Although the Victorian era is famous (or notorious, depending on how heavy you like your books) for its thousand-page tomes such as Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son, William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair or George Eliot’s Middlemarch, 19th century literature does include some lighter fare, still worth the sampling.
1. Agnes Grey (1847) by Anne Bronte
In Agnes’ lonely and friendless life appears a conscientious and principled young rector, stirring the governess’s heart to flame with hope for a future of Godly companionship. (102 pages) Read more here and here.
2. Cricket: A Tale of Humble Life (1886) by Silas K. Hocking
Cricket tells a simple but heart-warming tale of two impoverished youths living in Liverpool whose trials draw them into a friendship with one another. Billy, who has been homeless from a young age and never entered a church in his life, learns first of Jesus Christ from Caroline (Cricket), and her life becomes a living testimony of the truth of the gospel in a way that the mystifying Sunday sermons in the local chapel cannot. (248 pages) Read more here.
3. Lady Susan (1871) by Jane Austen
Lady Susan, a flirtatious scheming widow (with a grown daughter, no less) gets “thrills” out of seducing the attentions of even married men for her own amusement. One might consider Lady Susan to be George Wickham’s female double. This time, though, we get to hear the story from the reprobate’s point of view. (94 pages) Read more here.
4. Cranford (1853) by Elizabeth Gaskell
While typical Victorian novels uphold romantic, marital love as the penultimate relationship, Cranford appreciates sisterly and neighbourly love. Christians, too, often idolize the love between husband and wife as the sublime picture of Christ and his bride (the church), forgetting the other picture of humble submission and kindness – love between brothers and sisters within the body of Christ. (192 pages) Read more here.