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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!
Full to the brim with ready wit and arch social commentary, this amusing and intelligent book is as relevant today as it was when published nearly 200 years ago. If you haven't previously read any of Austen’s works, this is the perfect place to start, it’s one of her lesser known but more stimulating and provocative novels. Quite literally a book of two halves, we have a story of a young woman learning the difference between reality and fantasy and then a consummate commentary from the author on the literary world at the time. Austen introduces an almost anti-heroine, a kind, caring but not particularly captivating Catherine, then surrounds her with four fascinatingly different characters who range from compassionate, intelligent and gracious to self obsessed, mercenary and petulant. As well as the engaging story, you also discover an author who appears to be somewhat on the warpath. She actually talks to you from the page, her views are so clear, you could be having a face-to-face discussion with her. If you already know Northanger Abbey, reacquaint yourself with this fascinating novel. This actual edition is charming, a perfect size for the hand bag and one to treasure.
Even if you have seen the numerous films and TV adaptations there is nothing quite as good as reading the original book about the Dashwood sisters and the complications and misunderstandings that take place in their love lives. A true classic, a clever, wonderful, romantic read. April 2010 Guest Editor Katharine McMahon on Jane Austen... I can't not choose her. And whichever I've read last is always my favourite. The nuance of emotion, the understanding of human nature revealed by Austen constantly delights me. When I reread Sense and Sensibility recently, for the first time Elinor came across as quite prissy and destined to marry a rather spineless husband. I wonder if that was intended?
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.
The movie of Brighton Rock opens on 4 February 2011. See a trailer below. A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing Ida Arnold, who is determined to avenge a death.
Orphaned Jane Eyre grows up in the home of her heartless aunt and later attends a charity school with a harsh regime, enduring loneliness and cruelty. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane's natural independence and spirit - which prove necessary when she finds a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. However, when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving the man she loves? A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre (1847) dazzled and shocked readers with its passionate depiction of a woman's search for equality and freedom.
Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.
A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor – these form a series of events that change the orphaned Pip’s life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. Dickens’s haunting late novel depicts Pip’s education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his ‘great expectations’.
Moby Dick is the tale of one man's fatal obsession and his willingness to sacrifice his life and that of his crew to achieve his goal. The story follows the fortunes of Captain Ahab and the eccentric crew of a whaling ship, The Pequod. The ship is on its last voyage in pursuit of Moby Dick - the great white whale which wounded Ahab in the past is his quarry now. The battle with the elements, the sea, the dangerous confrontations of the whale hunts are embodied in the thrilling narration of the survivor Ishmael.
When Mrs Dashwood is forced by an avaricious daughter-in-law to leave the family home in Sussex, she takes her three daughters to live in a modest cottage in Devon. For Elinor, the eldest daughter, the move means a painful separation from the man she loves, but her sister Marianne finds in Devon the romance and excitement which she longs for. The contrasting fortunes and temperaments of the two girls, as they struggle to cope in their different ways with the cruel events which fate has in store for them, are portrayed by Jane Austen with her usual irony, humour and profound sensitivity.
Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach...Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.