Top Ten Tuesday- Hidden Classics and Modern Classics Gems

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish blog.

This week’s topic is: Hidden Gem Books in X Genre

I’ve chosen to focus on Hidden Classics and Modern Classics Gems:

Bonus: All of these books happen to be written by women (#whorunstheworld)



1. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

Obviously, Charlotte Bronte is not a hidden figure in classic literature. However, her second published novel Shirley, is not as popular as her other works. I don’t think it lives up to Jane Eyre or Villette, but it is still well-worth a look. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it focuses on the rapid changes in English society during the dawn of industrialization. Although a little melodramatic in places, it features strong female protagonists and important social commentary.



2. Summer by Edith Wharton

Summer is a lesser known part of Wharton’s oeuvre, although it shouldn’t be. It’s a claustrophobic and infuriating read. Wharton referred to this as ‘the hot Ethan Frome,” and considered it one of her personal favorites. It’s realistic depiction of a young woman’s sexual awakening was shocking and revolutionary during its time.  The novel’s depicitions of the ways society treats women and sex are still relevant today.



3. A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian

A Little Love Song is a charming coming-of-age YA story set in the midst of WWII. Two sisters experience a defining summer of freedom, change, and love. This one will probably appeal to anyone who loves I Capture the Castle-it’s a delighful and heartwarming read. If that’s not enough to recommned it, alot of the plot centers around a used bookshop and a hidden diary.



4. The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery’s writing for adults is often completely overshadowed by her beloved children’s classics. Yet, Valancy Sterling is a heroine that fans of Anne and Emily should meet. You will root for her as she takes control of her own life after years of living under her relatives’ thumbs, and cheer when she earns the happy-ending she deserves. The Blue Castle is a lovely fairytale-esque novel that  makes for perfect comfort reading



5. The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield

This might just be the best short story collection I’ve ever read. Kiwi Modernist Katherine Mansfield should really be a household name on par with Virginia Woolf. It’s a tragedy that she died so young and that there is not more of her work for us to cherish. Her short stories are innovative, timeless, and lyrical.



6. West with the Night by Beryl Markham 

This is a stunningly written memoir of Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. Markham was raised in Kenya, and her life has multiple connections to the real-life individuals in Isak Dinesen’s/Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa. She is an inspiring figure whose life makes for fascinating reading. What’s more, she is an amazingly talented writer. At the time of its publication, many even believed her journalist husband had written this memoir, as what woman could possibly write so brilliantly? Beryl Markham that’s who.



7. Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons 

Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm may be famous, but her other books are less known. This is a Cinderella story featuring quirky characters set in the 1920s. It’s a cozy, cheerful read that is worth seeking out. I adore this Virago Modern Classics cover too!



8. The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner 

This is a book that was ahead of its time. Schreiner writes about race, religion, feminism, and marriage. Set in rural nineteenth-century South Africa, it’s messages are still just as important for twenty-first century readers. It’s not the easiest read, but it is a rewarding one.



9. Evelina by Fanny Burney 

I’ve been mentioning Fanny Burney a lot lately in connection to #austeninaugustrbr. She was after all one of Jane Austen’s favorite writers. I wish Burney was more well-known, so I decided to give her another shout-out here. Evelina is probably her most accessible novel, and is also really funny to boot. I need to reread this gem myself.



10. Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann

Another lovely coming-of-age novel, Dusty Answer perfectly captures adolescent growing pains and first heartbreaks. Lehman’s first novel caused a stir upon its publication in 1927, and became a bestseller. It is a quietly beautiful book that deserves greater recognition.


What are some of your favorite hidden Classics and/or Modern Classics gems?


22 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday- Hidden Classics and Modern Classics Gems

Add yours

  1. I officially love all of your choices. I wish more LM Montgomery fans knew The Blue Castle.

    Katherine Mansfield was brilliant. It makes you wonder what she’d have produced if she’d lived longer.

    I’ve never looked at Summer in the Ethan Frome context, but they do make interesting bookends (no pun intended.)

    I agree with you about Shirley but I think that Bronte’s goal with it was a bit different than what she was trying to accomplish with Jane Eyre and Villette. It seems like she was being influenced a bit by her friendship with Elizabeth Gaskell, since a lot of similar themes were later explored in Gaskell’s work. It would have been interesting to see what direction Charlotte’s work with have taken if she’d lived longer. (Sadly the case with so many writers!)

    Liked by 1 person

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