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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.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.This book provokes strong reactions – some dislike the huge number of characters and ambiguous narrative. I loved it – for the wonderful characters, fresh language and sensitive feel. This quirky, powerful story may divide your group. Several narratives develop simultaneously and alternately, several characters develop and intertwine and several ages are evoked all of which add up to a complex and successful interweaving of lives and stories. Elderly Leo sits alone and isolated in his New York flat. He has lost all his family and friends. He is terrified of the strong possibility of dying alone, which prompts him to write out his details and planned funerary arrangements on a scrap of paper, to be carried at all times. Apart from occasional visits from equally elderly Bruno, who he contacts via tapping on the hot water pipes in the apartment block, or trips to a life drawing class to pose as a nude model, Leo is utterly alone. The solitude allows him to assess his life and the hand fate has dealt him and his tale of love, loss and survival is both unique and, I suspect, similar to many others of those who fled the Holocaust. Leo is a heartbreaking mix of pride, bravery, humour and pathos. As the daughter of a very elderly father, I felt both sadness and wonder at Leo’s struggles - the small significances, small details of a good man’s life and the tiny imprint he makes on this world.But this is only one narrative in The History of Love. Elsewhere in the novel, an obscure and fascinating book, also called ‘The History of Love’ is being translated by teenage Alma’s bereaved mother and the whole nature of creative writing is assessed in detail. Krauss’s novel has evoked passionate responses, including criticisms of the baffling narrative and ambitious cast. For me, this did not detract from the dazzling characterization and sheer range of people conjured up. Alma’s young brother Bird is a wonderful creation. Krauss’s superb writing both amazed and moved me and personally I would like to take Leo home, listen to his stories and cook him supper…but that’s another story.Sarah Broadhurst's view...Reviewed on Richard and Judy on 18 January 2006. This is the sort of book you will either love or hate, reactions can be pretty strong. Interestingly a girl at Penguin broke off her longstanding relationship once she had read it, so convinced was she by Nicole’s illustration of love. She knew her’s didn’t match the feelings she had just experienced in words, words that transmitted such truth to her heart. It says quite a lot about a book for it to have that sort of power. This is heartbreaking stuff.Comparison: Annie Proulx, Paul Auster, Michael Cunningham.
'Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.' In a small town in 1950s Ireland a fifteen-year-old boy has illicit meetings with a thirty-five-year-old woman - in the back of her car on sunny mornings, and in a rundown cottage in the country on rain-soaked afternoons. Unsure why she has chosen him, he becomes obsessed and tormented by this first love. Half a century later, actor Alexander Cleave - grieving for the recent loss of his daughter - recalls these trysts, trying to make sense of the boy he was and of the needs and frailties of the human heart.
Spring, 1914. The students at the Slade School of Art gather in Henry Tonks' studio for his life-drawing class. But for Paul Tarrant the class is troubling, underscoring his own uncertainty about making a mark on the world. When war breaks out and the army won't take Paul, he enlists in the Belgian Red Cross just as he and fellow student Elinor Brooke admit their feelings for one another. Amidst the devastation in Ypres, Paul comes to see the world anew - but have his experiences changed him completely?
'What we were after was lashings of ultraviolence'. In this nightmare vision of youth in revolt, fifteen-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the State tries to reform him - but at what cost? Social prophecy? Black comedy? Study of freewill? A Clockwork Orange is all of these. It is also a dazzling experiment in language, as Burgess creates a new language - 'nadsat', the teenage slang of a not-too-distant future.
When Marlowe next encounters Lavery, he's denying nothing - on account of the two bullet holes in his heart. Now Marlowe's on the trail of a killer, who leads him out of smoggy LA all the way to a murky mountain lake ...
Allie Fox is going to re-create the world. Abominating the cops, crooks, junkies and scavengers of modern America, he abandons civilisation and takes the family to live in the Honduran jungle. There his tortured, messianic genius keeps them alive, his hoarse tirades harrying them through a diseased and dirty Eden towards unimaginable darkness.
Esther Freud's best-known novel, which inspired the Kate Winslet film, published as Penguin Essential for the first time.
The History of Love explores the lasting power of the written word and the lasting power of love. The book was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006 and was the winner of the 2006 Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. Published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent - even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. Nineteen Eight-Four is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.
But Claudia's life is entwined with others and she must allow those who knew her, loved her, the chance to speak, to put across their point of view. There is Gordon, brother and adversary; Jasper, her untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool conventional daughter; and then there is Tom, her one great love, found and lost in wartime Egypt.
'In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten today, it is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of scent ...
In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences is considered by many to be the first work of the true crime genre. In this groundbreaking book, Truman Capote reconstructs the murder of the Clutter family from information provided by newspaper articles and interviews. 'Dick became convinced that Perry was that rarity, a natural killer - absolutely sane, but conscienceless, and capable of dealing, with or without motive, the coldest-blooded deathblows' On 15 November 1959, the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, a wealthy farmer, his wife and their two young children were found brutally murdered. Blood all over the walls, the telephone lines cut, and only a few dollars stolen. Heading up the investigation is Agent Al Dewey, but all he has are two footprints, four bodies, and a whole lot of questions. Truman Capote's detailed reconstruction of the events and consequences of that fateful night, In Cold Blood is a chilling, gripping mix of journalistic skill and imaginative power. 'The American dream turning into the American nightmare. A remarkable book' Spectator 'One of the most stupendous books of the decade' Sunday Express Truman Capote was one of the most significant American authors of the twentieth century, known for his highly acclaimed books, including: Breakfast at Tiffany's, A Tree of Night and Other Stories and The Grass Harp. In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's have been selected for the Penguin Essentials series of books considered some of the twentieth century's most important reads.
We are very sorry but we have yet to review this book ourselves. However, as was selected for the Man Booker 2005 long list, we wanted to give you the opportunity to download an extract and let you make up your own mind.