by George Eliot
Like Agnes Grey, which I talked about for Letter B, Silas Marner is another one of those divisive classics; there are people out there who think it's horrendously boring, and then there are people like me who think it's a beautiful and underrated story.
When you say George Eliot's name the first story to pop into your head might be Middlemarch or Daniel Deronda, but Silas Marner is always the story I think of after first being introduced to Eliot through it during my A Level English Literature course. What I love most about this classic is the sense of people getting what they deserve, even if it's not in the way you first expect it. It's something I try to emulate in my own writing, though I doubt I do it quite as skilfully as Eliot.
This is the book which made me realise that when it comes to classics it's the literature from the 19th century I most enjoy. I love the themes - from the rise of the new woman, to imperialism, to the Gothic - and I enjoy the rich character studies so many 19th century classics contain.
If you're new to 19th century literature and you find dense books intimidating, something like Silas Marner might be a great starting place for you!