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This is where you will find stunning books from literary masters past and present. Literary fiction doesn’t just mean good or valued, as brilliant writing can be found in any genre. These are serious stories with high artistic qualities that strike at the heart of what it is to be human.
This is Helen Dunmore’s first novel and although some of her later novels have been more widely read and more obvious commercial bestsellers, this one is an outstanding piece of writing that will truly stand the test of time. During World War I, D.H. Lawrence and his wife moved to Cornwall where they became the subject of intense suspicion from the locals and this forms the inspiration for the novel centering on Clare, a young girl who comes under the influence of the Lawrences. Dunmore is superb at evoking characters from the past and yet making you feel relaxed in their company and the situations these characters are found in are captured perfectly as well.
One of Carol Drinkwater's favourite books. May 2011 Guest Editor Carol Drinkwater on The House of the Spirits... Since discovering this book, I have bought every Allende, but for me this remains her finest. It recounts the horrors of living under Pinochet’s regime in Chile. At the heart is a family’s story. Allende paints a world that is magical, epic, heartrending, harrowing. A masterpiece. The Lovereading view... Spanning four generations, Isabel Allende's family saga is populated by an often eccentric cast of characters. Together, men and women, spirits, the forces of nature and of history, converge in a brlliantly realised novel.
Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize. An involving and interesting tale set in 1919 about a World War One veteran, Brendan Archer, who travels to Ireland to find the girl he rashly got engaged to three years earlier. When love appears to have been lost Brendan finds himself drawn in to the world of the Palm Court hotel just as Ireland faces it’s most dramatic political upheaval. A book of humour, pathos and politics. Totally absorbing and unputdownable.
Like Water For Chocolate tells the captivating story of the De la Garza family. As the youngest daughter, Tita is forbidden by Mexican tradition to marry. Instead, she pours all of her emotions into her delicious recipes, which she shares with readers along the way. When Tita falls in love with Pedro, he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. Unfortunately, he's married to her sister... Filled with recipes, magical realism and bittersweet humour, this charming story of one family's life in turn-of-the-century Mexico has captivated readers all over the world and was made into an award-winning film.
The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. He is born into a world of poverty, ignorance and injustice, but Azaro awakens with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro's loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus's story. Despite belonging to a spirit world made of enchantment, where there is no suffering, Azaro chooses to stay in the land of the Living: to feel it, endure it, know it and love it. This is his story.
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.
'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.
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
I first saw the musical, then read the book, and let me just put this out there, Les Miserables is long, and even with a relatively simple plot, not a particularly easy read. Having said that, I am glad that I read it, but am going to whisper this... I prefer the musical (and now I’m ducking). 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.
May 2014 Guest Editor Daisy Goodwin on The Palliser Series... Dickens is the prose stylist, but Trollope is the psychologist. His characterisation is subtle and surprising and he is particularly good at creating convincing female characters. I love Lady Glencora in the Palliser series, she is the embodiment of what today we would call ‘soft power’. I have written two novels set in the nineteenth century and I read Trollope continually as a language barometer.