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Welcome to the present, here we have some fabulous reads set in the modern era. From provocative to beautiful, open your heart and mind and discover strong, believable stories that hammer at your awareness and cause thoughts to hesitate, develop, and flow.
NOW CELEBRATING ITS 75th ANNIVERSARY Betty Smith's debut novel is universally regarded as a modern classic. The sprawling tale of an immigrant family in early 20th-century Brooklyn, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of the great distinctively American novels. The Nolan family are first-generation immigrants to the United States. Originating in Ireland and Austria, their life in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn is poor and deprived, but their sacrifices make it possible for their children to grow up in a land of boundless opportunity. Francie Nolan is the eldest daughter of the family. Alert, imaginative and resourceful, her journey through the first years of a century of profound change is difficult - and transformative. But amid the poverty and suffering among the poor of Brooklyn, there is hope, and the prospect of a brighter future.
In the summer of 1959 Nora Silk moves into a quiet suburb on Long Island with her two, young sons, a collection of Elvis records and a marked absence of husband. Her glamour and cheerfully chaotic ways immediately arouse the suspicions of the neighbourhood where life runs according to two rules - 'mind your own business and keep up your lawn'. Seventh Heaven is a lyrical, optimistic novel of yearning and desire, 'this writer can cut through to the true magic and true grit beneath' (Financial Times).
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFÉ is the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women—of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present—for Evelyn and for us—will never quite be the same.
Shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize. A touching, intimate novel about a family on the verge of breakdown after the expulsion of the son from school and the subsequent events. Nina Bawden creates in depth characters and relationships and handles her material with tenderness and compassion. very moving read.
‘She is a master of her material, a writer in whom great talent abides’ Vanity Fair 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.
'If you care about something you have to protect it. If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.' Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't believe in accidents; he believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is both extraordinary and terrifying.
This is Doris Lessing’s first novel published in 1950 and is still as powerful today as it was then. As interesting and stunning a read as it was then and surprising how relevant it still is today. A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... This is Nobel Prize-winning Lessing’s first novel, brought with her as a manuscript in a suitcase when she moved to England from Africa in 1950. Set in Rhodesia, it tells the story of Dick Turner, a failed white farmer, and his wife, Mary, a town girl who hates the bush. Trapped by poverty, sapped by the heat of their tiny brick and iron house, Mary, lonely and frightened, turns to Moses, the black cook, for kindness and understanding. An incredible evocation of Africa’s majestic beauty, a haunting portrait of lives in confusion and a disturbing exploration of the ideology of white supremacy, this is a landmark of twentieth-century literature.
One of John Boyne's favourite books. Following Homer Wells as he grows up in an orphanage and finds himself learning the skills of cider making. Another gem from the pen of one the quirkiest and heartfelt authors of our time. May 2010 Guest Editor John Boyne on John Irving... My favourite contemporary novelist. When I read The Cider House Rules at the age of 16, I became absolutely convinced that I wanted to be a writer. Irving combines humour and tragedy with an extraordinary ambition to recreate decades of a character’s life in each of his books.
This is an extraordinary book, funny, surreal and, at times, heartbreakingly sad. It’s long, some 600 pages, and truly compulsive. Even if at times you are not sure quite what is happening, it has you spellbound. It’s about fatherhood, writing, fear and life, with some truly memorable characters. A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... ‘This is an extraordinary novel from one of the greatest contemporary American authors. Perhaps the best known and most loved of Irving’s books, and rightly hailed as a modern classic, The World According to Garp is an utterly captivating, thought-provoking masterpiece with the most wonderful characters you will ever meet.' Emma Buckley, Assistant Editor at Transworld
Uncle Tom’s Cabin was first serialised in an anti-slavery periodocial. By popular demand Harriet Beacher Stowe released it as a novel and it almost immediately sold out. The book describes the journey Uncle Tom takes from being a slave on a Kentucky farm takes to his death on the orders of the vicious plantation owner Simon Legree. His humanity, dignity and Christian faith shines through even in the worst adversity. The novel had a profound effect on attitudes to slavery and was cited by Abraham Lincoln as a strong motivation for the Amercian Civil War. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Although set in the mid 1960’s this is still a relevant book about marriage and relationships and explores the characters in a depth. July 2010 Guest Editor Louise Candlish on Margaret Atwood... I read Atwood’s first novel some time after the later biggies like Alias Grace and was not surprised to find she was masterly right out of the blocks. Though the heroine Marian’s journey is an anguished one, there are also flashes of wonderful absurdist humour. If this were published today it would probably be called ‘chick noir’. 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.
Two cousins, Toby and Cat(riona), are annoyed when Miranda, a London cousin, arrives at their island in Scotland for the summer. After preliminary snarls, the three become involved in a mysterious puzzle with occult overtones. Carrigona, the island, is a seal-nursery; the seals are connected to St. Culzean and their ancestors, especially Malise and his granddaughter Lucy. Lucy's portrait, with its piercing eyes, provokes the teens; Miranda's singing (during which her hands look strangely like Lucy's) unsettles the seals -- they leave the island for the first time in centuries. A young pup remains, wounded, and he becomes a household pet, diverting the teens to more earthy pursuits. But there is a serious threat for the seals -- they've moved to an unfriendly island -- which adds some suspense. Eventually the seals return, but only after Miranda turns against her country cousins and looks for adventure elsewhere.