I'll nominate Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. From Amazon:
Left penniless after his feckless father's death, young Nicholas Nickleby has no choice but to make his own way in the world. For the sake of his mother and sister, he is forced by his hard-hearted uncle to take a post as an assistant master at Dotheboys Hall, a school for unwanted boys, run by the cruel and tyrannical headmaster, Wackford Squeers. But this is only the beginning of Nicholas's adventures in this most entertaining of Charles Dickens's novels. We follow the progress of Nicholas and his slow-witted companion Smike on their travels and encounter a supporting cast of delectable characters including the rambunctious Crummles theatre company and their talented performing pony, the dastardly Sir Mulberry Hawk, the delightful Mrs. Nickleby, the preposterous Kenwings, and many more. Like many of Dickens's novels, Nicholas Nickleby is characterized by his criticism of cruelty and social injustice, but is above all one of the greatest comic masterpieces of nineteenth-century literature.
A nice, long read for the holiday season.