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This is it. The place for the greatest writing: stories that transcend all other ‘genres’. Literary fiction goes above and beyond any specific genre in order to deliver stories that strike at the heart of what it means to be human.
April 2012 Guest Editor Paul Torday on Dance to the Music of Time... This is a cheat, because this work consists of twelve novels. But they plot the lives of a group of characters as they weave in and out of each other’s lives in the period from just before the First World through to the nineteen sixties. For me the earlier ones are the best, describing the remorseless rise of the awful Widmerpool, the passionate romance between the narrator and a friend’s sister (somehow more interesting than his own later marriage) and a host of thinly disguised references to contemporary writers, musicians and artists. Fun working out who is who, and beautifully, beautifully written. One of the books that has really influenced my views on writing.
A short story collection covering a number of topics and relationships, from the funny to bizarre to ordinary. A great collection from a brilliant writer.
November 2012 Guest Editor Kate Mosse on The Women's Room... The subject of forgotten - or hidden – women’s history is important to me as a writer, especially in Citadel. French’s The Women’s Room is one of those novels that most laid bare the reality of how many women lived – their loves and disappointments, expectations and secret language. A terrific story, a rattling good read, it’s also a reminder of how things that matter in life have – sometimes – both to be fought for and protected.
A young girl in the 1950’s leaves her home of the States and sets off to Paris in search of adventure. Firmly turning he back on all things conventional Sally Jay embarks on adventures and a swift education in growing up. A great coming of age book. July 2010 Guest Editor Louise Candlish on Elaine Dundy... This has always been my favourite rite-of-passage book. I much prefer Sally Jay Gorce to Holden Caulfield and the others. She is charm itself. No other book makes me want to time-travel so much, to go to Paris in the ’50s and drift about being frivolous and spontaneous and generally intoxicated by the very idea of love.
Shortlisted for the Best of the Orange Best 2010 by the Orange Prize Youth Panel. Winner of the 1996 Orange Prize for Fiction. This is a marvellous novel about forbidden passions and thwarted love by one of the UK's finest writers. A Spell of Winter won the prestigious Orange Prize and deservedly so given its lyrical writing without a word out of place. You'll also be completely captivated by the skilfully crafted characters and by the love story and eventual redemption.
One of the most admired of all Penelope Fitzgerald's books, The Blue Flower was chosen as Book of the Year more than any other in 1995. Her final book, it confirmed her reputation as one of the finest novelists of the century. A masterpiece. One of Joanna Trollope's favourite books. I had supper with her once, in the converted garage of her daughter’s house, where she was then living, and she was as warm and restrained and acute and beguiling as her books, of which my absolute favourite is The Blue Flower, the story of an extraordinary betrothal in eighteenth century Germany. If anyone needs a pattern of How To Write, Penelope Fitzgerald is IT. Click here to read Penelope Fitzgerald's son-in-law discuss her legacy to coincide with the 100th anniversary of her birth.
July 2012 Guest Editor Barbara Erskine on the Starbridge series... Susan Howatch’s Starbridge series ideally needs to be read in the right order. The Church of England features here, with all the agonising we are becoming used to in real life, but with a deliciously sinister and supernatural edge. The books span a good part of the twentieth century, moving from the cathedral close to the modern city of London. The Starbridge series.1. Glittering Images2. Glamorous Powers3. Ultimate Prizes4. Scandalous Risks5. Mystical Paths6. Absolute Truths
Ex-philosophy teacher Jostein Gaarder & Albert Knos stimulate 15 year old Sophieto ask those fundamental questions which have exercised the imaginations of Children Philosophers since the dawn of civilisation.
May 2011 Guest Editor Carol Drinkwater on The Man Who Planted Trees... When I delivered the manuscript of The Olive Season, I was nervous, questioning the potency of a story that recounted how the planting of trees can overcome loss, grief. That very afternoon, as though in answer to my doubts, I discovered this 46-page masterpiece; a joyous, inspiring hymn to nature, the wondrousness of trees and one man’s humble yet powerful vision.
This collection of stories includes "Sonny's Blues", "The Rockpile" and "Previous Conditions." James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues is about a black family in twentieth-century America, particularly about the un-named narrator and his younger brother Sonny. After time in jail for peddling heroin, Sonny returns to his brother’s home in a housing project in Harlem. Sonny, out of jail and back home with his brother, rediscovers his lifeline, the one thing that makes his life worth living, his music. But his first attempts to play the piano are rocky...
May 2011 Guest Editor Carol Drinkwater on House of Splendid Isolation... Educated at an Irish convent, I was a lonely, frustrated girl who dreamed of escape, of becoming an actress. The early works of Edna O’Brien – her Country Girls trilogy – helped me to understand that my passions, my desire to live, to love were not uncommon. Her later works are magnificent. House of Splendid Isolation is my personal favourite.
July 2011 Guest Editor Alexander McCall Smith on The Towers of Trebizond This is a humorous classic that is largely ignored today but which is still as amusing as it was when it was first published. It has a classic first line, never since equalled.
Literary fiction is a bit of a “catch-all” phrase. Some call it “Serious Fiction” but we prefer to think of it as all of the greatest stories ever told, all in one place. This is where you will find literary classics from literary masters past and present.
Why not have a look at our monthly featured titles for inspiration? Revisit old friends? Discover new ones? Or finally read that book that your friends have been banging on about for ages? Whatever your reasons, settle down with your favourite tipple, unwind and open your mind with the home-spun brilliance of authors like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, David Nicholls and Zadie Smith; or those from further afield: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Ben Okri, Jostein Gaarder and so many more. There are obviously so many to choose from, you could get lost in the Sea of Choices.