As part of their newly re-styled site, The Classics Club are hosting a monthly meme, an opportunity for members to share their opinions and ideas on the classics, and as I am in a blogging mood I have decided it is time to tackle this month’s tricky question:
What is your favourite classic book and why?
As with most of the members’ comments and answers I have seen so far, I have struggled with this question. It is a tough one, and even now I am not entirely sure, and I know as soon as I press ‘publish’ I will think ‘oh, but I love [insert title of a classic]. My whole love of the classics stems from nineteenth century novels, from Jane Austen at the turn of the 1800s right the way through to Arthur Conan Doyle and the sheer genius of Sherlock Holmes. I’ll let you in to a shameful little secret…when I was younger I was convinced that Sherlock Holmes was a real person! Even my favourite Disney film takes inspiration from the famous Baker Street sleuth; that’s right, I might be the only person in the world who loves Basil the Great Mouse Detective.
And as I sit here now I keep thinking why didn’t I choose Conan Doyle, but I am going to stick with the novel that first sprung to mind as soon as I read this question, safe in the knowledge that it paves the way for Sherlock Holmes and all the other detective stories I so love reading. My favourite classic has got to be Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone. I first read this when I was at university and studying a unit on detective fiction. It is true that chronologically speaking Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Dickens’ Bleak House have elements of the detective years before Collins appeared on the scene, The Moonstone is the first novel that solely focuses on a detective and a believable crime (apes and chimneys do NOT count!). It follows various narratives, with a host of characters pitching in their viewpoint and suspicions. There are carefully placed clues, some red herrings and a whole list of possible suspects, just what a detective fiction reader craves. Collins is a fantastic writer and for those of you yet to read any of his novels I cannot praise them enough; you should definitely read The Moonstone or The Woman in White, or better yet, both of them. I only wish I hadn’t packed up all my books and sent them to my new house today, because I am so tempted to read The Moonstone right now!