5 Irresistible Classic Reads to Make You Swoon

Brynn Kelly

by Brynn Kelly, author of Deception Island

Did you know that the original ending of Great Expectations left Pip and Estella vowing to remain only friends?

After Charles Dickens sent his famous novel to the printer in 1861, he hurriedly rewrote it with a more optimistic romantic conclusion. “On the whole, I think it is for the better,” he declared.

Not all literary types agreed.

George Bernard Shaw later complained that the beginning and middle of the novel was unhappy, thus “the conventional happy ending is an outrage.” And George Orwell was scathing of Dickens’s fondness for the Victorian happy ending with a loving family crammed into one house, living a soft, idle and sheltered life, “constantly multiplying, like a bed of oysters.”

I say give me that bed of oysters. Here are my favorite romantic classics from ye olden days. What are yours?

Brynn Kelly

Anything by Jane Austen and most things Brontë

Of course.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 1859

If you’ve read this sweeping saga about the French Revolution, you’ll know that it’s not a happy ending for all (and if you haven’t, I’m going to sit here and wait until you do). But it’s a perfectly layered conclusion to an epic journey of love and upheaval and betrayal and sacrifice.

A Room with a View by E. M. Forster, 1908

A beautifully written and witty tale about a young woman who must decide where she fits in a changing society and where her heart lies.

Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery, 1918

It wasn’t until I reread this novel as an adult that I appreciated it as a classic romance, where the heroine from Anne of Green Gables must figure out the real meaning of love to earn her HEA.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, 1936

Oh, and Rebecca, published two years later. Heck, anything by Daphne du Maurier. Not all of her novels have an HEA but they taught me long ago that the best love stories are those served with suspense and adventure.

 

What classic novels make you swoon?

 

About Deception Island:

Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the French Foreign Legionnaire soon finds himself trapped with a woman who’s nothing he expects, and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he’s made a critical mistake. As scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they’re double-crossed, they’ll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it’s their lives—and hearts—on the line.

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Comments ( 24 )
  1. Seana Kelly
    March 9, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    Reply

    Hi Brynn! I love the romantic classics, too. My list includes Pride & Prejudice (most Jane Austen books), Jane Eyre, and A Room with a View.

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm
      Reply

      Ah, a woman after my own heart! I think I might have to make 2017 the year of re-reading… (Is March too late to declare “A Year Of…”?)

      • Seana Kelly
        March 9, 2017 at 4:41 pm
        Reply

        It’s never too late to declare The Year of… Well, maybe December 🙂

        • Brynn Kelly
          March 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm
          Reply

          You’d just have to take the rest of the year off 🙂

  2. Priscilla Oliveras
    March 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm
    Reply

    Ooooh, you hit my #1 with almost anything by Jane Austen– first would be Pride and Prejudice. I swoon just thinking about it. 🙂

    Gotta say, when I first read Wuthering Heights I raced out to find the movie so I could watch it and see the characters come to life. Big disappointment. Some of my favorite scenes were cut or mixed together. I know some may have loved the film, but for me, I preferred the book.

    I actually haven’t read Jamaica Inn– might have to check that out. And it’s been ages since I read A Tale of Two Cities (freshman year of high school). I had a fabulous lit teacher and I still recall reading the story out loud, the in-depth discussions on symbolism. I think that class is what really turned me on to the beauty and power of the written word.

    Oh, to move my readers the way those authors have moved me. That’s my goal! 🙂

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm
      Reply

      Oh, I would have loved to have been in that class. Though reading for a course is never as escapist as reading for pleasure, is it? With film adaptations vs books, I think it’s hard to get past that first love. When I read a book first, I’m often disappointed by the film. And (sometimes) vice-versa!

  3. Arlene McFarlane
    March 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm
    Reply

    Hey Brynn!!

    Great post and line up of books!

    I have to say I liked Pride & Prejudice. Of course, I love any movie version of the book. Even the Bollywood take was excellent: Bride & Prejudice. It’s on Netflix right now, too!!

    Hugs, sister. xo

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 4:36 pm
      Reply

      I haven’t seen that film! Right now adding it to the to-do list… xx

  4. Tina
    March 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm
    Reply

    I love Bronte!!

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 4:39 pm
      Reply

      Yes! How interesting would it be to go on a writing retreat with those women!

  5. Mia Kay
    March 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm
    Reply

    Loved your list, Brynn! My own “swoony” reads:
    1. Gaskell’s “North and South”
    2. Heyer’s “A Civil Contract,” “Venetia,” “Frederica” or … actually, all things Heyer.
    3. Joanna Bourne’s “Rogue Spy”
    4. Grace Burrowes “The Duke’s Disaster” and “Douglas”

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 4:41 pm
      Reply

      Ah yes, North and South. Swoon… Thanks for the list – I’m going to have to do some catching up on some of those titles!

  6. Sharon Wray
    March 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm
    Reply

    I love all of your choices, Brynn and would add all the books by Victoria Holt (and a few Jean Plaidy/Philippa Carr novels) even though they might not be old enough to be considered classics.

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 4:44 pm
      Reply

      Yes, it’s frightening what some people consider a classic these days. I was gobsmacked to come across a list that included books like Bridget Jones’ Diary. Which I love – but I remember when it was published! I’m not *that* old!

  7. Jen Gilroy
    March 9, 2017 at 5:21 pm
    Reply

    Enjoyed this post very much, Brynn. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen is near the top of my list, but I’m delighted you included Montgomery. If you haven’t already read it, “The Blue Castle” (also by Montgomery) is also a classic romance.

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 5:44 pm
      Reply

      I haven’t read that! Thank you – I shall track it down forthwith!

  8. Fiona Marsden
    March 9, 2017 at 5:45 pm
    Reply

    I love Austen and Heyer and Anne of Green Gables right through to Rilla of Ingleside. I love Dorothy L Sayers Lord Peter and Harriet. Love Christie and Patricia Wentworth Golden Age Mysteries. Love Baroness Orczy Scarlet Pimpernel. Love Lord of the Rings. Stopping now.

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm
      Reply

      Oh no, do go on 🙂 Yes, I love how the Anne series develops from a children’s book to a romance to a novel about parenting, and back to a children’s book. Great suggestions 🙂

  9. Carrie Nichols
    March 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm
    Reply

    Brynn, I’m also a lover of Tale of Two Cities. Not exactly HEA for all but such a swoon worthy unselfish act!
    And speaking of the French Revolution, I love The Scarlet Pimpernel. The first time I read it, I was rather young and didn’t get the ending. LOL! I couldn’t understand why retiring to their cabin was such a big deal. Fast forward a few years and I was like “Oh!”.
    I also love Austen, especially Persuasion. I’m a sucker for second chance stores.

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 7:05 pm
      Reply

      Love the Scarlet Pimpernel story! I have to admit that the first time I read Pride and Prejudice, aged about eleven, I loathed Darcy. I thought he was horrible and sexist and was devastated that Elizabeth didn’t take up with that nice Colonel Fitzwilliam instead. (Whatever happened to him, anyway?)

  10. Cassandra O'Leary
    March 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm
    Reply

    I love A Room With A View, both the book and the film. The romance is a strong element of the story, as is Lucy understanding herself and what will make her happy, and of course it’s set in Italy so that’s a winner for me! I also love Jane Austen novels and Little Women, which isn’t strictly romance but it has a couple of lovely romance threads.

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 7:08 pm
      Reply

      Yes, Room with a View took me by (a pleasant) surprise. I had no idea it was going to be so romantic. And because it was a renowned classic, and I’d read other Forsters, I was braced for an ending that wasn’t so HEA.

  11. Tracy Brody
    March 9, 2017 at 6:07 pm
    Reply

    Hangs head in shame at not having read the classics. Can someone please stop time so I can read more? Especially need to read Pride and Prejudice and 100 other books by author friends.

    • Brynn Kelly
      March 9, 2017 at 7:09 pm
      Reply

      Oh, I know that feeling, Tracy. Too many distractions in this crazy century! Reading is my meditation. If I don’t get enough of it, I get all antsy.

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