The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray
This is a collection of weekly columns for Punch, written in 1848. Thackeray takes on the social issues of his day in these satirical pieces, looking at every class of snob. One of my favorite books is Vanity Fair, and I think you could see the themes of skewering the self-important there, too. (Seriously, I heart Becky Sharp.) Some of the references he's making are obviously based on his own day's gossip and news, so an acquaintance with Victorian England would serve a reader well.
No Name by Wilkie Collins
Two young women are suddenly orphaned, disinherited, and driven from their home. Forced to make their way alone, one sister opts for the hardships of a governess' life and the other for revenge - her only weapons her beauty and wits. Collins wrote some of the first-ever detective novels, and I have high hopes for his Victorian revenge novel starring wronged women making tough moral choices. It was considered immoral in its time - but then again, so was holding hands before marriage.
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
This is the account of Robert Falcon Scott's expedition to the South Pole, as told by one of only three men who survived the journey. (The perfect companion to Francis Spufford's I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination.) Cherry-Garrard uses excerpts from his diary to puzzle out the reasons for the failure and joins the search party to recover his companions' bodies.