My Top 6 Victorian Novels

To go along with the post on what Victorian novels are on my TBR, here is a post about favorite ones that I have read. I suppose the number of Brontë novels on here will surprise no one, nor will the fact that all but one of these are written by women. We’ll start with my sixth favorite and end with my absolute favorite.

6. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

I read Tess back when I was fifteen (over a decade ago–yikes!), so a lot of the details are hazy; I’m due for a reread. But I clearly remember the emotional reaction I had to several scenes. This book made me cry, and I don’t cry at books too often! This was my first Hardy novel, so I wasn’t quite prepared for how sad it would be. But I loved it. It’s a tragically beautiful book with gorgeous writing and strong characters. My heart continuously broke for Tess as everyone just continued to wrong her. And I hated Angel Clare with a burning fire that I have never felt for another fictional character.

5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Here’s another book about a wronged woman, but she at least gets a happy ending! Anne Brontë is usually overlooked in favor of her sisters, something that I think is criminal. She’s just as good a writer as Charlotte and Emily, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall far surpasses Jane Eyre as a feminist text. This novel deals with a woman leaving her alcoholic, abusive husband and taking their son with her. In the 19th century! That was absolutely unheard of then! And Anne, the one who people usually think of as the “boring” Brontë sister, wrote it! I just love everything about this book.

4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I’ve recommend this one on here several times, and that’s because it’s amazing. North and South is one of my all time favorite romances, right up there with Pride and Prejudice. And that’s not just because Richard Armitage is incredibly sexy as Mr. Thornton in the BBC miniseries (although he really is swoon-worthy)! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this novel is what would happen if Austen and Dickens collaborated. Gaskell highlights major social issues of the day while also crafting two romantic leads who you desperately want to get together.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Another Brontë novel, how shocking. Jane is probably one of my favorite fictional narrators. She’s relatable and sympathetic, and her voice just makes you feel as if you’re her best friend and she’s telling you this exciting story about her life. And I absolutely squeal each time I reach “Reader, I married him” even though I’ve read the book multiple times. And even though Rochester is kind of a jerk. But I still love the romance between them. The proposal scene gives me life.

2. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Someone somewhere is probably shouting, “Stop calling A Little Princess Victorian, Elizabeth. It’s Edwardian!” But I will not. Since it was originally published as a short story in 1887 and was later expanded into a novel in 1905, I maintain that it is a thoroughly Victorian book. This is my all time favorite children’s book and has been since I was about nine. I named one of my childhood dolls Sara after the main character, and my blog name is actually a play on the title. It combines two of my favorite things: the “Cinderella” story and books set at boarding school.

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Everyone knew this was coming, right? Wuthering Heights is not only my favorite Victorian book, it’s my all-time favorite book ever. It has been since I first read it as a fourteen-year-old. A lot of people think I’m crazy for loving this book so much since all the characters are terrible people. But that’s part of why I love it! What’s important to remember is that, despite popular belief, this is not a love story. It’s a story about obsession and revenge, which I find far more interesting.

What are your favorite Victorian novels? Do we share any?

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