In the countryside, we have a lot of free time, and fortunately: the books are there to help us pass the time! But far from being just a "hobby", writing and reading bring us very discreet but important long-term benefits such as learning spelling without any effort, opening your mind, the imagination that works ... For you today we have concocted a short and simple list of Cottagecore books to read absolutely!
1. Charlotte Brönte, Jane Eyre.
If you must start by reading a country classic to perfection, go read Jane Eyre. The writing is simple, it is not heavy. It is an easy to read classic. Jane Eyre is a wild child, or at least she is described as wild. She is not stupid, and she clearly notices the deplorable conditions in which the women and the poor of her time are treated: she is both. Orphan, without parents, welcomed by a woman who would have preferred her not to be there, Jane is an unhappy child who grows up without love. She made a sincere friend in the boarding school where she was going to be sent, but she died of an infectious disease (as was very common in the 19th century) due to the trying conditions of the boarding school. Jane will then become a governess for a man with whom she will sincerely fall in love, despite all the chasms that separate them (age, social class, marriage). We will admit that we read the novel mainly for this incredibly well-woven love story, and the character of Mr. Edward Rochester. In short: we are lost in a hard and cold world. Charlotte Brönte draws inspiration from her own story all over the place, and she unashamedly describes a century when women clearly had no place.
2. Anne of the Green Gables.
Popularized by the Netflix series "Anne with an E", this novel follows the lineage of the classics we started with with Jane Eyre. This novel from the very beginning of the 20th century follows the line of Jane Eyre: Anne Shirley is an orphan little girl. She is alone, but she is going to be adopted by a brother and sister who live together and have no children. Anne will happily discover life in the countryside, punctuated by the eggs of the hens to collect in the morning, the horses in the yard, the donkeys, the cows to be milked and their hot milk which turns into cream. Only one problem: Anne is sent by mistake to the Cuthberts (the brother and sister who welcome her). The two protagonists wished to have a boy to help them on the farm: Anne will be kind and hardworking. She, too, will prove in her own way how you can do as a woman in a man's world. And then, we are not going to lie to each other: we are overly attached to the figure of Anne. Her big teeth, her freckles, and her carrot red hair. This little redhead will develop and prove to the Cuthbert her good will and her incredible imagination. Anne has the particularity of turning everything she touches into gold. This is a very inspiring book when it comes to getting your spirits up.
3. "Les Malheurs de Sophie", Sophie's misfortune, a French cottagecore novel.
If you are interested in the French classics, after taking a tour of the English classics, you will love "Les Malheurs de Sophie". I do not know if there is a translation worthy of the name in English, but know that all the little French girls read this book in their youth, and they watched this cartoon when they spent lunchtime on television. ! This novel also dates from the 19th century, and it was written by the “Countess de Ségur”. The story takes place during Napoleon's Second Empire. Sophie is the antihero who is also an orphan. She is haunted by memories of her parents which sometimes lead her to act irrationally. Sophie is no good little girl, and her adventures teach French girls what to do and what not to do. One day, Sophie swallows too much cream for example that the farmer of her domain has just done: she ends up falling seriously ill and can no longer eat cream afterwards. Or else Sophie tries to play a trick on her cousin Paul, to laugh but this trick ends up being returned to her. As a rule, Sophie always suffers from these bad experiences and she does not manage to be like her cousins, Camille, and Madeleine de Fleurville, also called "Les Petites Filles Modèles". What is good about this novel, besides the writing and the endearing character of Sophie, is the description of the places in which the narrator lives. Indeed, the story takes place in a castle set in the landscape of the French countryside of the 19th century. The cartoon is also very touching, I suggest you watch it, although I am not sure it will have the same effect on you as I did when I was 8 years old.
4. The tales of Charles Perrault.
Another French novel very Cottagecore: the tales of Charles Perrault. Seriously, there is a story behind the Disney movies, behind Snow White, Aurora and all the other princesses. These stories take place in Europe, and the tales come from extremely far back in time. What could be more rustic than the tales where Aurore leaves, for example, lives on the edge of a forest, with her fairy godmothers? She spends her time baking, weaving, embroidering, and those until she is 18 years old. She then leaves her finger with a needle, and that is the tragedy: she will fall into a sleep of 1000 years, until a prince comes to wake her up with a sweet romantic kiss. These tales are not just tales, there is always a hidden moral and this is how one should see the tales of Charles Perrault - or his adaptations in film released to an American audience, then then worldwide, Walt. Disney. It is remarkably interesting to dive back into the tales, already for morale - they all remind us more or less of a nostalgic time when everything was easy - but also for inspiration from the princesses. Princesses have that aura of kindness, benevolence and fairness that should inspire every young girl. Look at Cinderella: Even when trifles happen to her, she always manages to bounce back from the trials the universe puts in her way, and the universe gives her back. If you want to pump up a bit with a good dose of positivity, I recommend the real tales of Charles Perrault, adapted and translated from French, their native language (even if many tales come from Germany and even further afield).
5. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.
The setting of this novel may well take place in a circus, life is so well romanticized and professionally written that it can be integrated into the Cottagecore. It's simple, this book, it's one of the most beautiful books I read in my youth.The story is wonderful, the theme is spellbinding: the plot is breathtaking and there are leaps in time that do not hinder us through the thread of understanding the story. The plot takes place in the 19th century. Two children, Marco, and Celia are going to be the subject of some sort of unhealthy "bet" between two adults. Celia’s father, and the "Man in Gray", who will adopt the orphan Marco. Their clash will take place on the spooky stage of an original circus: no vulgar red streamers or sticky yellow on the marquees, only elegant white and black. The circus itself is a black and white circus, there are only small touches of red to enhance these neutral tones. In addition to being incredibly poetic, the author touches us by adding lots of delicious little details that allow us to be projected into the novel. The cold, the melting caramel, the magic, the tarot cards, the burning tea, the impossible love stories, the romance, the gentlemen, the sadness, the rain, and the circus acts. This is truly one of the finest novels I have read, and even though the circus goes from town to town, it is on the edge of town every time. He settles into an in-between, as if he were in limbo. This is exactly what we are looking for in Cottagecore: our escape route. The latter can be represented by limbo.
6. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman.
Once again, I know that I see classics that everyone knows, but echoing "The Night Circus", we find in Coraline this theme of limbo. And this is particularly important in Cottagecore, it is even central: the flight. Escape from this stressful world that we no longer understand, and whose technology is beyond us through dreams, the simple things, and aesthetics. "Beauty will save the world". It is a bit like that, Coraline. First, Nail Gaiman is probably one of the best authors you need to read to dream and train your imagination. Then, Coraline is a little girl who still lives, I give it to you in thousand: in the countryside. She lives in a hamlet where there are not many houses, in truth she only has two neighbors who do not live extremely far from her house. Otherwise, Coraline's parents must "go to town" to buy her new things for class, for example. Coraline is bored because she has a wandering and adventurous soul. She wants to see other horizons, and this is how she will be trapped by the filthy spider web of her ugly mother-in-law. If you have seen the movie, well done, it is awesome! Everyone is seen it I know, but which one of us took the time to read the book? I honestly invite you to look, the book is worth the detour.
7. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.
It is not my fault that all Cottagecore books are known and trusted classics!
Well, all my readers know Alice in Wonderland well. This story rocked our space, as did the version of Alice walking through the looking glass. Alice is a young girl with a romantic soul who dreams of new and unknown elsewhere. We still find this theme of the escape! Yes! The rest, you know it well: Alice is going to fall asleep on a tree branch, and dream of a fabulous kingdom with the evil Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the running rabbit who has no time , the Cheshire Cat, and all those other fabulous mythological characters that haunt children's imaginations. Alice is dressed in long dresses, in the Disney version she has a sky-blue dress with white tights, black patent shoes. She is the perfect figure of the wise little girl, but she is not: here you can make a connection between Jane Eyre, Sophie's Woes, Anne Shirley, and Alice. Our bucolic ideal is doomed for most of us to remain the promise of somewhere else, a dream that we have in a corner of our head, and where to return there we go on Pinterest, Tumblr or TikTok. Trapped in our modern bubbles.
8. Emma Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert.
This dear Emma Bovary. You may not know it, but all young French people are familiar with this work which is a classic for them. Have you heard of this literary infectious disease, "bovarysm"? No? It is normal. Maybe you have it, but you do not know it.
Bovarysm is believing that what is written in books is based on reality. Who can claim not to have acute bovarysm here? Emma Bovary is the story of a young bourgeois French woman in 19th century society. At first, she lives with her father on a farm. A bourgeois farm, nonetheless, with substantial income. Emma lets herself be carried away by life, until the day her father wants to marry her to a man. A country doctor, Charles, who was to become her husband, presented herself to Emma, and she would take the name of "Bovary". Monsieur Bovary is a very ordinary man. He is a doctor, but he is an average, mediocre doctor. He has nothing going for him and seems to be subscribed to the routine. Emma is confined to her home, relegated to her lower rank as a woman. She is bored. She is so bored that she will lose her head in novels, she will read them until she confuses fiction and reality. So, Emma thinks big, she wants a love story with a capital A. She wants to feel passion. Then passes a man in her life who is not so handsome as that, but whom she will judge belligerent, through his literary eyes. He is not that interesting, but he will become the center of Emma's life. She will come out exhausted, spoiled and corrupted from this empty love affair. Drowning in debt, Emma will eventually kill herself - the only episode in her life that will be worthy of a romantic episode. Diabolical irony of the fate.
9. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
Pride and Prejudice is a tale that takes shape in the English countryside of the 19th century. A large family, five daughters of marrying age, a mother who dreams of seeing them all marry a husband to have peace of mind. Jane, the sweetest, most beautiful, and Elizabeth: the one with the most wit, the most culture. Two rich aristocrats who are going to take an interest in these banal, beautiful, and interesting girls. Elizabeth, who is going to misunderstand Mr. Darcy completely out of pride. You know the novel better than I do, my dear English-speaking readers. Nevertheless, it is a book that is still very much appreciated in France. Mainly because we love the love story I think, almost mythical.
Not to mention the sublime adaptation with Keira Knightley (who looks wonderfully well in all the historical films she plays) and Mr. Darcy, the referred to as Matthew Macfadyen.
10. Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo.
So yes, Victor Hugo's Les Misérables will count in this list of Cottagecore books, even though the plot takes place in the Parisian capital for one simple reason: the book tells us about the "little people". You should know that the face of Paris has changed a lot since the 19th century. It was indeed around this time that the famous Haussmann buildings began to surface, built by Baron Haussmann as the name suggests. But in Victor Hugo’s time, there was still the messy Paris, the country Paris, the muddy and earthy Paris. The Paris of the beggars. Those who came up from the countryside as they all did at that time, to find a better quality of life offered by a living wage. They were wrong, for some, but they could not predict it. The extremely unstable political situation in France, with the restoration of the Empire, the Commune, and all these historical events made the people below particularly vulnerable. We can cite Cosette for example, the abandoned little girl in rags who will be adopted by a bad convict converted into a gentleman, Jean Valjean. We can cite Gavroche, the well-known popular child, but also Fantine or Javert, the policeman who will not let Jean Valjean breathe. In any case, this founding novel of French literature is in the same vein as Jane Eyre. He denounces the excesses of his time. He tells us realistically about the country people, the poor, the penniless. If Cottagecore is an escape route, remember that not all country people have the choice to escape their monotonous and difficult lives when given the opportunity. Let us respect them then, and honor them bearing in mind that this is all just a game.