20 Best-Loved Novels of the Last 225 Years

20 Best-Loved Novels of the Last 225 Years

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes, scourge of criminals everywhere, whether they be lurking in London’s foggy backstreets or plotting behind the walls of an idyllic country mansion, and his faithful colleague Dr Watson solve twelve breathtaking and perplexing mysteries.

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

A strange series of events changes the orphaned Pip’s life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. 

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre dazzled readers with its passionate depiction of a woman’s search for equality and freedom.

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers.

One Day – David Nicholls

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Cathy is a beautiful and wilful young woman torn between her soft-hearted husband and Heathcliff, the passionate and resentful man who has loved her since childhood. The power of their bond creates a maelstrom of cruelty and violence which will leave one of them dead.

Middlemarch – George Eliot

Dorothea is bright, beautiful and rebellious. Lydgate is the ambitious new doctor in town. Both of them long to make a positive difference in the world. But their stories do not proceed as expected and both they, and the other inhabitants of Middlemarch, must struggle to reconcile themselves to their fates and find their places in the world. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens. 

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice and hypocrisy.

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

Navigating his way through the challenges of growing up, Holden dissects the ‘phony’ aspects of society, and the ‘phonies’ themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection. 

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. 

Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, arrives in Amiens in northern France in 1910 to stay with the Azaire family, and falls in love with unhappily married Isabelle. But, with the world on the brink of war, the relationship falters, and Stephen volunteers to fight on the Western Front

The Island – Victoria Hislop

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past. But all Sofia admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that she will learn more.

Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh

A collection of short stories, written in either Scots, Scottish English or British English, revolving around various residents of Leith, Edinburgh who either use heroin, are friends of the core group of heroin users, or engage in destructive and destructive activities.

Kane and Abel – Jeffrey Archer

William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless Polish immigrant – two men born on the same day on opposite sides of the world, their paths destined to cross in the ruthless struggle to build a fortune.

Riders – Jilly Cooper

Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside, Riders offers an intoxicating blend of swooning romance, adventure and hilarious high jinks. 

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend

Meet Adrian Mole, a hapless teenager providing an unabashed, pimples-and-all glimpse into adolescent life, writing candidly about his parents’ marital troubles, the dog, his life as a tortured poet and ‘misunderstood intellectual’.

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