No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
'DO NOT OPEN - DESTROY.' The words on the envelope he has found are written in Kath's hand, but Glyn ignores his wife's instruction and breaks the seal. His life unwinds. For he finds a photograph showing Kath holding hands with another man. Unable to forget this long-ago act of betrayal he recklessly excavates the past, seeking out who knew what, tearing apart other lives as he tries to dig up the roots of his wife's infidelity. But what is the truth about Kath? What is the truth about their love? And can it survive this? 'Remarkable' Sunday Telegraph
'A monument to crazy love. Magic' New York Times 'The actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly . . .' In spring 1962 American actress Dee Moray's boat motors into an Italian bay and the life of hotelier Pasquale Tursi. Dee - fleeing a film set, claiming to be dying and desperately awaiting her lover - throws herself on Pasquale's generous mercy. Fifty years later Pasquale lands in Hollywood, sporting a fedora and seeking a long-forgotten actress. Why he's come, what happened to Dee in Italy and, later, LA, are questions that Beautiful Ruins answers in the most surprising and wonderfully entertaining manner. 'Exhilarating. Very, very funny' The Times
'Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.' Alexander Cleave, an actor who thinks his best days are behind him, remembers his first unlikely affair as a teenage boy in a small town in 1950s Ireland: the illicit meetings in a rundown cottage outside town; assignations in the back of his lover's car on sunny mornings and rain-soaked afternoons. And with these early memories comes something sharper and much darker - the more recent recollection of the actor's own daughter's suicide ten years before. Ancient Light is the story of a life rendered brilliantly vivid: the obsession and selfishness of young love and the terrifying shock of grief. It is a dazzling novel, funny, utterly pleasurable and devastatingly moving in the same moment. 'Illuminating, funny, devastating. A meditation of breathtaking beauty and profundity on love and loss and death' Financial Times 'Banville perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence. A luminous, breathtaking work' Independent on Sunday 'Startlingly brilliant. Terrific - full of sadness and yearning' Sunday Telegraph
'Come at once if convenient - if inconvenient come all the same . . .' The note from Sherlock Holmes to Dr Watson cannot be ignored and soon the pair find themselves investigating the curious case of an aged professor whose sudden strange alteration in behaviour terrifies everyone from his daughter and her fiance to the family dog. This and eleven other cases which confound clients or perplex the police are tackled by Holmes and Watson in the final collection of the duo's detecting adventures. 'Time and time again generations have shown that they need Holmes' Stephen Fry
'An exciting writer, sharp and shocking as the knives her characters wield' Sunday Times Like her namesake Jack Kerouac, J.K. is always on the road, travelling Europe with her typewriter in a pillowcase. From J.K.'s irreverent, ironic perspective, Levy charts a new, dizzying, end-of-the-century world of shifting boundaries and displaced peoples. 'Levy is a brilliant writer' Telegraph 'Levy's strength is her originality of thought and expression' Jeanette Winterson
'Are we making a bomb?' 'This is a trust exercise, like in drama,' she says. 'Are we making a bomb as a trust exercise?' Fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate is terrified that his family is falling apart. He fears for his depressed father and is convinced that his mother is having an affair with her capoeira teacher. Deciding that it is down to him alone to save his parents' marriage, Oliver sets out on a campaign to rescue it while also embarking on an even more ambitious goal: to lose his virginity before he's sixteen to the seductive but slightly pyromaniacal Jordana . . . 'The sharpest, funniest, rudest account of a troubled teenager's coming of age since The Catcher in the Rye' Independent 'A brilliant first novel by a young man of ferocious comic talent' The Times
One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor's surgery. 'I need to have an abortion', she announces. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life. Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya's beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya's Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey's turbulent past begin to emerge. 'Wonderfully magical, incredible, breathtaking...will have you gasping with disbelief in the last few pages' Sunday Express 'A beautiful book, the finest I have read about Turkey' Irish Times 'Heartbreaking...the beauty of Islam pervades Shafak's book' Vogue
From the Booker Prize-winning and Women's Prize-shortlisted author of The Silence of the Girls The first novel in Pat Barker's acclaimed 'Life Class' trilogy - an unforgettable story of art and war, from one of our greatest writers on war and the human heart 'Triumphant, inspiring, shattering' The Times 'Barker writes as brilliantly as ever... With great tenderness and insight she conveys a wartime world turned upside down' Independent on Sunday 'Masterly, gripping' Penelope Lively 'Extraordinarily powerful' Sunday Telegraph Spring, 1914. The students at the Slade School of Art gather in Henry Tonks's 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? The Life Class trilogy: Life Class Toby's Room Noonday
'Sometimes I feel that I am destined always to be offstage whenever the main action occurs. That God has made me the victim of some cosmic practical joke, by assigning me little more than a walk-on part in my own life . . .' Coming of age in 1970s' Birmingham, teenager Benjamin Trotter is about to discover the agonies and ecstasies of growing up. Whether it is first love or last rites, IRA bombs or industrial strife, prog versus punk rock, expectations of bad poetry or an unexpected life-changing experience involving lost swimming trunks, The Rotters' Club is a heartfelt and hilarious portrait of a particular time and place featuring characters recognisable the world over . . . 'Very funny, a compulsive and gripping read' The Times 'Hugely entertaining' The Observer 'A book to cherish, a book to reread, a book to buy for all your friends' Independent on Sunday
WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 'Tense, dark and intensely gripping . . . written so seductively that passages sing out from the page ' Sunday Times Cathy and her brother, Rob, don't know why they have been abandoned by their parents. Alone in their grandfather's decaying country house, they roam the wild grounds freely with minds attuned to the rural wilderness. Lost in their own private world, they seek and find new lines to cross. But as the First World War draws closer, crimes both big and small threaten the delicate refuge they have built. Cathy will do anything to protect their dark Eden from anyone, or anything, that threatens to destroy it. 'An electrifying and original talent, a writer whose style is characterized by a lyrical, dreamy intensity' Guardian 'Stops you in your tracks with the beauty of its writing' Observer 'Has a strong and sensuous magic' The Times 'Her spellbinding, lyrical prose is close to poetry' Daily Mail
'WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT!' It is many years since God sent the Tribulation to punish the forebears for their sins, and in the rural settlement of Waknuk David Strorm's father decries any and all blasphemies against nature. Little does he realise that David and his cousin Rosalind, have their own secret aberration which would label them as mutants. But as they grow older it becomes more difficult to conceal their differences from the village elders. Soon they face a choice: wait for eventual discovery, or flee to the terrifying and mutable Badlands. . . 'An outstanding success' New York Times
Austerlitz is W. G. Sebald's haunting novel of post-war Europe. In 1939, five-year-old Jacques Austerlitz is sent to England on a Kindertransport and placed with foster parents. This childless couple promptly erase from the boy all knowledge of his identity and he grows up ignorant of his past. Later in life, after a career as an architectural historian, Austerlitz - having avoided all clues that might point to his origin - finds the past returning to haunt him and he is forced to explore what happened fifty years before. Austerlitz is W.G. Sebald's melancholic masterpiece. 'Mesmeric, haunting and heartbreakingly tragic. Simply no other writer is writing or thinking on the same level as Sebald' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times 'Greatness in literature is still possible' John Banville, Irish Times, Books of the Year 'A work of obvious genius' Literary Review 'A fusion of the mystical and the solid ... His art is a form of justice - there can be, I think, no higher aim' Evening Standard 'Spellbindingly accomplished; a work of art' The Times Literary Supplement 'I have never read a book that provides such a powerful account of the devastation wrought by the dispersal of the Jews from Prague and their treatment by the Nazis' Observer 'A great book by a great writer' Boyd Tonkin, Independent W . G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgau, Germany, in 1944 and died in December 2001. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland and Manchester. In 1996 he took up a position as an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester and settled permanently in England in 1970. He was Professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia and is the author of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, Austerlitz, After Nature, On the Natural History of Destruction, Campo Santo, Unrecounted, A Place in the Country. His selected poetry is published in a volume called Across the Land and the Water.
Owen Mackenzie's life story abounds with sin and seduction, domesticity and debauchery. His marriage to his college sweetheart is quickly followed by his first betrayal and he embarks upon a series of affairs. His pursuit of happiness, in a succession of small towns from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, brings him to the edge of chaos, from which he is saved by a rescue that carries its own fatal price.
THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER ADAPTED INTO A FEATURE FILM WITH TOM HANKS From the critically acclaimed author of Here I Am, Everything is Illuminated and We are the Weather - a heartrending and unforgettable novel set in the aftermath of the 9/11 'Utterly engaging, hugely involving, tragic, funny and intensely moving... A heartbreaker' Spectator 'The most incredible fictional nine-year-old ever created... a funny, heart-rending portrayal of a child coping with disaster. It will have you biting back the tears' Glamour 'Pulsates with dazzling ideas' Times Literary Supplement 'It's a miracle... So impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving' Baltimore Sun 'Jonathan Safran Foer is a writer of considerable brilliance' Observer In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key... The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open? So begins a quest that takes Oskar - inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective - across New York's five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?
One of the BBC's '100 Novels that Shaped the World' 'Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!' The death, quite suddenly, of Sir Charles Baskerville in mysterious circumstances is the trigger for one of the most extraordinary cases ever to challenge the brilliant analytical mind of Sherlock Holmes. As rumours of a legendary hound said to haunt the Baskerville family circulate, Holmes and Watson are asked to ensure the protection of Sir Charles' only heir, Sir Henry - who has travelled all the way from America to reside at Baskerville Hall in Devon. And it is there, in an isolated mansion surrounded by mile after mile of wild moor, that Holmes and Watson come face to face with a terrifying evil that reaches out from centuries past . . .
Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love is one of the funniest, sharpest novels about love and growing up ever written. 'He was the great love of her life you know.' 'Oh, dulling,' said my mother, sadly, 'One always thinks that. Every, every time.' Longing for love, obsessed with weddings and let's not even mention the mysteries of sex, Linda and her sisters and cousin Fanny are on the hunt for the ideal lover. But finding the perfect match is much harder than any of the sisters had ever dreamed. Linda is first courted by a Tory MP and then becomes embroiled with a handsome but humourless communist, before she risks everything on a chance at real, head-over-heels love in war-torn Paris . . . 'Peerless' Zoe Heller
Three novels by Cesar Aira combines three short novels by the cult Argentinian writer in one beautifully designed box set. Irreverent, playful, provocative and prolific, Argentinian author Cesar Aira has written over seventy books and has been acknowledged internationally to be one of the most original and provocative authors in world literature. Collected here are three of his novellas, to be published for the very first time in the UK. In Ghosts, an immigrant worker's family are squatting on the haunted construction site of a luxury condominium building. All of the workmen and their families see the ghosts which float around the place, but one teenage girl's interest in them becomes so intense that her mother realizes her life is in the balance. An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter tells of a point in the life of German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas, when he visits Latin America to paint its spectacular landscapes. There, a strange episode interrupts his trip and irreversibly marks him for life. And in The Literary Conference, a young translator called Cesar Aira travels to a literary conference, intent on world domination . . . Praise for Cesar Aira: 'Once you've started reading Aira, you don't want to stop' Roberto Bolano 'Aira is firmly in the tradition of Jorge Luis Borges and W. G. Sebald' Los Angeles Times
'Think of two parallel lines. One is the life of Lee H. Oswald. One is the conspiracy to kill the President. What bridges the space between them? What makes a connection inevitable? There is a third line. It comes out of dreams, visions, intuitions, prayers, out of the deepest levels of the self.' A troubled adolescent endlessly riding New York's subway cars, Lee Harvey Oswald enters adulthood believing himself to be an agent of history. This makes him fair game to a pair of discontented CIA operatives convinced that a failed attempt on the life of the US president will force the nation to tackle the threat of communism head on. Libra is a gripping, masterful blend of fact and fiction, laying bare the wounded American psyche and the dark events that still torment it. 'An audacious blend of fiction and fact' The Times
Colm Toibin's Brooklyn is a devastating story of love, loss and one woman's terrible choice between duty and personal freedom. It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go, leaving behind her family and her home for the first time. Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. She is far from home - and homesick. And just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma - a devastating choice between duty and one great love. 'With this elating and humane novel, Colm Toibin has produced a masterwork' Sunday Times 'The most compelling and moving portrait of a young woman I have read in a long time' Zoe Heller Guardian, Books of the Year 'A work of such skill, understatement and sly jewelled merriment could haunt your life' Ali Smith TLS, Books of the Year
Nobel Laureate and two-time Booker prize-winning author of Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee tells the remarkable story of a nation gripped in brutal apartheid in Age of Iron. In Cape Town, South Africa, an elderly classics professor writes a letter to her distant daughter, recounting the strange and disturbing events of her dying days. She has been opposed to the lies and the brutality of apartheid all her life, but now she finds herself coming face to face with its true horrors: the hounding by the police of her servant's son, the burning of a nearby black township, the murder by security forces of a teenage activist who seeks refuge in her house. Through it all, her only companion, the only person to whom she can confess her mounting anger and despair, is a homeless man who one day appears on her doorstep. In Age of Iron, J. M. Coetzee brings his searing insight and masterful control of language to bear on one of the darkest episodes of our times. 'Quite simply a magnificent and unforgettable work' Daily Telegraph 'A superbly realized novel whose truth cuts to the bone' The New York Times 'A remarkable work by a brilliant writer' Wall Street Journal
Anita Brookner's first novel, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'Dr Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.' Ruth Weiss, an academic, is beautiful, intelligent and lonely. Studying the heroines of Balzac in order to discover where her own childhood and adult life has gone awry, she seeks not salvation but enlightenment. Yet in revisiting her London upbringing, her friendships and doomed Parisian love affairs, she wonders if perhaps there might not be a chance for a new start in life . . .
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is Mohsin Hamid's thrillingly provocative international bestseller, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2007 Now a major film directed by Mira Nair and starring Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland 'Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a lover of America . . . ' So speaks the mysterious stranger at a Lahore cafe as dusk settles. Invited to join him for tea, you learn his name and what led this speaker of immaculate English to seek you out. For he is more worldy than you might expect; better travelled and better educated. He knows the West better than you do. And as he tells you his story, of how he embraced the Western dream -- and a Western woman -- and how both betrayed him, so the night darkens. Then the true reason for your meeting becomes abundantly clear . . . Challenging, mysterious and thrillingly tense, Mohsin Hamid's masterly The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a vital read teeming with questions and ideas about some of the most pressing issues of today's globalised, fractured world. 'Masterful . . . A multi-layered and thoroughly gripping book, which works as a poignant love story, a powerful dissection of how US imperialist machinations have turned so many people against the world's superpower - and as a thriller that subtly ratchets up the nerve-jangling tension towards an explosive ending' Metro 'Beautifully written . . . more exciting than any thriller I've read for a long time' Philip Pullman 'A brilliant book' Kiran Desai 'Admirably spare and amazingly exciting' Rachel Cooke, New Statesman Mohsin Hamid is the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moth Smoke and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. His fiction has been translated into over 30 languages, received numerous awards, and been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He has contributed essays and short stories to publications such as the Guardian, The New York Times, Financial Times, Granta, and Paris Review. Born and mostly raised in Lahore, he spent part of his childhood in California, studied at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and has since lived between Lahore, London, and New York.
The Road to Lichfield is the Booker Prize shortlisted first novel by Penelope Lively, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time on the 40th anniversary of its publication. Ann Linton leaves her family in Berkshire and sets up camp in her father's house when he is taken into a nursing home in distant Lichfield. As she shares his last weeks she meets David Fielding, and the love they share brings her feelings into sharp focus. Deeply felt, beautifully controlled, The Road to Lichfield is a subtle exploration of memory and identity, of chance and consequence, of the intricate weave of generations across a past never fully known, and a future never fully anticipated. 'A searing study of the peculiar state of being in love . . . there are few contemporary novelists to match her on this subject' Sunday Telegraph
Any Human Heart is William's Boyd's classic, bestselling novel, now available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart's - lived from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century - contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in '60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full - and a journey deep into a very human heart. Any Human Heart will be enjoyed by readers of Sebastian Faulks, Nick Hornby and Hilary Mantel, as well as lovers of the finest British and historical fiction around the world. It was recently adapted for a major Channel 4 four-part drama series scripted by William Boyd and starring Kim Cattrall, Gillian Anderson, Jim Broadbent and Tom Hollander. This edition features beautiful cover artwork from the television series. 'Astonishing, touching, extremely funny. A brilliant evocation of a past era and an immensely readable story' Sunday Telegraph 'Superb, wonderful, enjoyable' Guardian 'A terrific journey through the twentieth century. Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable' Jeremy Paxman
Chosen by the Guardian as one of the Best Books of the 21st Century From the MAN BOOKER PRIZE- and WOMEN'S PRIZE-SHORTLISTED author of Swing Time, On Beauty and Grand Union 'BELIEVE THE HYPE' The Times The international bestseller and modern classic of multicultural Britain - an unforgettable portrait of London One of the most talked about debut novels of all time, White Teeth is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing - among many other things - with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book. 'The almost preposterous talent was clear from the first pages' Julian Barnes, Guardian 'Street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time' New York Times 'Outstanding' Sunday Telegraph
The gap year classic, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time in the year of its 20th anniversary. A devastatingly funny satire on the whole idea of student travel,and particularly the India back-pack trail. Dave travels to India with Liz because he thinks he might be able to get her into bed. Liz travels to India with Dave because she wants a companion for her voyage of spiritual discovery. She loves it. He dreams of frosty mornings, pints of lager and restaurants where vegetable curry is only a side-dish . . .
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is bestselling author Marina Lewycka's hilarious and award winning debut novel, now available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.' Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their emigre engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth. But the sisters' campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe's darkest history and sends them back to roots they'd much rather forget . . . 'It's rare to find a first novel that gets so much right . . . Lewycka is a seriously talented comic writer' Time Out 'Hugely enjoyable . . . yields a golden harvest of family truths' Daily Telegraph 'Delightful, funny, touching' Spectator
Nick Hornby's internationally bestselling first novel, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups? Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn't on it - even though she's just become his latest ex. He's got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behave as if Laura never mattered. But Rob finds he can't move on. He's stuck in a really deep groove - and it's called Laura. Soon, he's asking himself some big questions: about love, about life - and about why we choose to share ours with the people we do. A million-copy bestseller, and adapted into a 2000 film starring John Cusack, High Fidelity explores the world of break-ups, make-ups and what it is to be in love. This astutely observed and wickedly funny book will be enjoyed by readers of David Nicholls and William Boyd, and by generations of readers to come. 'It will give enormous pleasure at the same time as expanding in a small but worthwhile way, the range of English literature' Independent on Sunday 'Leaves you believing not only in the redemptive power of music but above all the redemptive power of love. Funny and wise, sweet and true' Independent 'A triumphant first novel. True to life, very funny and moving' Financial Times
Twilight is the haunting novel by Nobel Peace prize-winning author Elie Wiesel, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Raphael Lipkin hears voices and talks to ghosts. Spending the summer at the Mountain Clinic, a New York psychiatric hospital, he is not a patient but rather a visiting professional with a secret, highly personal quest. A Holocaust survivor who has painstakingly rebuilt his life, he has watched, horrified and helpless, as it all started coming apart. He longs for Pedro, the man who rescued him in postwar Poland - who became his mentor, hero, saviour and friend - and taught him truth from falsehood. But Pedro vanished into Stalin's gulags . . . Desperate to explain his own survival, Raphael now seeks among the delusional patients the answers to the mysteries of good, evil and madness. Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was fifteen years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. After the war, Elie Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist. During an interview with the distinguished French writer, Francois Mauriac, he was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps. The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir, La Nuit or Night, which has since been translated into more than thirty languages.
A celebration of the drama and intensity of the mother-child relationship, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. It is the Swinging Sixties, and Rosamund Stacey is young and inexperienced at a time when sexual liberation is well on its way. She conceals her ignorance beneath a show of independence, and becomes pregnant as a result of a one night stand. Although single parenthood is still not socially acceptable, she chooses to have the baby rather than to seek an illegal abortion, and finds her life transformed by motherhood. 'Rosamund is marvellous, a true Drabble heroine . . . what spirit is here' Sunday Times 'One of our foremost women writers' Guardian 'The novelist who will have done for late twentieth-century London what Dickens did for Victorian London' The New York Times
The classic Cold War thriller, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Alec Leamas is tired. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, Leamas's mission may prove to be the worst thing he could ever have done.
The hilarious 1980s political satire by Jonathan Coe, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Newspaper-columnist Hilary gets thousands for telling it like it isn't; Henry's turning hospitals into car parks; Roddy's selling art in return for sex; down on the farm Dorothy's squeezing every last pound from her livestock; Thomas is making a killing on the stock exchange; and Mark is selling arms to dictators.
Fifty-one years, nine months and four days have passed since Fermina Daza rebuffed hopeless romantic Florentino Ariza's impassioned advances and married Dr Juvenal Urbino instead. During that half-century, Flornetino has fallen into the arms of many delighted women, but has loved none but Fermina. Having sworn his eternal love to her, he lives for the day when he can court her again. When Fermina's husband is killed trying to retrieve his pet parrot from a mango tree, Florentino seizes his chance to declare his enduring love. But can young love find new life in the twilight of their lives?
The classic World War One novel, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Alec and Jerry shouldn't have been friends: Alec's life was one of privilege, while Jerry's was one of toil. But this hardly mattered to two young men whose shared love of horses brought them together and whose whole lives lay ahead of them. When war breaks out in 1914, both Jerry and Alec sign up - yet for quite different reasons. On the fields of Flanders they find themselves standing together, but once again divided: as officer and enlisted man. And it is there, surrounded by mud and chaos and death, that one of them makes a fateful decision whose consequences will test their friendship and loyalty to breaking point.
The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller, available as a Penguin Essential for the first time. A castle at the foot of the Carpathian mountains in the 1930s. Two men, inseparable in their youth, meet for the first time in forty-one years. They have spent their lives waiting for this moment. Four decades earlier a murky, traumatic event - something to do with a betrayal, and a woman - led to their sudden separation. Now, as their lives draw to a close, the devastating truth about that moment will be revealed. Embers is a masterpiece - an unforgettable story of passion, fidelity, truth and deception.
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 ...
THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING NOVEL ADAPTED INTO A FEATURE FILM WITH ELIJAH WOOD From the bestselling author of Here I Am, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and We are the Weather - a hilarious, life-affirming and utterly original novel about the search for truth - now available as a pocket-sized Penguin Essential 'Gripping, hilariously funny and deeply serious. An astonishing feat of writing' The Times 'One of the most impressive novel debuts of recent years' Joyce Carol Oates, Times Literary Supplement 'A first novel of startling originality' Jay McInerney, Observer 'It seems hard to believe that such a young writer can have such a deep understanding of both comedy and tragedy' Erica Wagner, The Times A young man arrives in the Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a blind old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive -- a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down...
The Help is a deeply moving, timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we won't. It is about how women, whether mothers or daughters, the help or the boss, relate to each other - and that terrible feeling that those who look after your children may understand them, even love them, better than you...
The classic book that inspired Kes, the famous film, now published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Barry Hines's A Kestrel for a Knave was published in 1968, and was made into one of the key British films of the sixties. Billy Casper is beaten by his drunken brother, ignored by his mother and failing at school. He seems destined for a hard, miserable life down the pits, but for a brief time, he finds one pleasure in life: a wild kestrel that he has raised and tamed himself.
When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced 'Anglo-Indian' community. Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the 'real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects.
'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 ...
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.
Shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, and published here as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Nine-year-old Suleiman is just awakening to the wider world beyond the games on the hot pavement outside his home and beyond the loving embrace of his parents. He becomes the man of the house when his father goes away on business, but then he sees his father, standing in the market square in a pair of dark glasses. Suddenly the wider world becomes a frightening place where parents lie and questions go unanswered. Suleiman turns to his mother, who, under the cover of night, entrusts him with the secret story of her childhood.
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.
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.
Nobel Laureate and two-time Booker prize-winning author of Disgrace and The Life and Times of Michael K, J. M. Coetzee reimagines Daniel DeFoe's classic novel Robinson Crusoe in Foe. Published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. In an act of breathtaking imagination, J.M Coetzee radically reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe. In the early eighteenth century, Susan Barton finds herself adrift from a mutinous ship and cast ashore on a remote desert island. There she finds shelter with its only other inhabitants: a man named Cruso and his tongueless slave, Friday. In time, she builds a life for herself as Cruso's companion and, eventually, his lover. At last they are rescued by a passing ship, but only she and Friday survive the journey back to London. Determined to have her story told, she pursues the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe in the hope that he will relate truthfully her memories to the world. But with Cruso dead, Friday incapable of speech and Foe himself intent on reshaping her narrative, Barton struggles to maintain her grip on the past, only to fall victim to the seduction of storytelling itself. Treacherous, elegant and unexpectedly moving, Foe remains one of the most exquisitely composed of this pre-eminent author's works. 'A small miracle of a book. . . of marvellous intricacy and overwhelming power' Washington Post 'A superb novel' The New York Times
Esther Freud's best-known novel, which inspired the Kate Winslet film, published as Penguin Essential for the first time.
The classic comedy of a 50s youth trapped inside a Walter Mitty fantasy-world, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar was published in 1959, and captures brilliantly the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town. It tells the story of Billy Fisher, a Yorkshire teenager unable to stop lying - especially to his three girlfriends. Trapped by his boring job and working-class parents, Billy finds that his only happiness lies in grand plans for his future and fantastical day-dreams of the fictional country Ambrosia.
A story of self-obsession narrated by the point of view of a psychiatrist, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. As a psychiatrist in a top-security mental hospital in the 1950s, Peter Cleave has made a study of what he calls 'the catastrophic love affair characterized by sexual obsession.' His experience is extensive, and he is never surprised. Until, that is, he comes reluctantly to accept that the wife of one of his colleagues has embarked on such an affair...
The most famous catastrophe novel of the twentieth century, John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.' When a freak cosmic event renders most of the Earth's population blind, Bill Masen - one of the lucky few to keep his sight - finds himself trapped in a London jammed with sightless mobs who prey on those who can still see. But another menace stalks blind and sighted alike. With nobody to stop them the Triffids - walking carnivorous plants with lethal stingers - rise up as humanity stumbles and falls . . .
'A whole Gothic world had come to grief . . .' Beautiful Lady Brenda Last lives at Hetton Abbey, a crumbling Gothic monstrosity that is her husband Tony's pride and joy. Bored and restless after seven years of marriage, she drifts into an affair with a worthless young socialite. Abandoning the country for the glamorous yet shallow London scene, Brenda imagines divorce will bring happiness. Instead she and Tony feel lost and isolated - victims of the wreckless times in which they live . . .
I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill is a chilling novel that explores the extremes of childhood cruelty, now published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'Some people are coming here today, now you will have a companion.' But young Edmund Hooper doesn't want anyone else in Warings, the large and rambling Victorian house he shares with his widowed father. Nevertheless Charles Kingshaw and his mother are soon installed and Hooper sets about subtly persecuting the fearful new arrival. In the woods, Charles fights back but he knows that his rival will always win the affections of the adults - and that worse is still to come . . .
NOW AN AMAZON ORIGINAL SERIES 'Truth, she thought. As terrible as death. But harder to find.' America, fifteen years after the end of the Second World War. The winning Axis powers have divided their spoils: the Nazis control New York, while California is ruled by the Japanese. But between these two states - locked in a cold war - lies a neutal buffer zone in which legendary author Hawthorne Abendsen is rumoured to live. Abendsen lives in fear of his life for he has written a book in which World War Two was won by the Allies. . .
A haunting novel about art and its power to heal, J. L. Carr's A Month in the Country published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'That night, for the first time during many months, I slept like the dead and, next morning, awoke very early.' One summer, just after the Great War, Tom Birkin, a demobbed soldier, arrives in the village of Oxgodby. He has been invited to uncover and restore a medieval wall painting in the local church. At the same time, Charles Moon - a fellow damaged survivor of the war - has been asked to locate the grave of a village ancestor. As these two outsiders go about their work of recovery, they form a bond, but they also stir up long dormant passions within the village. What Berkin discovers here will stay with him for the rest of his life . . .
The devastating modern classic of contemporary war fiction from Women's Prize-shortlisted author of The Silence of the Girls Regeneration is the first novel in Pat Barker's Booker Prize-winning Regeneration trilogy - a powerfully moving portrait of the deep legacy of human trauma in the First World War 'Brilliant, intense and subtle' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times 'One of the strongest and most interesting novelists of her generation' Guardian 'Unforgettable' Sunday Telegraph Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland, 1917, and army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating shell-shocked soldiers. Under his care are the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as mute Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. Rivers's job is to make the men in his charge healthy enough to fight. Yet the closer he gets to mending his patients' minds the harder becomes every decision to send them back to the horrors of the front. Pat Barker's Regeneration is the classic exploration of how the traumas of war brutalised a generation of young men. The Regeneration trilogy: Regeneration The Eye in the Door The Ghost Road
New Penguin Essentials edition of Ralph Ellison's blistering, impassioned novel of African-American lives in 1940s America, Invisible Man. 'I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.' Defeated and embittered by a country which treats him as a non-being, the 'invisible man' retreats into an underground cell, where he smokes, drinks, listens to jazz and recounts his search for identity in white society: as an optimistic student in the Deep South, in the north with the black activist group the Brotherhood, and in the Harlem race riots. And explains how he came to be living underground . . .
An Ice-Cream War is William Boyd's sparkling debut novel on the grimly comic side of conflict, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'What do you think would happen if I shot an elephant in the balls?' 'I think it would hurt a great deal.' Millions die on the Western Front but in East Africa a quite different war is being waged - one with little point and which is so ignored that it will carry on after the Armistice because no one bothers to tell both sides to stop. As the conflict sweeps up natives and colonials, so those left at home and those fighting abroad find themselves unable to escape the tide of history bearing down on them.
Hard-boiled detective fiction at its best: Raymond Chandler's best loved novel, The Big Sleep, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.' Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is hired by wheelchair-bound General Sternwood to discover who is indulging in some petty blackmail. A weary, old man, Sternwood just wants the problem to go away. But Marlowe finds he has his work cut out just keeping Sternwood's wild, devil-may-care daughters out of trouble as they prowl LA's dirtiest and darkest streets. And pretty soon, he's up to his neck in hoodlums and corpses . . .
One of the BBC's '100 Novels that Shaped the World' A Hay Festival and The Poole VOTE 100 BOOKS for Women Selection Muriel Spark's classic The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie features a schoolmistress you'll never forget, in this beautifully repackaged Penguin Essentials edition. 'Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life . . .' Passionate, free-thinking and unconventional, Miss Brodie is a teacher who exerts a powerful influence over her group of 'special girls' at Marcia Blaine School. They are the Brodie set, the creme de la creme, each famous for something - Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex - who are initiated into a world of adult games and extracurricular activities they will never forget. But the price they pay is their undivided loyalty . . . The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a brilliantly comic novel featuring one of the most unforgettable characters in all literature. 'Muriel Spark's novels linger in the mind as brilliant shards' John Updike 'Spark's most celebrated novel' Independent 'There is no question about the quality and distinctiveness of her writing, with its quirky concern with human nature, and its comedy' William Boyd 'A brilliant psychological figure' Observer Muriel Spark was born and educated in Edinburgh. She was active in the field of creative writing since 1950, when she won a short-story writing competition in the Observer, and her many subsequent novels include Memento Mori (1959), The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), The Girls of Slender Means (1963) and Aiding and Abetting (2000). She also wrote plays, poems, children's books and biographies. She became Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1993, and died in 2006.
'I fail to see - because I do not happen to be a Somebody - why my diary should be not be interesting' Mr Pooter is a man of modest ambition, content with his clerkly lot. So why is he always in trouble with disagreeable tradesmen, impudent young clerks and wayward friends? And what is he to do about his son Lupin's distinctly unsuitable choice of bride? However hard he tries, life piles its little mishaps on his head - but he's not about to give up.
In Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf explores the events of one day, impression by impression, minute by minute, as Clarissa Dalloway's and Septimus Smith's worlds look set to collide - this classic novel is beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.' On a June morning in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway, the glittering wife of a Member of Parliament, is preparing for a party she is giving that evening. As she walks through London, buying flowers, observing life, her thoughts are of the past and she remembers the time when she was as young as her own daughter Elizabeth, her romance with Peter Walsh, now recently returned from India; and the friends of her youth. Elsewhere in London Septimus Smith is being driven mad by shell shock. As the day draws to its end, his world and Clarissa's collide in unexpected ways. In Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf explored the events of one day, impression by impression, minute by minute, and recorded the feel of life itself. 'One of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century' Michael Cunningham 'Woolf is Modern. She feels close to us.' Jeanette Winterson Born in 1882, Virginia Woolf was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917. Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and her major novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), and Between the Acts (1941). Woolf lived an energetic life, reviewing and writing and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.
'His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as a mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.' Jix Dixon has a terrible job at a second-rate university. His life is full of things he could happily do without: the tedious and ridiculous Professor Welch, a neurotic and unstable girlfriend, Margaret, burnt sheets, medieval recorder music and over-enthusiastic students. If he can just deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England', a moderately successful career surely awaits him. But without luck, life is never simple . . .
'So it happens, therefore, that every element says something to someone' Inspired by the rhythms of the Periodic Table, Primo Levi assesses his life in terms of the chemical elements he associates with his past. From his birth into an Italian Jewish family through his training as a chemist, to the pain and darkness of the Holocaust and its aftermath, Levi reflects on the difficult course of his life in this heartfelt and deeply moving book.
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.
'When I opened my eyes and sat up in bed Nora was shaking me and a man with a gun in his hand was standing in the bedroom doorway.' Ex-detective Nick Charles attracts trouble like a magnet. He thinks his sleuthing days are over, but when Julia Wolf, a former acquaintance, is found dead, her body riddled with bullets, Nick - along with his glamorous wife, Nora - can't resist making a few enquiries. Clyde Miller Wynant, Julia's lover and boss, has disappeared. Everyone is after him, but Nick is not convinced Wynant is the murderer - and when he finds a junked-up hoodlum with a careless attitude to guns in his bedroom, it's only the beginning of his troubles.
'Junk is not, like alcohol or weed, a means to increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life' William Burroughs, legendary drug addict, founder member of the Beats and author of Naked Lunch, relates with unflinching realism the addict's life: from initial heroin bliss to an unabated hunger for the needle, and the horrors of cold turkey and back again.
'Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.' Suffering from every malady in the book except housemaid's knee, three men and a dog decide to head for a restful vacation on the Thames. Anticipating peace and leisure, they encounter, in fact, the joys of roughing it, of getting their boat stuck in locks, of being towed by amateurs, of having to eat their own cooking and, of course, of coping with the glorious English weather.
'Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire.' Marlow, a seaman, tells of a journey up the Congo. His goal is the troubled European and ivory trader Kurtz. Worshipped and feared by invaders as well as natives, Kurtz has become a godlike figure, his presence pervading the jungle like a thick, obscuring mist. As his boat labours further upstream, closer and closer to Kurtz's extraordinary and terrible domain, so Marlow finds his faith in himself and civilization crumbling.
'Snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves.' From a child grappling with the death of a fallen priest, to a young woman's dilemma over whether to elope to Argentina with her lover, to the dance party at which a man discovers just how little he really knows about his wife, these fifteen stories bring the gritty realism of existence in Joyce's native Dublin to life.
'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of my tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.' Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, frustrated college professor. In love with his landlady's twelve-year-old daughter Lolita, he'll do anything to possess her. Unable and unwilling to stop himself, he is prepared to commit any crime to get what he wants. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these?
'There has been a lot of fighting hereabouts. The trenches have made themselves rather than been made, and run inconsequently in and out of the big thirty-foot high stacks of bricks; it is most confusing. The parapet of a trench which we don't occupy is built up with ammunition boxes and corpses . . .' In one of the most honest and candid self-portraits ever committed to paper, Robert Graves tells the extraordinary story of his experiences as a young officer in the First World War. He describes life in the trenches in vivid, raw detail, how the dehumanizing horrors he witnessed left him shell-shocked. They were to haunt him for the rest of his life.
One of the BBC's '100 Novels that Shaped the World' A Hay Festival and The Poole VOTE 100 BOOKS for Women Selection A hilarious and merciless parody of rural melodramas and one of the best-loved comic novels of all time, Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons is beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'We are not like other folk, maybe, but there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm...' Sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste has been expensively educated to do everything but earn a living. When she is orphaned at twenty, she decides her only option is to descend on relatives - the doomed Starkadders at the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm. There is Judith in a scarlet shawl, heaving with remorse for an unspoken wickedness; raving old Ada Doom, who once saw something nasty in the woodshed; lustful Seth and despairing Reuben, Judith's two sons; and there is Amos, preaching fire and damnation to one and all. As the sukebind flowers, Flora takes each of the family in hand and brings order to their chaos. Cold Comfort Farm is a sharp and clever parody of the melodramatic and rural novel. 'Very probably the funniest book ever written' Sunday Times 'Screamingly funny and wildly subversive' Marian Keyes, Guardian 'Delicious ... Cold Comfort Farm has the sunniness of a P. G. Wodehouse and the comic aplomb of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop' Independent 'One of the finest parodies written in English...a wickedly brilliant skit' Robert Macfarlane, Guardian Stella Gibbons was born in London in 1902. She went to North London Collegiate School and studied journalism at University College, London. She then worked for ten years on various papers, including the Evening Standard. Her first publication was a book of poems, The Mountain Beast (1930), and her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm (1932), won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize. Amongst her other novels are Miss Linsey and Pa (1936), Nightingale Wood (1938), Westwood (1946), Conference at Cold Comfort Farm (1949) and Beside the Pearly Water (1954). Stella Gibbons died in 1989.
'Connie was aware, however, of a growing restlessness...It thrilled inside her body, in her womb, somewhere, till she felt she must jump into water and swim to get away from it; a mad restlessness. It made her heart beat violently for no reason...' Lady Constance Chatterley is trapped in a loveless marriage to a man who is impotent. Oppressed by her dreary life, she is drawn to Mellors the gamekeeper. Breaking out against the constraints of society she yields to her instinctive desire for him and discovers the transforming power of physical love which leads them both towards fulfilment. Banned for many years for its frank depiction of sex, Lady Chatterley's Lover was first published by Penguin in 1960 and was at the centre of a sensational obscenity trial at the Old Bailey. D. H. Lawrence himself called it 'the most improper novel in the world'.
One of the BBC's '100 Novels that Shaped the World' Jean Rhys's spell-binding novel Wide Sargasso Sea, inspired by Jane Eyre and winner the Royal Society of Literature Award is beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'There is no looking glass here and I don't know what I am like now... Now they have taken everything away. What am I doing in this place and who am I?' If Antoinette Cosway, a spirited Creole heiress, could have foreseen the terrible future that awaited her, she would not have married the young Englishman. Initially drawn to her beauty and sensuality, he becomes increasingly frustrated by his inability to reach into her soul. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals, unaware that in taking away her identity he is destroying a part of himself as well as pushing her towards madness. Set against the lush backdrop of 1830s Jamaica, Jean Rhys's powerful, haunting masterpiece was inspired by her fascination with the first Mrs Rochester, the mad wife in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. 'Compelling, painful and exquisite' Guardian 'Brilliant. A tale of dislocation and dispossession, which Rhys writes with a kind of romantic cynicism, desperate and pungent' The Times 'Rhys turns a menacing cipher into a grieving, plausible young woman, and one whose story says whole worlds about global mixtures, about the misunderstandings between the colonized, the colonizers and the people who can't easily say which they are' Time Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1890, the daughter of a Welsh doctor and a white Creole mother, and came to England when she was sixteen. Her first book, a collection of stories called The Left Bank, was published in 1927. This was followed by Quartet (originally Postures, 1928), After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930), Voyage in the Dark (1934) and Good Morning, Midnight (1939). None of these books was particularly successful and with the outbreak of war they went out of print. Jean Rhys dropped from sight until nearly twenty years later she was discovered living reclusively in Cornwall. During those years she had accumulated the stories collected in Tigers are Better-Looking. In 1966 she made a sensational reappearance with Wide Sargasso Sea, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award and the W. H. Smith Award. Her final collection of stories, Sleep It Off Lady, appeared in 1976 and Smile Please, her unfinished autobiography, was published posthumously in 1979. Jean Rhys died in 1979.
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.
Karen Blixen's Out of Africa is the lyrical and luminous memoir of Kenya that launched a million tourist trails, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills . . . Up in this high air you breathed easily . . . you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.' From the moment Karen Blixen arrived in Kenya in 1914 to manage a coffee plantation, her heart belonged to Africa. Drawn to the intense colours and ravishing landscapes, Blixen spent her happiest years on the farm, and her experiences and friendships with the people around her are vividly recalled in these memoirs. Out of Africa is the story of a remarkable and unconventional woman, and of a way of life that has vanished for ever. 'With its lyrical and luminous picture of Kenya, it launched a million tourist trails' Guardian 'A compelling story of passion and a movingly poetic tribute to a lost land' The Times A work of sincere power ... a fine lyrical study of life in East Africa - Harold Nicolson, Daily Telegraph Karen Blixen was born in Rungsted, Denmark, in 1885. After studying art at Copenhagen, Paris and Rome, she married her cousin, Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke, in 1914. Together they managed a coffee plantation in Kenya until they divorced in 1925. She continued on the farm until a collapse in the coffee market forced her back to Rungsted in 1931. Although she had written occasional contributions to Danish periodicals since 1905 (under the nom de plume of Osceola), her real debut took place in 1934 with the publication of Seven Gothic Tales, written in English under the pen name, Isak Dinesen. Out of Africa (1937) is an autobiographical account of the years she spent in Kenya. All of her subsequent books were published in both English and Danish, including Winter's Tales (1942) and The Angelic Avengers (1936). Among her other collections of stories are Last Tales (1957), Anecdotes of Destiny (1958), Shadows on the Grass (1960) and posthumously Ehrengard (1963). In the 1950s she was mentioned several times as a candidate to receive the Noble Prize in Literature. Baroness Blixen died in Rungsted in 1962. In 1991 her house was opened as The Karen Blixen Museum.
The Great Gatsby is a dazzling social satire, F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece and a milestone in twentieth-century literature, now beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'There was music from my neighbour's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.' Everybody who is anybody is seen at the glittering parties held in millionaire Jay Gatsby's mansion in West Egg, east of New York. The riotous throng congregates in his sumptuous garden, coolly debating Gatsby's origins and mysterious past. None of the frivolous socialites understands him and among various rumours is the conviction that 'he killed a man'. A detached onlooker, Gatsby is oblivious to the speculation he creates, but always seems to be watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. As the tragic story unfolds, Gatsby's destructive dreams and passions are revealed, leading to disturbing consequences. A brilliant evocation of 1920s high society, The Great Gatsby peels away the layers of this glamorous world to display the coldness and cruelty at its heart. 'Not only a page-turner and a heartbreaker, it's one of the most quintessentially American novels ever written' Time 'He (F Scott Fitzgerald) was better than he knew, for in fact and in the literary sense he invented a generation ' New York Times 'The most perfectly crafted work of fiction to have come out of America' Professor Tony Tanner 'The American masterwork, the finest work of fiction by any of this country's writers' Washington Post
'The unhappiness that I need and long for . . . is of the kind that will let me suffer with eagerness and die with lust. That is the unhappiness, or happiness, that I am waiting for.' Alienated from society, Harry Haller is the Steppenwolf, wild, strange and shy. His despair and desire for death draw him into an enchanted, Faust-like underworld. Through a series of shadowy encounters, romantic, freakish and savage by turn, Haller begins to rediscover the lost dreams of his youth. Adopted by the Sixties counterculture, Steppenwolf captured the mood of a disaffected generation that was beginning to question everything.
Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle is an irreverent and highly entertaining fantasy about the playful irresponsibility of nuclear scientists, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.' Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding fathers of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of Ice-nine, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Will Felix Hoenikker's death wish come true? Will his last, fatal gift to humankind bring about the end that, for all of us, is nigh? Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global apocalypse preys on our deepest fears of witnessing the end and, worse still, surviving it . . . 'The time to read Vonnegut is just when you begin to suspect that the world is not what it appears to be. He is not only entertaining, he is electrocuting. You read him with enormous pleasure because he makes your hair stand on end' New York Times 'One of the warmest, wisest, funniest voices to be found anywhere in fiction' Daily Telegraph 'Vonnegut has looked the world straight in the eye and never flinched' J. G. Ballard Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and was followed by The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House (1968); a collection of short stories, Slaughterhouse Five (1969), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988), Hocus Pocus (1990) and Timequake (1997). He is also the author of a number of collections of short stories and essays. Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007.
My Family and Other Animals is the bewitching account of a rare and magical childhood on the island of Corfu by treasured British conservationist Gerald Durrell, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'What we all need,' said Larry, 'is sunshine...a country where we can grow.' 'Yes, dear, that would be nice,' agreed Mother, not really listening. 'I had a letter from George this morning - he says Corfu's wonderful. Why don't we pack up and go to Greece?' 'Very well, dear, if you like,' said Mother unguardedly. Escaping the ills of the British climate, the Durrell family - acne-ridden Margo, gun-toting Leslie, bookworm Lawrence and budding naturalist Gerry, along with their long-suffering mother and Roger the dog - take off for the island of Corfu. But the Durrells find that, reluctantly, they must share their various villas with a menagerie of local fauna - among them scorpions, geckos, toads, bats and butterflies. Recounted with immense humour and charm My Family and Other Animals is a wonderful account of a rare, magical childhood. 'Durrell has an uncanny knack of discovering human as well as animal eccentricities' Sunday Telegraph 'A bewitching book' Sunday Times Gerald Durrell was born in Jamshedpur, India, in 1925. He returned to England in 1928 before settling on the island of Corfu with his family. In 1945 he joined the staff of Whipsnade Park as a student keeper, and in 1947 he led his first animal-collecting expedition to the Cameroons. He later undertook numerous further expeditions, visiting Paraguay, Argentina, Sierra Leone, Mexico, Mauritius, Assam and Madagascar. His first television programme, Two in the Bush which documented his travels to New Zealand, Australia and Malaya was made in 1962; he went on to make seventy programmes about his trips around the world. In 1959 he founded the Jersey Zoological Park, and in 1964 he founded the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. He was awarded the OBE in 1982. Encouraged to write about his life's work by his brother, Durrell published his first book, The Overloaded Ark, in 1953. It soon became a bestseller and he went on to write thirty-six other titles, including My Family and Other Animals, The Bafut Beagles, Encounters with Animals, The Drunken Forest, A Zoo in My Luggage, The Whispering Land, Menagerie Manor, The Amateur Naturalist and The Aye-Aye and I. Gerald Durrell died in 1995.
'My name is Eva, which means life , according to a book of names my mother consulted. I was born in the back room of a shadowy house, and grew up amidst ancient furniture, books in Latin, and human mummies, but none of those things made me melancholy, because I came into the world with a breath of the jungle in my memory.' Isabel Allende tells the sweet and sinister story of an orphan who beguiles the world with her astonishing visions, triumphing over the worst of adversity and bringing light to a dark place.
Meet the fat, flatulent and eloquent Ignatius J. Reilly in John Kennedy Toole's light and pithy comic tale A Confederacy of Dunces, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians . . . don't make the mistake of bothering me.' Ignatius J. Reilly: fat, flatulent, eloquent and almost unemployable. By the standards of ordinary folk he is pretty much unhinged, too. But is he bothered by this? No. For this misanthropic crusader against an America fallen into vice and ignorance has a mission: to rescue a naked female philosopher in distress. And he has a pirate costume and hot-dog cart to do it with . . . 'I succumbed, stunned and seduced, page after page, vocal with delight. A masterwork of comedy' New York Times 'A fine funny novel. This is the kind of book one wants to keep quoting from' Anthony Burgess John Kennedy Toole was born in New Orleans in 1937. He received a master's degree in English from Columbia University and taught at Hunter College and at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He wrote A Confederacy of Dunces in the early sixties and tried unsuccessfully to get the novel published; depressed, at least in part by his failure to place the book, he committed suicide in 1969. It was only through the tenacity of his mother that her son's book was eventually published and went on to win the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His long-suppressed novel The Neon Bible, written when he was only sixteen, has also been published.
'You love the boy body and soul, plainly, directly, as he loves you . . .' Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Pertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George. Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Victorian England, personified in her terminally dull fiance Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart? A Room with a View is a sunny, brilliantly witty comedy of manners. 'He says, and even more implies, things that no other novelist does, and we can go on reading Forster indefinitely' The Times 'I loved it. My first intimation of the possibilities of fiction' Zadie Smith
On the Road by Jack Kerouac is the exhilarating novel that defined the Beat Generation and is a 2012 major motion picture starring Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Riley, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'What's your road, man? - holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.' Sal Paradise, young and innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American Dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac's exhilarating novel defined the new 'Beat' generation and became the bible of the counter culture. 'On the Road sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road. The alienation, the restlessness, the dissatisfaction were already there waiting when Kerouac pointed out the road' William Burroughs 'Pop writing at its best. It changed the way I saw the world, making me yearn for fresh experience' Hanif Kureishi, Independent on Sunday Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922. Educated by Jesuit brothers in Lowell, he decided to become a writer at age seventeen and developed his own writing style, which he called 'spontaneous prose'. He used this technique to record the life of the American 'traveler' and the experiences of the Beat Generation, most memorably in On the Road and also in The Subterraneans and The Dharma Bums. His other works include Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Lonesome Traveler, Visions of Gerard, Tristessa, and a book of poetry called Mexico City Blues. Jack Kerouac died in 1969.
Journalist, maverick, rebel and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson offers another novel of American counterculture in Hell's Angels, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'A phalanx of motorcycles came roaring over the hill from the west... the noise was like a landslide, or a wing of bombers passing over. Even knowing the Angels I couldn't quite handle what I was seeing. It was like Genghis Khan, Morgan's Raiders, the Wild One and the Rape of Nanking all at once.' In September, 1964 a cavalcade of motorbikes ripped through the city of Monterey, California. It was a trip destined to make Hell's Angels household names across America, infamous for their violent, drunken rampages and feared for the destruction left in their wake. Enter Hunter S. Thompson, the master of counter-culture journalism who alone had the ability and stature to ride with the Angels on their terms. In this brilliant and hair-raising expose, he journeys with the last outlaws of the American frontier. A mixture of journalism, story-telling and sheer bravado, Hell's Angels is Hunter S. Thompson at full throttle. 'Excellent documentary non-fiction' Time Out 'The maverick voice of American counterculture' Guardian 'There are only two adjectives writers care about any more - brilliant and outrageous - and Hunter has a freehold on both of them' Tom Wolfe 'The book that made Thompson's name' Loaded Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937. He began his writing career as a sports columnist in Florida and went on to work on newspapers and magazines in New York, San Juan and Rio de Janeiro. His articles appeared in Esquire, Rolling Stone magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the author of a number of books, including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Great Shark Hunt, Generation of Swine, The Curse of Lono, Songs of the Doomed, Better Than Sex, The Proud Highway and The Rum Diary. Hunter S. Thompson died in 2005.
Truman Capote's dazzling New York novel Breakfast at Tiffany's that inspired the classic 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn is beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'What I've found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits...' Meet Holly Golightly - a free spirited, lop-sided romantic girl about town. With her tousled blond hair and upturned nose, dark glasses and chic black dresses, Holly is a style sensation wherever she goes. Her apartment rocks to Martini-soaked parties and she plays hostess to millionaires and gangsters alike. Yet Holly never loses sight of her ultimate dream - to find a real life place like Tiffany's that makes her feel at home. Full of sharp wit and exuberant, larger-than-life characters which vividly capture the restless, madcap era of 1940s New York, Breakfast at Tiffany's will make you fall in love, perhaps for the first time, with a book. 'A master writer ... makes the heart sing and the narrative fly' The New York Times 'The most romantic story ever written' Alex James, Guardian 'One of the century's greatest storytellers' Independent on Sunday Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1925. By the age of fourteen he had already started writing short stories, some of which were published. After leaving school at fifteen he worked for the New Yorker, his first - and last - regular job. Following this Capote spent two years on a Louisiana farm where he wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948). He lived, at one time or another, in Greece, Italy, Africa and the West Indies, and travelled in Russia and the Orient. Capote is the author of many highly acclaimed books, including A Tree of Night and Other Stories (1949), The Grass Harp (1951), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958), In Cold Blood (1965), which immediately became the centre of a storm of controversy on its publication, Music for Chameleons (1980) and Answered Prayers (1986). Truman Capote died in 1984.
'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.
A Hay Festival and The Poole VOTE 100 BOOKS for Women Selection 'Late into the night we talked of love, of its complications. In my father's eyes they were imaginary. . . This conception of rapid, violent and passing love affairs appealed to my imagination. I was not at the age when fidelity is attractive. I knew very little about love.' The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cecile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine. Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo are dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures. But then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cecile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences. Bonjour Tristesse scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cecile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom.
'A story for our, and all, times' Guardian Set in a town at the mercy of an epidemic, The Plague is an odyssey into the darkness and absurdity of human existence. ----------------------------------- 'On the morning of April 16, Dr Rieux emerged from his consulting-room and came across a dead rat in the middle of the landing.' It starts with the rats. Vomiting blood, they die in their hundreds, then in their thousands. When the rats are all gone, the citizens begin to fall sick. Like the rats, they too die in ever greater numbers. The authorities quarantine the town. Cut off, the terrified townspeople must face this horror alone. Some resign themselves to death or the whims of fate. Others seek someone to blame or dream of revenge. One is determined to escape. But a few, like stoic Dr Rieux, stand together to fight the terror. A monstrous evil has entered their lives, but they will never surrender to it. They will resist the plague. ----------------------------------- 'A matchless fable of fear, courage and cowardice' Independent
Renowned urban artist Shepard Fairey's new look for Orwell's classic account of life on the streets To be poor and destitute in 1920s Paris and London was to experience life at its lowest ebb. George Orwell, penniless and with nowhere to go, found himself experiencing just this as he wandered the streets of both capitals in search of a job. By day, he tramped the streets, often passing time with 'screevers' or street artists, drunks and other hobos. At night, he stood in line for a bed in a 'spike' or doss house, where a cup of sugary tea, a hunk of stale bread and a blanket were the only sustenance and comfort on offer. Down and Out in Paris and London is George Orwell's haunting account of the streets and those who have no choice but to live on them.
Renowned urban artist Shepard Fairey's new look for Orwell's timeless satire 'All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.' Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges. . . Animal Farm - the history of a revolution that went wrong - is George Orwell's brilliant satire on the corrupting influence of power.
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.
Classic storytelling from a bestselling author. Gallico's most famous story, THE SNOW GOOSE, is set in the wild, desolate Essex marshes and is an intense and moving tale about the relationship between a hunchback and a young girl. THE SMALL MIRACLE is a contemporary fable about a young boy's love for his dangerously ill donkey.
New Penguin Essentials edition of the heartbreaking classic of the roaring twenties, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 'I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there'll always be the person I am tonight.' American psychoanalyst Dick Diver and his wife Nicole live in a villa on the French Riviera, surrounded by a circle of glamorous friends. When beautiful film star Rosemary Hoyt arrives she is drawn to the couple - Dick contemplates an affair, while Nicole believes she's found a new best friend. But a dark secret lies at the centre of the Divers' marriage. A secret which could destroy Dick and Nicole and those close to them . . .
LP Hartley's great classic, THE GO-BETWEEN is a gripping evocation of a summer of hope and betrayal. An invitation to a friend's house changes a boy's life. Discovering an old diary, Leo, now in his sixties, is drawn back to the hot summer of 1900 and his visit to Brandham Hall. The past comes to life as Leo recalls the events and devastating outcome that destroyed his beliefs and future hopes.