30+ Reimagined Classics - Novel Reworkings of Classic Novels That Offer Fresh Takes on Timeless Tales.

With deep-rooted, elemental appeal, myths, legends, folk and fairy tales have long been reinterpreted and riffed on by pretty much every kind of artist - novelists, playwrights, poets, filmmakers, choreographers, visual artists. These stories possess an almost uncanny power to harness interest, stir heart and soul, and resonate through the centuries. While creatives have been adapting, updating and reinterpreting these kinds of stories for centuries, it’s only (fairly) recently that writers have turned their attention to reimagining classic novels - understandable given that the novel is a pretty recent form in the grand scheme of literary history. One way to look at them is as a bibliophile’s version of “is the film better than the book?” debates, with many reworkings offering a mix of “will it be better than the original?” intrigue along with thought-provoking takes on familiar tales, contexts and characters.

A personal favourite is Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, a crisply powerful reinterpretation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, which has sparked several fabulous reinterpretations, from the smart, varied short stories collected in Reader, I Married Him, to Jasper Fforde’s wildly inventive The Eyre Affair, to Catherine Lowell’s light and witty The Madwoman Upstairs

Jane Austen is another writer whose novels have sparked a cluster of retellings, notably through Borough Press’ Jane Austen Project, which presents Joanne Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility, Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey, Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma, and Eligible (Pride and Prejudice) by Curtis Sittenfeld. Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last offers another inventive interpretation of Pride and Prejudice - it’s a modern Muslim riff on the classic that sings with contemporary relevance and feel-good funniness.

Another of our favourite recent reworkings is Gill Darling’s Erringby, which was described by our reviewer Liz Robinson as “a vivid, provocative, and beautifully articulate reimagining of Great Expectations” (head here for our reading group questions about this stunner). Then there’s Frankissstein, a fine example of Jeanette Winterson’s ahead-of-her-time ingeniousness that explores sex, gender, artificial intelligence and what it means to be human with comic brilliance. It takes in Brexit and bigotry, too - quite a feat.

For younger readers (and adult readers who love rollicking adventures with depth), Michael Morpurgo’s Boy Giant revisits Gulliver’s Travels to present a prescient, poignant, thought-provoking story about the experiences of a young Afghan refugee. Moby Dick has also spawned a couple of incredible reinterpretations by writers for young adults - And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness is a dazzling, fable-infused reinvention of Herman Melville’s classic, while Kit de Waal’s Becoming Dinah is a tremendous contemporary treasure that transforms Moby Dick into a compelling coming-of-age camper-van road-trip. 

Read on to discover all manner of re-imaginings of classics you already love (and perhaps a few you’ve always intended to read), and head here to explore all our curated Collections, including one devoted to retellings of Greek myths.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys, Andrea Ashworth Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/10/2016

Inspired by Charlotte Bronte, Jean Rhys turns one of her stories on its head and creates an absolute masterpiece in her sublimely crisp reimaging of Jane Eyre. Through making Bertha, the "madwoman in the attic", her narrator, Rhys makes and powerful statement about agency, and who gets to have their story told.    Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys' brief, beautiful masterpiece. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Reader, I Married Him

Reader, I Married Him

Author: Tracy Chevalier Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/04/2017

The twenty-one stories in Reader, I Married Him - one of the most celebrated lines in fiction - are inspired by Jane Eyre and shaped by its perennially fascinating themes of love, compromise and self-determination. A bohemian wedding party takes an unexpected turn for the bride and her daughter; a family trip to a Texan waterpark prompts a life-changing decision; Grace Poole defends Bertha Mason and calls the general opinion of Jane Eyre into question. Mr Rochester reveals a long-kept secret in Reader, She Married Me , and The Mirror boldly imagines Jane's married life after the novel ends. A new mother encounters an old lover after her daily swim and inexplicably lies to him, and a fitness instructor teaches teenage boys how to handle a pit bull terrier by telling them Jane Eyre's story.

eBooks of the Month
The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair

Author: Jasper Fforde Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/07/2001

A 2013 World Book Night selection. There is another 1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where the Crimean war still rages, dodos are regenerated in home-cloning kits and everyone is deeply disappointed by the ending of 'Jane Eyre'. In this world there are no jet-liners or computers, but there are policemen who can travel across time, a Welsh republic, a great interest in all things literary - and a woman called Thursday Next.

eBooks of the Month
The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Author: Margot Livesey Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/07/2012

The resonant story of a young woman's struggle to take charge of her own future, The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a modern take on a classic story-Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre-that will fascinate readers of the Gothic original and fans of modern literary fiction alike, with its lyrical prose, robust characters, and abundant compassion. Set in early 1960s Scotland, this breakout novel from award-winning author Margot Livesey is a tale of determination and spirit that, like The Three Weissmanns of Westport and A Thousand Acres, spins an unforgettable new story from threads of our shared, still-living literary past. Gemma is real-it's as simple as that. And through her eyes we see step by step what it means ...to take possession of one's own life. -David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Madwoman Upstairs

The Madwoman Upstairs

Author: Catherine Lowell Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/04/2017

'A funny, smart read with a kick-ass heroine' Sun on Sunday. A witty, light-hearted comedy about love and fiction, and the all-important difference between the two. Think you know Charlotte, Emily & Anne? Think again. Samantha Whipple is the last remaining descendent of the illustrious Bronte family, of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre fame. After losing her father, a brilliant author in his own right, it is up to Samantha to piece together the mysterious family inheritance lurking somewhere in her past - yet the only clues she has at her disposal are the Bronte's own novels. With the aid of her handsome but inscrutable Oxford tutor, Samantha must repurpose the tools of literature to unearth an untold family legacy, and in the process, finds herself face to face with what may be literature's greatest secret.

On Beauty

On Beauty

Author: Zadie Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/07/2006

  Shortlisted for the Best of the Orange Best 2010 by the Orange Prize Youth Panel.   Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. This review is provided by bookgroup.info.Fans of WHITE TEETH  may be a bit disappointed with Zadie Smith’s latest novel. ON BEAUTY  is not such a rollicking good read as her first book but what it lacks in pace it makes up for in characterisation and depth.  The novel lays out its credentials from the first sentence: ‘One may as well begin with Jerome’s emails to his father.’ and goes on to draw much of its narrative from the plot of E M Forster’s HOWARD’S END. Smith’s story revolves, as does Forster’s, around two families who, although from a similar strata of society, have opposing political and moral viewpoints. Set mainly at Wellington, a fictitious Ivy League university, ON BEAUTY explores the rivalry between two art-historians: Howard Belsey – English, inclusive, liberal– and the ultra conservative, Christian, Monty Kipps. Despite being African American, Kipps refers to ‘the coloured man’ and wages a campaign on the campus against affirmative action. Inevitably, the two families get involved and the ensuing tensions provide great potential for high drama as well as comic situations. Some episodes are very funny indeed. Zadie Smith is very good at human relationships, family dynamics specifically, and some of her scenes are painfully convincing. By referring to Howard’s End, the author creates parallels and counterpoints between Edwardian England and the US east coast of the early twenty first century. Although, whereas Forster’s novel ends with the symbolic death of Leonard Blast under a pile of books, Howard’s ‘end’ in ON BEAUTY  is not only a hugely optimistic redemption of his character but an affirmation of the value of love and beauty.This homage to Forster does beg comparison with someone who was a master of economy in his writing. In just a few spare subtle sentences he could illustrate the British class system in all its iniquity and complexity and it makes Smith seem a bit clunky and heavy-handed by contrast. That said, ON BEAUTY  is a very accomplished novel, a good read and provides plenty to consider about love, fidelity, identity and the nature of beauty.The Lovereading view...Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. Set on both sides of the Atlantic, award-winning Zadie Smith's third novel, On Beauty, is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

eBooks of the Month
Eligible

Eligible

Author: Curtis Sittenfeld Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/2017

Can a retelling of ‘Pride and Prejudice' possibly work? Well, this novel proves it can. The Austen Project consists of six contemporary authors, each retelling one of Jane Austen’s novels. Just imagine being paired with Pride and Prejudice, where on earth would you even begin? Well…Curtis Sittenfeld, bestselling author of American Wife, has moved the setting to Cincinnati, has included a reality TV show, sex before marriage and increased the ages of both Elizabeth and Jane to 38 and 40 - gulp! Curtis Sittenfeld has been particularly clever, keeping the essence of the story complete, yet cranking it up to be an eminently readable 21st century relationship story. Mr and Mrs Bennet are an absolute delight (and fright), transferring perfectly and making me both chuckle and cringe, I also have to admit to now seeing Jane Austen’s Elizabeth with new eyes. So, I embraced the changes as I read, stopped analysing and just enjoyed this thoroughly modern tale. The titles in the Austen Project series are: Sense & Sensibility by Joanna TrollopeNorthanger Abbey by Val McDermidEmma by Alexander McCall SmithEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

eBooks of the Month
The Hours

The Hours

Author: David Hare Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2003

The Hours is David Hare's screen adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. In Richmond, England in 1923, Virginia Woolf is setting out to write the first words of her new book. In Los Angeles in 1951, a housewife, Laura Brown, is contemplating suicide. And in present-day New York, a hostess, Clarissa Vaughan, is planning a party for her friends. In extraordinary and ingenious ways, the film shows how a single day - and the novel Mrs Dalloway - inextricably link the lives of three very different women.

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

Author: Joanna Trollope Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2014

Author of 17 bestselling contemporary novels Joanna Trollope has used her skills of astute yet sensitive observation of the ‘human condition’ to reboot Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility from the 18th to 21st Centuries. It’s a fresh, witty and very contemporary story of love in the age of social media yet is totally respectful of the original - what’s not to like. The titles in the Austen Project series are: Sense & Sensibility by Joanna TrollopeNorthanger Abbey by Val McDermidEmma by Alexander McCall SmithEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Sense & Sensibility a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'A truly wonderful re-telling. A perfect indulgent, engaging read.' – Edel Waugh. Scroll down to read more reviews.

eBooks of the Month
Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

Author: Val McDermid Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/09/2014

In Val's trademark style of great storytelling and suspense meet modern day Cat whose world is turned upside down and her innocence lost as she is taken from rural Dorset to experience the bright lights of Edinburgh and the festival. Seamless prose complementing dialogue that's speckled with wit, it is clear that Val McDermid clearly relished the writing of this contemporary and page-turning take on Northanger Abbey. October 2014 Book of the Month. The titles in the Austen Project series are: Sense & Sensibility by Joanna TrollopeNorthanger Abbey by Val McDermidEmma by Alexander McCall SmithEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

eBooks of the Month
Emma

Emma

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2015

Continuing the series of Jane Austen 'reboots', Alexander McCall Smith updates the story of interfering Emma .  She is exactly as she is in the original, giving dinner parties and picnics, attempting matchmaking and generally meddling in other people’s affairs.  It is non-taxing, pleasant, easy reading. ~ Sarah Broadhurst The titles in the Austen Project series are: Sense & Sensibility by Joanna TrollopeNorthanger Abbey by Val McDermidEmma by Alexander McCall SmithEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

eBooks of the Month
Erringby

Erringby

Author: Gill Darling Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/06/2021

Our June 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. Heady, rich and evocative, and while a reimagining of Great Expectations, this debut stands as a unique and startling read in its own right. As a child, orphaned Kit finds the world of his Uncle and Aunt an enticing place to be, as he grows older he discovers that all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold. Gill Darling travels through three decades from the 1970’s, creating the most spelling-binding novel. She doesn’t flinch from the harsher side of life, and while building an enchanting world, exposes vulnerability, selfishness, and excess. The characters feel as real as can be, with a tapestry of traits they ensured my feelings moved through the gamut of emotions. While I knew this was inspired by Great Expectations before I started, I entered and read it as Erringby, completely absorbed and only looking between the two when I had turned the last page. I found growing up with Kit at times disturbing, while at others I relished his adventures, and the ending sent little goose pimples skittering down my arms. When I finish reading I always return to the cover again to see with new eyes, and oh what a gorgeously expressive and clever creation it is! Thoughtful and loving, yet passionate and provocative, Erringby is a truly striking coming-of-age novel and a deserves its place as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
Frankissstein

Frankissstein

Author: Jeanette Winterson Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/05/2019

Darkly playful, Jeanette Winterson’s Frankissstein is an astonishing intertextual re-conjuring of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, melding an interpretation of Shelley’s novel and life with an exploration of what it is to be human, freedom, sex, gender and love. It’s thought-provoking, thrilling, and funny to boot.  Contextualised in - and interspersed with - Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein, we are transported to Memphis where modern-day transgender Dr Ry Shelley attends a robotics expo to “consider how robots will affect our mental and physical health.” Here Ry encounters Ron, the Welsh inventor of a new range of Sexbots he believes will provide a woman to satisfy every male need, from deluxe bots who can hold a conversation (“she waits till you’re finished, of course, no interrupting”), to Germaine, a “70s feminist version with no bra, messy hair and a dildo for anal play”. It’s at the expo that Ry first encounters - and later falls for - Professor Victor Stein, a leader in the field of Artificial Intelligence who has dealings with The Alcor Life Extension Foundation, an Arizona facility that processes dead bodies with the aim of indefinitely extending life. Alongside the love story, and the juxtaposition of Frankenstein with contemporary conversations around A.I., the novel also addresses Brexit, bigotry, racism and English insularity: “The English are serial racists – one group gets accepted, another group becomes the scapegoat”. And back in Shelley’s day, England is described as, "small-minded, smug, self-righteous, unjust, a country that hates the stranger, whether that stranger be a foreigner or an atheist, or a poet, or a thinker, or a radical, or a woman.” Profound, absurd and mischievous, this is an incisive, suggestive romp for our times.

Ayesha at Last

Ayesha at Last

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2019

Forthright, funny Ayesha harbours dreams of being a poet and occasionally performs at a literary lounge, but her ambitions are somewhat hampered by her new teaching job and familial pressure to get married, a pressure that’s intensified by her stunning younger cousin’s countless marriage proposals. But Ayesha is adamant that she doesn’t want an arranged marriage, even if it means she might be doomed to spinsterhood. Then, courtesy of her best friend and a conference at her mosque, a few twists of fate throw Ayesha into contact with hyper-critical, conservative Khalid, who dresses like a time-traveller from several centuries ago and is utterly under his wealthy mother’s control.  Cue much friction, farcical funniness and genuine soul-searching as Ayesha and Khalid embark on complex, intersecting journeys of discovery.  Alongside serving up a sparkling love story, this debut also tackles meaty issues, from the rampant islamophobia of Khaled’s abhorrent boss, to the sexism Ayesha stands up to. Indeed, the criss-crossing sub-plots - both gritty and comic - keep the pages turning, and make this a treat for fans of romance with extra bite.

Debut Books of the Month
NICK

NICK

Author: Michael Farris Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/09/2021

Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this exhilarating imagination of his life before The Great Gatsby. Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s world, he was at the centre of a very different story – one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I. Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed first-hand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance – doomed from the very beginning – to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavour of debauchery and violence. An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, Nick reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.

Star Books
The Deathless Girls

The Deathless Girls

Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/09/2019

Born under a blood moon, twin sister travellers, Kizzy - a brave, voluptuous bear dancer - and Lil - slight in frame and blessed with a beautiful voice – are captured after their camp is ransacked on the eve of their divining, the coming-of-age rite that would have seen them learn their fates. With many kinsfolk slain, the twins are enslaved by Boyar Valcar and set to work in the castle kitchens, where rumours about the notorious Dragon loom large over all the female slaves. Separated when Kizzy is snatched away, Lil escapes to search for her sister with Mira, a fellow slave. As they race against time to save Kizzy, encountering the terrifying strigoi (undead) along the way, powerful desires are awakened, which adds extra conflict as the story winds to its transfixing climax. Driven by the sisters’ passion and revenge, loyalty and love, and powerful on the persecution of travellers, this is a dazzling female-focused reimagining of vampire legends, with the writing infused with a lyrical earthiness throughout.

And the Ocean Was Our Sky

And the Ocean Was Our Sky

Author: Patrick Ness Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/09/2019

At once fierce and otherworldly, this impeccably produced full-colour reinvention of Moby Dick sees multi-award-winning Patrick Ness display a talent for writing that transcends age barriers. It reimagines Moby Dick from the viewpoint of a pod of whales led by Bathsheba who, “like all whales, [I] hated men, and with good reason: their bloody killings, their sloppy, wasteful harvesting proving that they killed as much for sport as for need”. And so fulfilling her grandmother’s prophecy, Bathsheba and her pod live for the hunt. Led by Captain Alexandra they find themselves in pursuit of the notorious Toby Wick, whom no one has seen, but who’s reputed to be “a devil.” As fierce battles are fought and blood is shed, questions are raised about the dangers of power and rumour to create a strange and elemental allegory that’s exquisitely enhanced by Rovina Cai’s arresting full-page illustrations.

Becoming Dinah

Becoming Dinah

Author: Kit de Waal Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/07/2019

This unique, incisive novel is an emotionally engrossing road-trip reinvention of Moby Dick with female characters, and a gripping mystery about what main protagonist Dinah is running from to find her place to call home. Seventeen-year-old Dinah has lived her whole life on a commune and now feels compelled to flee everything she’s ever known. After being home-schooled, a recent period in mainstream schooling has turned her world upside-down, as has turbulent upheavals at home, and then there’s the mystery of what happened between Dinah and new friend Queenie. She shaves off her hair, adopts a new name and flees, illegally driving a VW campervan (her version of Moby Dick’s Pequod ship) with a cantankerous one-legged neighbour for company. While driving, Dinah confronts her many demons, most of which stem from her confusing sense of identity. She’s mixed race, but feels neither black nor white, and she’s attracted to boys and girls. The road is bumpy, with many revelations and confrontations along the way. Eventually, though, Dinah realises that “the road that took you away has led you all the way back home”. This is a smartly-crafted novel with real resonance, a story that honestly and empathetically imparts an uplifting message to “Always be yourself first…find yourself and be yourself”. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Dorian

Dorian

Author: Will Self Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2009

In the summer of 1981, aristocratic, drug-addicted Henry Wooten and Warhol-acolyte Baz Hallward meet Dorian Gray. Dorian is a golden adonis - perfect, pure and (so far) deliciously uncorrupted. The subject of Baz's video installation, Cathode Narcissus, and the object of Henry's attentions, Dorian is launched on a hedonistic binge that spans the '80s and '90s. But as Baz and Henry succumb to the disease du jour, how is it that Dorian, despite all his sexual and narcotic debauchery, remains so unsullied - so vibrantly alive?

We That Are Young

We That Are Young

Author: Preti Taneja Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/08/2017

Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 A darkly mesmerising and fascinating epic of a tale based in India, one that is all-consuming and fiercely beautiful. A family descends into a hellish nightmare when power, greed, and corruption begin to prowl through their lives. After his mother dies, Jivan returns home to his family and arrives to chaos. The first paragraph gently took hold of my thoughts, setting the departing view in my minds eye, setting my feet on the journey to India. I sank quickly and deeply into the page, Preti Taneja allows the words to sing, to explain, to show the world that Jivan is entering. I remained on edge, apprehensive, sometimes having to peek between my fingers as love and hate began a heady, swirling, burning dance, wrapping around one another until they became one. As a retelling of King Lear, it stands resolutely on its on merit and I almost didn’t want to mention the connection. ‘We That Are Young’ shocks, provokes, pushes and pulls at thoughts and feelings, it is also a ravishingly descriptive work of art. Featured in Episode 4 of the LoveReading Podcast

eBooks of the Month
The Court of Miracles

The Court of Miracles

Author: Kester Grant Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Is there such a word as bookstruck? Because that is what I'm feeling right now, The Court of Miracles is a debut, the start of a trilogy, and a stonkingly good read. I believe both (older) young adults and adults will fall for this and I suggest just throwing yourself in and letting go. Find yourself in a reimagined Paris years after the French Revolution has failed with some of the cast of Les Miserables… this is what might have been. As well as cast members (with notable exceptions), there are little references to Les Mis to discover along the way which made me smile but please don’t think of this as being a historical tale as you are opening up a whole new world. I think The Court of Miracles would work without already knowing Eponine, Cosette, Gavroche and friends, as some develop in a completely unexpected way and there are a whole host of new characters to meet. Eponine (Nina) the Black Cat narrates, and after her father sells her beloved sister, she becomes a thief in the criminal underworld of the Court of Miracles. She soon finds herself another sister Cosette (Ettie), but in order to protect, she must betray. Opening up the trilogy in the best possible way The Court of Miracles is an adventurous story stuffed full of revenge, courage, and love. While it felt like a wondrous tale in its own right, there is obviously still much to come. I adored it and this oh so readable novel sits as a Debut of the Month, LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month.

Audiobooks of the Month
Nelly Dean

Nelly Dean

Author: Alison Case Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/02/2016

A wonderful and fascinating insight into hidden happenings at Wuthering Heights, from the perspective of Nelly Dean. Focusing on Nelly, a tantalising new world is opened up for the reader, one that joyfully holds hands with ‘Wuthering Heights’ yet remains a distinctive and beautiful read in its own right. Alison Case has gently and sensitively linked these two novels with a velvet ribbon of empathy and consideration. This story creeps into the background detail; the daily working of life in service and the moors and surroundings are all bought vibrantly to life. Hidden depths are revealed, heartrending secrets are spoken and a new panorama of understanding is offered for discovery. Whether or not you have devoured and loved ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Nelly Dean’ is a clever, enticing and stimulating must read. ~ Liz Robinson One of our Books of the Year 2015.

eBooks of the Month
Penelope's Web

Penelope's Web

Author: Christopher Rush Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/09/2015

Startling, assertive and intense, this is a distinctive and original take on the myth of Odysseus, focusing on reality, creative reality and fabrication. Reading ‘Penelope’s Web’, you quickly realise that the title is entirely appropriate, however make no mistake, this is a book about war, about bloody violence, rape, pillage, death… and it’s about the mental wounds that war inflicts. This is also a book where four-letter expletives and the treatment of women may make you cringe, in fact they should make you cringe. Keep an eye out for the icons heading each section as you start to read, Odysseus, Penelope and the Narrator have very different voices, yet the icons set the tone for the story and your expectations. Odysseus is a soldier, brutal, frank, cunning, able to express the basic animal instincts that cut in during battle, yet he also has a higher awareness of humanity. Penelope weaves gossamer strands of truth, spinning romance, half truths and exaggeration into a tapestry of myth and legend. Occasionally, I found some of the modern day terminology that Odysseus uses, jarred slightly in the storyline, however it served as reminder that war hasn't changed, it still maims and steals mental wellbeing and lives. Christopher Rush has written a tenacious and thought- provoking tale that is so graphically powerful, it feels as though you’re watching a film in the privacy of your own mind. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Ill Will

Ill Will

Author: Michael Stewart Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/03/2018

March 2018 Book of the Month I am William Lee: brute; liar, and graveside thief. But you will know me by another name. A fiery, emphatic and intense glimpse into the missing years of Heathcliff. Leaving Wuthering Heights and naming himself William Lee, Heathcliff travels through the north of England, revenge forming on his mind. If you haven’t read ‘Wuthering Heights’ there is no need to look away, this could be the entrance to that fascinating world. I do feel you need to be aware that obscenities crop up, in fact sometimes litter the pages, and while this may put people off, I would advise looking beyond the surface to what lies beneath. The book opens with anger and deep rooted pain, William’s thoughts flare into being, the searing honesty and heat almost made me flinch. Michael Stewart allows William’s innermost being to spill onto the pages, William is so matter of fact about pain and suffering, about the world around him, the stark reality of the times seared their way onto my soul. And then there are the descriptions, the beautiful, eloquent descriptions of the countryside, the rural life, the old words. While rage, hurt and confusion swirl in a maelstrom of emotion, tenderness, love, and compassion lie waiting, biding their time. Yes ‘Ill Will’ is provocative, it is a disturbing, striking read, yet also strangely beautiful, and personally, I loved it.

eBooks of the Month
Wild Wood

Wild Wood

Author: Jan Needle Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/05/2014

Take a romp through your childhood memories and observe the villains of Wild Wood with new eyes. Mr Toad, Ratty and Mole from 'The Wind in the Willows' are most definitely ‘Haves’ so it’s fascinating to see the story from a different angle, that of the ‘Have Nots’. In this retelling of Kenneth Grahame’s magical story you can almost hear Needle's thought process as he read the original adventures and pondered.. ahhh but, what if! For anyone concerned about a much loved treasure being tarnished, worry not. A delight for adults and children alike, the author successfully ridicules human folly and although Mr Toad is shown up as the selfish, thoughtless, spendaholic that he is, he's actually still as captivating as ever!  Wild Wood is as funny, as relevant and as pleasurable in 2014 as it was on first publication in 1981. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Wake Up, Sir!

Wake Up, Sir!

Author: Jonathan Ames Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/05/2015

A quirky, eccentric reimagining of the brilliant pairing of Jeeves and Wooster from the Jeeves novels of P. G. Wodehouse. It might be a little disconcerting to find the cover of this book is stamped with a number of American reviews stating this novel is "hilarious", can it live up to expectations... well this is certainly a witty and entertaining voyage of discovery. Jeeves is a wonder of self restraint and diplomacy while maintaining a subtle razor-sharp wit. Alan manages to combine nativity and a knowing self awareness along with a habitual fondness for blundering into unfortunate situations. It feels as though the author had fun writing this, the novel occasionally meanders around, darts off in different directions and asks a lot of questions; along with a good ponder over prejudice combined with some frankly slapstick moments, this is a provocative and stimulating read. ~ Liz Robinson   A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'It’s rare, in my experience, to find a book that makes you laugh (and I mean really laugh, out loud), not only when you’re actually reading the book, but also in the days, weeks and months that follow, when a scene or a line somehow surfaces in your memory. It’s rarer still to find a book that does this, and which is littered with moments of genuine poignancy, but that’s what you will find in Wake Up, Sir!, by Jonathan Ames. It is in part an homage to the work of the great P.G. Wodehouse, but it is also much, much more. Fuelled by the same spirit of benevolence and good humour that pervades the great man’s work, Wake Up, Sir! goes far beyond pastiche to places even Wodehouse didn’t.' - Daniel Seton, Commissioning Editor, Pushkin Press

eBooks of the Month
Beauty

Beauty

Author: Sarah Pinborough Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/04/2014

An effortlessly zesty and playful retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with characters from several other fairy tales making a sneaky appearance. In the form of a novella, this is uncomplicated light reading, apart from a saucy and somewhat sinister few pages that add a deliberate jarring note to proceedings. Adding a modern twist to the traditional “and everyone lived happily ever after”, this is a lively and entertaining read.

eBooks of the Month
Solsbury Hill

Solsbury Hill

Author: Fernando Rodríguez Santander Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/09/2017

Regarding his song "Solsbury Hill" (1977), Peter Gabriel has written: "It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get, or what you are for what you might be. It's about letting go. By letting go, you create the space for something new to happen. It's a personal struggle to learn to jump off the diving board." The fundamental meaning of Gabriel's words is to be willing to accept change within oneself; to let go of long-held beliefs, opinions, or perspectives in order to grow beyond them. This is very difficult for most adults to do without a personal revelation of some kind. So, if we take into consideration that the song was a direct result of a moment of meditation of Gabriel on Solsbury Hill, we can infer that the change within the English musician was sudden and not as a result of a gradual transition. Isn't it reasonable to assume then that something significant happened in Peter Gabriel's life while meditating on Solsbury Hill?

The Innocents

The Innocents

Author: Michael Crummey Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/08/2020

Beautiful, brutal and raw - I cannot praise Michael Crummey’s The Innocents highly enough. Set in an inhospitable isolated area of the Newfoundland coast in the nineteenth-century, it’s a remarkable Garden of Eden, Babes in the Wood masterwork in which we witness age-old nature-nurture conflicts ebb and flow as we observe two siblings living on the edge, in every sense. Through their poignant passages to adulthood we see humanity at its most elemental, and we’re compelled to consider what it means to become a human adult Siblings Evered and Ada have survived the loss of their mother and baby sister Martha, though Ada still hears and speaks to Martha. Now their father has died and there’s no one but them to remove his body from their home. No one but each other to ensure they survive. Equipped with very limited knowledge of the world, and facing perilous poverty, the siblings fish and cure their catch, as their father used to, but the catches come either in unmanageable excess, or not at all. They are never far from the ravages of starvation, or wild storms. As time passes, Ada and Evered derive secret knowledge from their bodies, as well as from infrequent interactions with outsiders. Once a year, men come to collect the sibling’s paltry cured fish, dropping off scant supplies as payment. Then there are chance visits from seamen surprised to find them living alone in this precarious way. The siblings assimilate new knowledge from these unexpected visitors – knowledge of brewing, hunting, history and human relationships - who in turn leave indelible marks on Ada and Evered, leaving them changed to the extent that “each in their own way was beginning to doubt their pairing was requisite to what they might want from life.” Inspired by a story the author found in local archives, this is an incredibly haunting novel – the language powerfully pure, the story uniquely thought-provoking.

Star Books
The Lost Child

The Lost Child

Author: Caryl Phillips Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2015

This is a beautifully articulate and poignant novel, at times it maintains a discreet solitary distance from its own moving story, ensuring that as moments of realisation steal into your consciousness and understanding flows into your heart… they stay with you. The author spirals through time, teases history and suggests new beginnings. The story branches three ways, breathtakingly different, remote yet entwined, flowing together and unfurling heartbreaking moments of perception and compassion. The isolation of the characters is shocking, they do not encourage affection or intimacy, their story isn't neat, tidy, clean or explained, you are instead left to observe, to recognise and so find yourself jolted and shaken into awareness, sorrow and regret and yet somehow a fluttering of hope steals across the pages for a story yet untold. ’Wuthering Heights’ and the Bronte family are intrinsically linked to this story, if you haven't yet met Emily, Charlotte and Anne, your journey through ’The Lost Child’ will potentially introduce you to some new companions.   Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Old Friends and New Fancies

Old Friends and New Fancies

Author: Sybil G. Brinton Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/08/2014

Oh my, pick this up and experience a thrill of emotion as here is the first known and one of the best ‘sequels’ to Jane Austen’s novels. First published in 1914, we are re-introduced to characters from all six of Austen’s completed works, however the main focus is Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. Although you don't need to have read all of Austen’s novels, it really does help if you have, as references and characters from them pop up everywhere. The unknown Sybil Brinton has created a fascinating and engaging after world, so suspend the reality of whether or not the characters would have come into contact with each other and just enjoy. Should this work...perhaps not, does this work...yes, quite simply because Austen’s characters are some of the best to ever walk from the page and Brinton keeps their essence intact and complete. ~ Liz Robinson   A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'I was so thrilled to discover Old Friends New Fancies, it felt a bit like discovering as a child that your new favourite author has written more than one book – and that the sequels all lie ahead of you waiting to be discovered…  Like all Austen fans I was just itching to get my teeth sunk into more storylines and while away more hours with my favourite characters. I loved the idea of bringing together heroes and heroines from all of Austen’s books – thus making the scope for matchmaking even wider. It also made me smile that Brinton chose to go down the route of misinforming her readers, a technique in which Austen famously specialised.  Old Friends New Fancies blends the general framework of Emma with the family politics of Pride and Prejudice and the familiar Bath social setting of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I love it!' - Martha Pooley, managing editor of Hesperus Press

eBooks of the Month
Becoming Jo

Becoming Jo

Author: Sophie McKenzie Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2019

Following the four March sisters for a year, and narrated by candid, clumsy Jo, the story begins at a time of great upheaval for the March family. Dad is working away as a humanist minister in war-torn Syria, Mum has recently lost her job as a social worker and, consequently, they’ve had to move house. Sensitive, shy Beth just wants “Daddy to come home”. Fashion mad Meg is frustrated by not being able to buy new clothes, while trying to figure out what to do with her future. Sharp-tongued, artistic Amy constantly bickers with Jo, who’s doggedly determined to become a novelist. Despite their own troubles, the family volunteer at a centre for Middle Eastern refugees on Christmas Day. It’s here Jo meets Lateef, a refugee who’s been adopted by a wealthy lawyer, and she immediately senses that he’s “going to be my best friend in the whole world”. In fact, he becomes close to the entire family as they ride a rollercoaster of worries and coming-of-age revelations alongside a whole lot of love and friendship. Written in a highly accessible style, this affectionate update re-maps the personalities, aspirations and uncertainties of the original March sisters to create a new landscape of their lives, one that’s suffused in the spirit of the original and a contemporary freshness as it explores the timeless themes of sibling strains and solidarity, and feeling a sense of home.

Boy Giant Son of Gulliver

Boy Giant Son of Gulliver

Author: Michael Morpurgo Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2020

This sparkling adventure melds life as a young refugee with literary lore. The warm magic of Omar’s Lilliputian sojourn will captivate young readers, while his experience as a refugee will surely inspire compassion and empathy - deeply vital for our times.   Known as Tiny in his rural village, Omar’s life is overturned when war breaks out and an air strike kills his dad and many friends. When his sister goes missing, Omar and his mum move to a refugee camp. But it’s not long before Mum decides it would be safer to join a group of sea-bound refugees. They walk for a year and reach the coast, but Omar’s mum only has enough money to pay for one passage. So, armed only with the address of his Uncle Said in England, Omar boards the overcrowded boat. When it sinks, he wakes to find himself on an island populated by tiny people.    The warm welcome of the Lilliputians serves as a powerful allegory. They “spoke with their hearts” and make Omar feel like he belongs as he learns their language, their history, their culture. But worried his mum might be waiting for him in England, Omar sets off again, with hope in his heart and special companions aboard his new boat. Shot-through with a powerful message about offering help and hope to those in need, this is classic Morpurgo, with wonderfully warm illustrations by Michael Foreman. Read more about Michael Morpurgo, our LoveReading4Kids Guest Editor for September 2020, here.

Bridget Jones's Diary Picador Classic

Bridget Jones's Diary Picador Classic

Author: Helen Fielding Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/08/2016

With an introduction by Caitlin Moran. A dazzling urban satire of modern relationships? An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family? Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something? Bridget Jones's Diary was first published in 1996 and applauded by critics from Salman Rushdie to Jilly Cooper. A number-one bestseller, Helen Fielding's book has sold over fifteen million copies worldwide and has been turned into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Bridget Jones's Diary is followed by Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy.

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