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Classics are books that are as relevant and popular now as in their own era. Have a glance through history when you scroll through our selection of time-tested Classics. You might re-discover a forgotten gem!
One of the best loved stories in children’s literature, The Secret Garden brings nature alive in the story of how Mary Lennox, a lonely, unhappy and spoilt child is transformed by finding her way into a hidden garden. Brought to her Uncle’s house in Yorkshire after the death of her mother, Mary has no friends and no occupation. Used to being waited she is selfish and mean spirited. But when Mary unlocks the door to the garden she not only finds the wonders of nature as the flowers and trees grow and bear fruit but she also finds a friend in Dickon, the kindly gardener’s boy. How Mary, and her wheelchair bound cousin Colin are transformed by the garden remains as magical as when it was first written.
Agatha Christie's most famous murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
With an Introduction, explanatory notes, and annotated bibliography by Nicholas Seager. This collection brings together Jane Austen's earliest experiments in the art of fiction and novels that she left incomplete at the time of her premature death in 1817. Her fragmentary juvenilia show Austen developing her own sense of narrative form whilst parodying popular kinds of fiction of her day. Lady Susan is a wickedly funny epistolary novel about a captivating but unscrupulous widow seeking to snare husbands for her daughter and herself. The Watsons explores themes of family relationships, the marriage market, and attitudes to rank, which became the hallmarks of her major novels. In Sanditon, Austen exercises her acute powers of social observation in the setting of a newly fashionable seaside resort. These novels are here joined by shorter fictions that survive in Austen's manuscripts, including critically acclaimed works like Catharine, Love and Freindship [sic], and The History of England.
Friendship, hospitality and having fun propel the adventures of these four animals as they go about their lives against the watery landscape in this classic tale. Life on the riverbank with close-friends Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger is mostly peaceful. There is lots of entertaining as well as a great deal of just messing about on the river. Just occasionally the peace is shattered, as when Toad gets behind the wheel of his car and speeds around the countryside letting rip with the horn or, more seriously, by brief attempts to defeat the weasels and stoats in the Wild Wood.
January 2014 Guest Editor Jodi Picoult on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott. Fitzgerald, for its unreliable narrator. I love this book because it's the gold standard for unreliable narrators. Nick Carraway tells us the story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy; he tells us he isn't going to pass judgment on the characters, but he manages to overlook things, like Gatsby's bootlegging trade and Daisy's husband’s infidelity. The result is that the character of Gatsby remains a mystery long after you've finished the book. The Lovereading view... Regarded as Fitzgerald's masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Great Gatsby is a vivid chronicle of the excesses and decadence of the Jazz Age, as well as a timeless cautionary critique of the American dream. Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opened the 66th Cannes Film Festival. A 'Piece of Passion' from Alessandro Gallenzi on the Alma Classics editions...'F. Scott Fitzgerald has been long a favourite of mine. Since I discovered The Great Gatsby at university, I have been avidly reading all of his work. I am particularly fond of some of his short stories, from ‘The Rich Boy’ (in All the Sad Young Men) to ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’ and ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ (in Tales of the Jazz Age). I have poured all my passion and love for Fitzgerald’s work into these stylish editions, with front-cover illustrations by Art-Deco genius Georges Barbier, flaps, pictures and a wealth of extra material. These books are a publisher’s and a fan’s tribute to one of the greatest masters of world literature.' A survey recently named The Great Gatsby as one of the greatest fictional playboys of all time … click to find out more
Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac was a French dramatist and duelist from the seventeenth century. In fictional works about his life he is featured with an overly large nose, which people would travel from miles around to see. This work is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play is a fictionalization of his life that follows the broad outlines of it in five acts. The entire play is written in verse, in rhyming couplets of 12 syllables per line, very close to the Alexandrine format, but the verses sometimes lack a caesura. It is also meticulously researched, down to the names of the members of the Academie francaise and the dames precieuses glimpsed before the performance in the first scene. The play has been translated and performed many times, and is responsible for introducing the word "panache" into the English language. Cyrano is in fact famed for his panache, and the play ends with him saying "My panache." just before his death.
First published in 1748, "Clarissa" is the long and tragic tale of the ever-virtuous Miss Clarissa Harlowe. Though her family, newly wealthy, wishes to enter the aristocracy, they can only do so by marrying Clarissa to an unrefined and loveless man. She is soon offered protection from the selfish motives of her family by Robert Lovelace, who tricks Clarissa into running away with him. Though witty and urbane, Lovelace soon proves himself a villainous rake, eager to strike out at the Harlowes by making sexual advances on their highly moral daughter. Clarissa repeatedly refuses the vague offers of marriage Lovelace gives her, deceiving herself by denying her physical attraction to him, yet holding true to her belief in virtue, even as she grows increasingly ill from the stress of her situation. A masterful epistolary novel, "Clarissa" is a tragic heroine who remains true to her quest for virtue to the very end. Contained in this book is the first of two volumes.
One of Anne Michaels' favourite books. 'Why does Tess continue to move us?...One is Hardy's relentless compassion. His characters are deeply human…and there is Tess herself, her lack of self-pity, her humility, her heorism…And of course, it is Hardy's writing, gloriously physical, full of passion and irony, humour and tenderness.' You can read Anne Michaels' full Introduction to Tess of the D'Urbervilles in this Orange Inheritance edition published by Vintage.
March 2012 Guest Editor Alan Bradley on Evelyn Waugh... Charles Ryder, a lonely student at Oxford, is captivated by the outrageous and exquisitely beautiful Sebastian Flyte. Invited to Brideshead, Sebastian's magnificent family home, Charles welcomes the attentions of its eccentric, aristocratic inhabitants. But he also discovers a world which threatens to destroy his beloved Sebastian. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 3 February 2011. I just love this man’s writing. The 17-year old, razor happy gang leader, Pinkie, is one of fiction’s great characters, truly nasty. Despite the dated period, the underlying message is the same today as it ever was. It is perhaps Greene’s greatest book.
One of the most beautiful tales of friendship I have ever read, Kim is often described as Kipling’s love letter to India. At its centre is Kim, a young white boy, an orphan, and his friend and mentor the Tibetan Lama who takes Kim from the streets of Lahore to be educated at a public school in England and on to adventures. Set in an imperialistic world; a world strikingly masculine, dominated by travel, trade and adventure, a world in which there is no question of the division between white and non-white. The book is a celebration of their friendship in a beautiful but often hostile environment and Kim captures the opulence of India's exotic landscape, overlaid by the uneasy presence of the British Raj. This book is just unforgettable. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Set in Lawrence’s native Nottinghamshire, Sons and Lovers is a highly autobiographical and compelling portrayal of childhood, adolescence and the clash of generations. The marriage of Gertrude and Walter Morel has become a battleground. Repelled by her vulgar, choleric and sometimes violent drinker of a husband, delicate Gertrude devotes her life to her children, especially to her sons, William and Paul - determined they will not follow their father down the coal mines. Conflict is evitable when Paul seeks to escape his mother's suffocating grasp through relationships with women his own age but he is so emotionally bound to his mother that he has a difficult time of it. As Philip Larkin is reported to have written, aged 19 “I have been reading ‘Sons and Lovers’ and feel ready to die. If Lawrence had been killed after writing that book he’d still be England’s greatest novelist.” This book will rekindle your love for classic literature or ignite it for the first time if it hasn’t developed yet. It’s a beautifully tender and engrossing portrayal of familial love, sexual love and romantic love and all of their complexities. I adore it. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
From Aristotle to Aphra Benn to Jane Austen, and Socrates to Stendhal to Upton Sinclair our classics genre will point you in the direction of all the great classics from the beginnings of literature right up to the essential 20th-century classics such as Animal Farm.
The privileged classes (Henry James) and life on the poverty line (Zola)... History (Robert Graves) and prophesy (George Orwell)... Romance (Emily Bronte) and ribaldry (Henry Fielding)... Generations lost (Ernest Hemingway) and encapsulated (F. Scott Fitzgerald)... Writers ahead of their time (James Joyce) and right on the pulse of it (Jack Kerouac)...
There’s so much out there to discover, but it can be daunting without guidance.