The Period Novels We're Reading To Escape To

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 6 days ago | Features

Image: Keira Knightley in the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'. Image source.  

These are pretty wild times we’re living in. Which is why we’ve been dealing with social distancing by escaping with a few of our favourite period novels. Between these pages (or floating through our ears via the filmic adaptations), there are themes explored that offer a healthy dose of both nostalgia and perspective. So these are the tomes that are getting us through the tough times.

Pride and Prejudice
Few period novels are quite as classic as Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. It is often credited with creating the romantic comedy genre and, in Elizabeth Bennett, it gives us a smart, stubborn and fairly radical female protagonist. Oh and did we mention that there’s a fab film version starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen?

Little Women
You may have seen the recent film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (or even the nineties version before it), but this 1868 novel is still well worth a read (or re-read). It gives us many wonderful female characters to fall in love with and also offers a few creative solutions for entertaining oneself when cooped up inside (spoiler alert: start your own theatre troupe). 

A Room with a View
E.M. Forster’s 1908 novel ‘A Room with a View’ offers a tongue-in-cheek critique of English society at the turn of the 20th century. It is set between England and Italy, though, so makes us feel as though we’re escaping on a European holiday. And the film – starring Maggie Smith and Helena Bonham Carter – does just that as well.

Orlando, Virginia Woolf
Orlando is one of Virginia Woolf’s feminist classics. It traces the adventures of a poet who lives for centuries and whose sex changes from man to woman across those annals of time. It’s a fascinating read and, once you finish, there is also a great film adaptation starring Tilda Swinton.   

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel was published in 1925 and it perfectly captures the so-called Roaring Twenties. It was a time of jazz music and lavish parties, but it was also a time of prohibition and restriction – which doesn’t feel all too far removed from our current reality tbh. This one is always a great read (with a few film adaptations to follow).

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