ghost scratching at the window. Well, I was hooked! That novel affected me profoundly.

And at this friend's Victorian "cottage" (summer home on a lake), which had been built in 1879, there was a closet filled with musty old books that we pulled out on rainy days. That's where I first read Vanity Fair. (There was also an old gramophone that we played. Nothing is thrown away at a cottage, especially on an island!)

Then I fell in love with Thomas Hardy, first with Far from the Madding Crowd. So by the time I was at university, I happily took a 19th C literature course (although I was in the social sciences), which had a list of 18 books, including Vanity Fair, Bleak House, Middlemarch, some Hardy, and so forth - an immense amount of reading, but somehow I got through it, as well as doing all the work in my own field. The prof was so impressed with my fascination for Hardy that he gave me copies of The Woodlanders and Under the Greenwood Tree, which I think were difficult to find at that time.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Gabriele wrote: "When I was 13 my best friend, who is a year older, read me a passage from Wuthering Heights. It was the spooky one near the beginning where Mr. Lockwood is frightened by Catherine's gho..."

Gabriele, what a wonderful anecdote! Thanks for sharing! I bet you guys had so much in that house on the island. Great memories! Cheers! Chris


message 35: by Gabriele (new)

Gabriele Wills (muskoka) | 112 comments Chris, it was - and still is - such an atmospheric place that it inspired me to write my Muskoka Novels.


message 36: by Lianne (new)

Lianne (eclecticreading) My first encounter with Victorian literature was sometime between 8 and 10, I believe, with Dickens's Oliver Twist (a highly abridged version though) and A Christmas Carol (which, if I recall correctly, was a cartoon adaptation? lol)

Darcy wrote: "My first was Great Expectations, probably around 10. My dad is an English prof, so he started us all early ;)"

Wow, that's pretty cool!


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) My first was Wuthering Heights as a teenager. Absolutely loved it and have been hooked on Victorian literature ever since.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Jenna wrote: "I've really had to think about this one. I'm pretty sure my first Victorian novel was The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Loved it, but have really struggled to read anything else of his. I recently s..."

I want to read The Moonstone as I loved The Woman in White. You didn't like that one, either?


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) There are so many good books out there, if you really don't like it, I wouldn't force myself to read it. I agree, the movie adaptation wasn't very good.


message 40: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) Jenna wrote: "Hi Gabrielle, I tried to read The Woman in White, but didn't get very far either. Then I watched a TV adaptation of it, and I guess I felt no need to try it again. Maybe I should try it again."

I LOVE The Woman in White!


message 41: by Dimpy (new)

Dimpy | 3 comments mine is pride and prejudice.. but what set me about hunting over victorian novels is Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.. i simply adore that book and i'm looking forward to read her remaining novels as well :)


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 736 comments I am amazed at how many of you read things like Middlemarch and Crime and Punishment when you were only 12 or 13!! I was still reading adventure books and Maeve Binchy then (mind you, I don't think I've ever really grown out of them either).


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) I was reading Nancy Drew at twelve and Harlequin romances at thirteen. I think I read Wuthering Heights at fifteen or sixteen. A big leap in reading material there. LOL


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 736 comments Oh!!!! Nancy Drew!!!! I loved her - yes, I was reading her at that age too.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) I still remember The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Loved it. My little sister read the Sweet Valley High series.

It was Wuthering Heights that drew me to Victorian literature and The Woman in White that cemented my love for Victorian mysteries.


message 46: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Gabrielle wrote: "I still remember The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Loved it. My little sister read the Sweet Valley High series.

It was Wuthering Heights that drew me to Victorian literature and The Woman in White that..."


I loved Nancy Drew! And I certainly also read a fair share of the Sweet Valley High and Babysitters Club series. But then I read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and was introduced to literature on a whole other level and never looked back!


message 47: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1001 comments I think when I was 12-13 I was reading whatever I could smuggle out of the library. I remember my mom had to fill out a special form so I could check out books like Gone with the Wind, Stephen King books, and Sacajawea.

I'm impressed by the Dickens' readers at age 10-13. I just turned 32 and still struggle with his books!!


message 48: by Darcy (new)

Darcy | 215 comments Boof wrote: "I am amazed at how many of you read things like Middlemarch and Crime and Punishment when you were only 12 or 13!! I was still reading adventure books and Maeve Binchy then (mind you, I don't think..."

Gabrielle, I'm totally laughing at your mention of They Mystery at Lilac Inn. The submarine! (spoiler alert!) Man, I love the old Nancy Drew novels. The new ones drove me up the wall (and by "new" I mean the ones written in the 80s), but I was completely obsessed with all the original ones. I'm not going to lie--last time I was at my parent's house (er, in December), I curled up with The Hidden Staircase. Good stuff.

I read a lot of the classics at a pretty young age, but I honestly didn't get much out of them--the language was archaic, the sentences were hard to understand, and I couldn't figure out why they spent some much time describing landscapes. Or why they wrote letters. Or why kids weren't allowed to talk around adults. Or pretty much anything except the basic plot. I think, as much as anything, they just helped me develop a taste for very, very long novels. They didn't exactly foster a love of literature, though--it was Nancy Drew who did that ;)


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Oh, yes, I remember The Hidden Staircase. I think I read all the old Nancy Drew novels. Good times! :)


message 50: by Lushbug (new)

Lushbug I read the secret garden when i was about ten and also alice in wonderland and then didnt read many victorian classics till later on when i was in my early twenties and discovered dracula, the brontes and wilkie collins. curently collect old books and have some lovely copies of dickens and a pretty illusrated copy of vanity fair. Books were so pretty back then and add to my enjoyment of them


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