Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Around 530 pages
I read this novel in high school (that seems to be a recurring theme lately) and it definitely made an impression on me. While it is certainly not the best example of great literature, it has such historical significance that I would definitely qualify it as a must read.
The story starts with Shelby family deciding to sell Uncle Tom and Harry, the son of the maid Eliza. Eliza decides to run away with Harry, while Uncle Tom is sold to the St. Clare's. The second half of the novel contains so much religious preaching that it made The Pilgrim's Progress seem blasphemous.
So on the one hand, this book did a lot for the abolitionist movement while on the other hand, it created many African American stereotypes. Still, the good definitely outweighs that bad. The story goes that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe for the first time he said "So this is the little lady who started this great war."
I feel petty complaining about this novel since it fueled such an important movement, but the excessive sentimentalism did get to me. Still, there were certainly some exciting parts and overall, it is well worth the time.
Best selling book of the 19th century.
Harriet Beecher received a severed ear from a slave after publishing this novel. Ah, the South...
UP NEXT: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell