Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life, one of the top-selling adult books of 2014, explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula's beloved younger brother, Teddy - would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband, and father - as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.
"Remarkable Companion to "Life After Life""
Margaret Atwood's classic novel, The Handmaid's Tale, is about the future. Now, in Oryx and Crake, the future has changed: it's much worse. The narrator of this riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he's sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death.
Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters, searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they'll find a place of their own and live the American dream. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn't know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss's daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him....
Rosemary's started college, and she's decided not to tell anyone about her family. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone - vanished from her life. There was something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. You'll have to find out for yourself what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.
"Ignore idea of a 'twist' for more satisfying read"
Tsukuru Tazaki's life was irreparably changed when his relationships with his high school best friends became severed during Tsukuru's college days, with no explanation. Now at 35, Tsukuru's girlfriend Sara suggests he goes to talk to these high school friends in person to mend the relationships. Tsukuru visited his friends in Nagoya and Finland one by one, and uncovers the real reason as to why their relations were broken off.
The second novel by Donna Tartt, best-selling author of The Goldfinch (winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize), The Little Friend is a grandly ambitious and utterly riveting novel of childhood, innocence and evil. The setting is Alexandria, Mississippi, where one Mother's Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents' yard. Twelve years later Robin's murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated.
"The unresolved American South."
London 1862: Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves - fingersmiths - under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her 'family'. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful 17-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life.
"A KIND NARRATIVE"
The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at last the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards - some strange and otherworldly - but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.
The smartest murder-mystery you will ever hearA misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them. And soon they enter a terrifying heart of darkness from which they may never return.
"The Secret History"
Pirriwee Public is a beautiful little beachside primary school where children are taught that 'sharing is caring.' So how has the annual School Trivia Night ended in full-blown riot? Sirens are wailing. People are screaming. The principal is mortified. And one parent is dead. Was it a murder, a tragic accident or just good parents gone bad? As the parents at Pirriwee Public are about to discover, sometimes it's the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal.
"Should be 4.5 Stars - Fantastic Surprise"
It is 1866 and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
"Beautifully written, but slower than a snail"
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early 40s, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.
"Stick with it"
One summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before Holly understands what sort of asylum the woman was seeking.... The Bone Clocks follows Holly's life: not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air, and brief lapses in the laws of reality.
Animal Farm is George Orwell's great socio-political allegory set in a farmyard where the animals decide to seize the farmer's land and create a co-operative that reaps the benefits of their combined labours. However, as with all great political plans, some animals see a bigger share of the rewards than others and the animals start to question their supposed utopia.
"A brilliant reading of a classic work"
A man-made plague has swept the Earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers - a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, one-time member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers' reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb.
At the heart of Joseph Heller's best-selling novel, first published in 1961, is a satirical indictment of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it.
Savagely funny and hauntingly sad, Lolita is Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel. It is the story of tortured college professor Humbert Humbert and his dangerous obsession with honey-skinned schoolgirl Dolores Haze.
Frances had been picturing her lodgers in purely mercenary terms - as something like two great waddling shillings. But this, she thought, was what it really meant to have paying guests: this odd, unintimate proximity, this rather peeled-back moment, where the only thing between herself and a naked Mrs Barber was a few feet of kitchen and a thin scullery door. An image sprang into her head: that round flesh, crimsoning in the heat.
A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld. In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail.
"Great for a rookie!"
Dazzling, hilarious, disturbing and utterly unforgettable new novel from the author of the Man Booker-shortlisted A Fraction of the Whole. Intensely moving, darkly funny and hugely entertaining, Quicksand focuses on the multifaceted dynamics between the protagonists Aldo and Liam: lifelong friends, criminal and police officer, muse and writer.
Prepare to lose yourself in the heady, mythical expanse of the Vorrh. In B. Catling's twisting, poetic narrative, Bakelite robots lie broken - their hard shells cracked by human desire - and an inquisitive Cyclops waits for his keeper and guardian, growing in all directions. Beyond the colonial city of Essenwald lies the Vorrh, the forest which sucks souls and wipes minds.
The astounding new novel from the master of science fiction. What would happen if the world were ending? When a catastrophic event renders the Earth a ticking time bomb, it triggers a feverish race against the inevitable. An ambitious plan is devised to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere. But unforeseen dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain....
Sense and Sensibility, the first novel written by Jane Austen, is the story of two upper-class sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who trade fortunes when they leave Sussex with their mother for a more modest life in Devon. While Elinor is torn from the love of her life in Sussex, her younger sister, Marianne, finds romance in Devon. This book, even though it is Austen's first, demonstrates her trademark style of wit and comedy.
It is summer's end, and Sea Breeze, the family's beloved estate on Sullivan's Island, must be sold. It is an emotional time of transition as Mamaw and the three sisters each must face loss and find a new place in the world.
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), sometimes referred to as the chronicler of the Russian period of depression and pessimism, was the leader of the realistic school of the Russian short story. His ability to create an atmosphere and build to a climax is unparalleled. He takes a moment in the protagonists' lives and reveals their souls in a handful of phrases. Mediocrity, pettiness, emptiness and meaninglessness are core themes as he strips bare the rot at the core of social structures.
Set in 1920s Nigeria, Arrow of God explores the clash between the old and the new when a village's chief priest loses his power, his son, and his sanity to Christianity and white authority.
On a quiet autumn afternoon in 1944, nine-year-old Morris Bird III decides to visit a friend who lives on the other side of town. So he grabs the handle of his red wagon and, with his little sister in tow, begins an incredible pilgrimage across Cleveland...and out of childhood forever.
A satirical tall tale presented as the drug and alcohol fuelled conversation of two old friends getting reacquainted over one night. It's also a boy-meets-girl story of the worst kind and a time-travel story about a future where the world is ruled by robots and humans are vermin. When timelines cross, the world as we know it bends.
A somber tale of consuming passions and vengeance played out against the lonely moors of northern England, the book proved to be one of the most enduring classics of English literature. The turbulent and tempestuous love story of Cathy and Heathcliff spans two generations. A masterpiece of imaginative fiction, Wuthering Heights (the author's only novel) remains as poignant and compelling today as it was when first published in 1847.
Allen Drury has penetrated the world's stormiest political battleground and the smoke-filled committee rooms of the United States Senate to reveal the bitter conflicts set in motion when the president calls upon the Senate to confirm his controversial choice for secretary of state. This novel is a true epic, showing in fascinating detail the minds and motives of the statesmen, the opportunists, the idealists. Advise and Consent is a timeless story with clear echoes of today's headlines.
By the celebrated author of Canada Reads Finalist Indian Horse, a stunning new novel that has all the timeless qualities of a classic, as it tells the universal story of a father/son struggle in a fresh, utterly memorable way, set in dramatic landscape of the BC Interior. For male and female readers equally, for readers of Joseph Boyden, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas King, Russell Banks, and general literary.
His father bent on making him a true Spanish nobleman, romantic young Eduardo crosses the seas to join his bumbling, megalomaniacal uncle, Cortés. Once he arrives in the new world, Eduardo falls passionately in love with an Aztec princess yet still assumes his place as a reluctant conquistador.
For fans of Brokeback Mountain and Legend of a Suicide, a story of a father's attempt to save his wayward son. Set in a stunning but scarred Canadian landscape, The Mountain Can Wait is a story of fathers and sons and the heartache they cause each other, in the tradition of Annie Proulx. Tom Berry has always been a loner, a man content to live out his days in the wilderness with just enough ammunition and kerosene to last out the winter.
"An Unfinished Race" is a short story. It was included in the collection Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories. One day, a shoemaker gets a little too drunk and begins boasting of his athletic abilities. He claims he can run some 40 miles and is taken up on the offer by two men who follow him in a wagon. Several miles in, the man appears to trip over something and fall.... What happens next? Listen to the story to find out.
Andrea Levy's acclaimed Small Island is a delicately wrought and profoundly moving novel of empire, prejudice, war, and love. It was awarded the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction, the 2004 Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize. It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun.
A breathtakingly original, darkly comic, surprisingly contemporary, and deeply surreal tale from the author of This Is the Way, Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. After fleeing his dying parents and the drudgery of work in Dublin for the Manhattan of his imagination - a place of romance and opulence; dark, old concert halls; and mellow front parlours quieted by the hiss of the phonograph cylinder - Rickard Velily hopes to be reborn as an Irish tenor and to one day be reunited with the love of his life.
"The Story of an Hour" describes the series of emotions of Louise Mallard, who has learned about the death of her husband, Brently. Mrs. Mallard immediately locks herself in her room to mourn the loss of her husband. However, she begins to feel an unexpected sense of exhilaration. "Free! Body and soul free!" She believes freedom is a benefit of her husband's death until she discovers him standing in the doorway of their house, alive....
"The Ambitious Guest" is a short story based on the Willey tragedy of Crawford Notch. A young traveler stayed for a night with a family that lived in a notch near a mountain. They made friendly conversation, but it was interrupted by the sound of rocks falling down the slope. The father reassured the visitor that rock falls happened regularly without causing harm, and the family had a safe place to go in case of serious collapse. Unfortunately a large avalanche had begun....
Day one: The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the Earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%. Week Two: Civilization has crumbled. Year Twenty: A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and it threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.
"Evocatively Portrayed End of the World..."
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....
"Murakami sparkles as ever"
Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version. With a novelist's skill and a poet's eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story.
For almost a decade, Rachel Caine has turned her back on home, kept distant by family disputes and her work monitoring wolves on an Idaho reservation. But now, summoned by the eccentric earl of Annerdale and his controversial scheme to reintroduce the grey wolf to the English countryside, she is back in the peat and wet light of the Lake District. The earl's project harks back to an ancient idyll of untamed British wilderness.
Kenneth Toomey is an eminent novelist of dubious talent; Don Carlo Campanati is a man of God, a shrewd manipulator who rises through the Vatican to become the architect of church revolution and a candidate for sainthood. These two men are linked not only by family ties but by a common understanding of mankind's frailties. In this epic masterpiece, Anthony Burgess plumbs the depths of the essence of power and the lengths men will go for it.
Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.
"The narrative moves on"
Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys - best friends - are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.
"An amazing and memorable book"
"The best way to enjoy this true classic"
Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick's harrowing demise. A profound study of the romantic concept of character - lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative.
Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote's masterstroke about a young writer's charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the "American geisha" Holly Golightly. Holly - a World War II-era society girl in her late teens - survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist.
"I have no idea why this is a classic..."
In the summer of 1914 a young Englishwoman, Vivian Rose Spencer, finds herself fulfilling a dream by joining an archeological dig in Turkey. Working alongside Germans and Turks, she falls in love with archaeologist, Tahsin Bey, and joins him in his quest to find an ancient silver circlet. The outbreak of war in Europe brings her idyllic summer to a sudden end, and her friends become her nation's enemies.
Mrs. Dalloway, perhaps Virginia Woolf's greatest novel, vividly follows English socialite Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party in post-World War I London. Four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening (American Beauty, The Kids Are All Right) brings Woolf's stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling to life, exploring the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman's life in a brilliant performance.
Paul Auster's signature work, The New York Trilogy, consists of three interlocking novels: City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room - haunting and mysterious tales that move at the breathless pace of a thriller.
"Not very enjoyable"
When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children's and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as "Rapunzel", "Hansel and Gretel", and "Cinderella" would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style.
"The dance enters the war"
To the Lighthouse is Virginia Woolf's arresting analysis of domestic family life, centering on the Ramseys and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early 1900s. Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut), who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Woolf in the film adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours, brings the impressionistic prose of this classic to vibrant life.
Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds healed through the grace of time.... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep - flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old. All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond.
"Can't ignore the obvious"
Alan Duncan returns to his family home in Australia after the war and several years of study in England. But his homecoming is marred by the mysterious suicide of his parents' quiet and reliable parlour-maid. A search through her belongings in search of clues leads to heart-breaking revelations about the woman's identity, the death of Alan's brother Bill, and, above all, the disappearance of his brother's fiancée, Janet.
"A poignant love story told with great restraint"