As the stunning six-part BBC adaptation of Les Miserables concludes on Sunday night at 9pm on BBC One, we take a look at the book which inspired both the TV series and the much-loved musical, as well as some of our other favourite novels set in Europe. Here, we've curated a list of classic European novels you shouldn't miss.


The Trial

One of the most famous novels to come out of Austria, The Trial is a story of crime and authority - topics both glaringly relevant almost 100 years on. This profound psychological horror has an experimental style, teetering between reality and fantasy throughout. Kafka’s Czech, Jewish, German-speaking heritage left him alienated in the Austro-Hungarian empire, a feeling he reproduces in the reader through uncertainty, leaving us hungry for answers until the very last page.

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Death in Venice

Written in German, set in Italy and influenced by Plato and Nietzsche, Death in Venice follows a character with writer’s block who becomes obsessed with a beautiful boy, resulting in an unlikely love affair which is considered by many to mask the author’s own homosexuality. Mann’s distinctly ironic narrative voice has been transformed into opera, radio, ballet, theatre, and film, and won him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929.

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