Happy Tuesday! I’m back to school and miss my summer, so maybe not so happy this week lol. But since it’s Tuesday, it’s time for TOP TEN TUESDAY hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Hidden Gems in a genre. The most hidden gems I’ve found lately are classics. Every summer, a friend and I choose a book to read off the Top 100 Books of the Century. We’ve found some real gems and some read duds. If you’d like to read a classic but maybe one more off the beaten path a bit, try one of these…
Top Ten (or so) Classics Gems
(Amazon book descriptions below)
Through the eyes of young George Willard, the inner lives of many of Winesburg’s inhabitants open to us. Before George leaves the community, we have learned much about his mother Elizabeth, his friend Helen White, his teacher Kate Swift and other Winesburg residents — the lonely, sensitive Dr. Reefy, the tormented Rev. Charles Hartman and the enigmatic Wing Biddlebaum among them.
Through Anderson’s art, their stories are woven into a powerful portrayal of community life, and, ironically, of the isolation its close atmosphere can engender. A great success on its first publication in 1919, Winesburg, Ohio profoundly influenced a generation of fiction writers with its deeply moving poetic realism. It endures as a classic portrait of American life.
The Magnificent Ambersons
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1918, The Magnificent Ambersons chronicles the changing fortunes of three generations of an American dynasty. The protagonist of Booth Tarkington’s great historical drama is George Amberson Minafer, the spoiled and arrogant grandson of the founder of the family’s magnificence. Eclipsed by a new breed of developers, financiers, and manufacturers, this pampered scion begins his gradual descent from the midwestern aristocracy to the working class.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.
By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death — and to the author’s timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition
The Death of the Heart
In this piercing story of innocence betrayed set in the thirties, the orphaned Portia is stranded in the sophisticated and politely treacherous world of her wealthy half-brother’s home in London.There she encounters the attractive, carefree cad Eddie. To him, Portia is at once child and woman, and her fears her gushing love. To her, Eddie is the only reaason to be alive. But when Eddie follows Portia to a sea-side resort, the flash of a cigarette lighter in a darkened cinema illuminates a stunning romantic betrayal–and sets in motion one of the most moving and desperate flights of the heart in modern literature.
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the third in Kennedy’s Albany cycle, Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, and full-time bum with the gift of gab, has hit bottom. Years earlier he’d left Albany after he dropped his infant son accidentally, and the boy died. Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and present.
The Good Soldier
When John Dowell and his wife befriend Edward and Leonora Ashburnham, they appear to be the perfect couple. He is a distinguished soldier and she is beautiful and intelligent. However, what lies beneath the surface of their marriage is far more sinister and their influence leads John into a tragic drama that threatens to destroy everything he cares about.
The Heart of the Matter
Graham Greene’s masterpiece, The Heart of the Matter, tells the story of a good man enmeshed in love, intrigue, and evil in a West African coastal town. Scobie is bound by strict integrity to his role as assistant police commissioner and by severe responsibility to his wife, Louise, for whom he cares with a fatal pity.
When Scobie falls in love with the young widow Helen, he finds vital passion again yielding to pity, integrity giving way to deceit and dishonor—a vortex leading directly to murder. As Scobie’s world crumbles, his personal crisis develops the foundation of a story by turns suspenseful, fascinating, and, finally, tragic.
Originally published in 1948, The Heart of the Matter is the unforgettable portrait of one man—flawed yet heroic, destroyed and redeemed by a terrible conflict of passion and faith.
Have you read any of these? What are some less-talked-about classics that I should check out? I love a hidden gem!