I often choose consciously to read literature from late C19 and early C20 precisely because of its slower pace, larger vocabulary, more formal and rigorous grammar and style, and its confident assumption of a broader literacy (allusions, jokes, etc). It's a pleasure to settle down for a bit with Austen, Dickens, Hardy, Trollope, Conan Doyle... storytelling that takes its time.
Modern novelists are far too often (consciously or not) writing a movie instead of a novel, perhaps because movies have shaped their narrative form from childhood ... or perhaps in hope of being chosen for production on TV or big screen! This cinematographic style is entertaining to be sure, and I indulge in it more than a little; but it's also glib, impatient, and often shallow, relying more on exciting plot developments and strong visuals than on depth of character or elegance of style. It's fast food instead of 4-star fare.
For me personally, the golden age of English prose style is from about 1850 to 1950, with some authors continuing the grand tradition into late C20 and even C21. Much earlier, and the historical gap between reader and author becomes a bit awkward, the Quaintness Factor begins to interfere; much later, and the American and movie influence begins to take over. Other readers will doubtless disagree, but this is what I read for chewy goodness and lasting pleasure.
This is prose that makes you sit down and slow down; you can't absorb it properly in 15 minute nibbles in a busy, noisy environment. It calls for quiet, relaxation, focus, and perhaps a nice cuppa.