Given that I don't have much luck with books by Brittish / American authors from the 18th and 19th centuries, "The picture of Dorian Gray" was a pleasant surprise. It is a well written, occasionally funny, sometimes deeply thoughtful, and overall a good novel.

Dorian Gray is a young Londoner in the end of the 19th century. After seeing a very beautiful paining his artist friend has done of him, and being deeply impressed by it, Dorian "makes a pact with the devil", selling his soul for the opportunity to stay young forever. And as the novel continues, Dorian becomes more and more wicked, while impressions of his age and behavior are left on the portrait instead of himself. Though such mystical turns of events are usually not to my liking in novels, Oscar Wilde managed to pull it off gracefully, and the whole concept raises interesting moral questions. There is also apt criticism in the book, mostly focusing on the superficial "high society" of London, where people spend their days doing absolutely nothing, and try to get in trouble on purpose just to spice up their lives.