Olga Gibbs' Favourite Classics


Who would have thought?! Joking aside, this week I am honoured to give the author of the Celestial Creatures series a space on my blog to ramble on about books! If you haven't heard about her before, let me introduce you:

"Olga Gibbs lives in a leafy-green town, nestled amongst the green fields of West Sussex, England. She was writing from the age of fifteen, mainly short stories and novellas and was a guest columnist for a local newspaper. When she is not dreaming up new adventures for her imaginary friends, she does outreach work with teenagers. She is currently writing a stand-alone psychological crime thriller book."

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A lot of readers commented on how descriptive my writing voice is, how much attention I pay to setting of the mood for the scene – both are not very common is today's novels. One reader suggested that I should write “Victorian novels” (I don’t think it was a compliment, but I’d take it as one). The bottom line: my writing was called “poetic” and I think for that I have to thank the large volume of classic novels that I’ve read.

I’ve read some Shakespeare (who didn’t?), read “War and Peace” by Tolstoy on a dare, which I lost as I’ve managed to read only first two books; I’ve read “Hundred years of solitude”, read Bronte sisters and I absolutely love Russian classics. But in this post I’ll share my top three favourite classics.



1. “Three musketeers” Dumas and “Count de Monte Cristo” Dumas.


Okay, I had a lot of push back when I call Dumas’ novels “Classics”. My literature professor was adamant that Dumas’ stories are not classics. To this day I wonder if maybe only “dark and broody” literature would make a cut as “classics” in his eyes. Of course Dumas’ stories were old, but according to him: “not everything that is old is classic”. And as much as I’d agree with him, Dumas’s stories are my “classic”.

First time I’ve read “Three musketeers”, I was ten or eleven, I fell in love with the book. Adventure, elegant rapier fights, typical “good vs bad” story, gallant and honourable musketeers and beautiful dames – oh man, I wanted to be there, to be the fourth musketeer!

Obsessively, I was reading this book every day for a few days, while still attending school, and I wasn’t able to pull myself away from it. I was reading at night, under the blanket, I was obsessing about it during the school. This book started my obsession with French history which I still carry nowadays.

2. “Crime and Punishment” Dostoevsky.


This one is dark, broody, and no one would contest its “classic” status. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they struggled to read it, how hard it was for them to engage with the story. Russian classics in general have a reputation for a “difficult” reading and this one always sits in the top ten “difficult” readings. But I loved it!

I read it a few days, I was reading it for pleasure, and oh boy, did I get it.

The story was a true “page turner” for me. It was raw, and although it was a crime story, it wasn’t concerned with “who done it” (from onset we follow the killer), but instead the story was raising many difficult moral questions about social status and class, about abuse, about effect of killing on a killer, and the moral ones, which interest me the most and which still would raise so many debates:

“Is it okay to steal from a thief?” and mainly: “Is it okay to kill a “bad” person?”

Looking back at the final version of “Hallow”, I realise that “Crime and Punishment”’s moral dilemmas about social class issues, moral obligations seeped and influenced “Hallow”.

3. “Three men in a boat” Jerome K Jerome.


From dark “Crime and Punishment”, which is riddled with difficult moral questions, we move on to something funny and light.

Confession time: I like to laugh. Maybe too much and too often, but comedy is one of my favourite genres. The problem is that I don’t find every comedy funny. Slapstick is definitely not my genre and I like witty and sarcastic humour, and “Three men in a boat” is definitely witty.

First time I’ve read “Three men in a boat”, I was about fourteen and I giggled throughout this book. The hypochondriac main character who finds every single disease in himself apart from “housemaid’s knee” (in my original version it was a “labour fever” – the one a lady, who’s giving birth might have), the guided tour that he and his friends took around the cemetery, the trouble-filled camping around in the delta of river Thames – I’ve found all three “men” idiotic, yet very likable. I’ve read this book more times than any other book!

For fear to bore you, I’ll stop my list and my explanations here, but feel free to comment – I would love to hear about your favourite classic novels.

Hope you’ve enjoyed,
Best regards, Olga Gibbs.

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