A Signature Performance: Kenneth Branagh plays this like a campfire ghost story, told by a haunted, slightly insane Marlow.
"Heart of Darkness - Read by Kenneth Branagh"
Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the '30s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much. To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition.
A modern masterpiece,The Godfather is a searing portrayal of the 1940s criminal underworld. It is also the intimate story of the Corleone family, at once drawn together and ripped apart by its unique position at the core of the American Mafia. Still shocking 40 years after it was first published, this compelling tale of blackmail, murder, and family values is a true classic.
"Superb and gripping story. It deserves respect."
"You girls are my vocation... I am dedicated to you in my prime." So says Miss Jean Brodie, a teacher unlike any other. She is proud and cultured. A romantic, with progressive, sometimes shocking ideas and aspirations for the girls in her charge. When she decides to transform a select group of pupils into the 'crème de la crème' at the Marcia Blaine School they become the Brodie set. In exchange for their undivided loyalty the girls earn a special place of honour and privilege within the school. Yet they are also introduced to a startling new world of adult games....
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"; "It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known"; so the novel begins and ends with some of Dicken's best-known words, and between the two is every Briton's view of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.
"The best of books, the best of readers"
Pip is an orphan, brought up in a village on the Essex marshes by his sister and her husband Joe Gargery, the kind-hearted village blacksmith. Life is harsh until Pip receives from an anonymous benefactor the chance of escaping the forge. But his expectations are fraught with difficulties as he passes from childhood to adulthood and discovers his true self.
Austen's heroine Elizabeth Bennet deals with the issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Austen at her wittiest.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
A Signature Performance: Four-time Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce delivers an air of lovable self-importance in his rendition of the classic social satire that remains as fresh today as the day it was published.
"Lively and unusual"
The modern audience hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker's original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we've tried something different. By returning to Stoker's original storytelling structure - a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters - with an all-star cast of narrators, we've sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.
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....
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"
"LOTR - Beautifully read"
Frodo and the Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. Now they continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin, alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.
"One 'Book' To Rule Them All!"
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.
The work tells the story of Jane's early life, her experience at Lowood School and as a governess. Her refusal to accept Rochester's love on any but her own strictly moral terms is a passionate cry for independence.
"A beautiful reading by Juliet Stevenson"
This is the disturbing tale of the dual personality of Dr. Jekyll, a physician. A generous and philanthropic man, he is preoccupied with the problems of good and evil and with the possibility of separating them into distinct personalities. He develops a drug that transforms him into the demonic Mr. Hyde, in whose person he exhausts all the latent evil in his nature.
"Martin Jarvis triumphs again!"
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic dystopian novel by English author George Orwell. Published in 1949, it is set in the eponymous year and focuses on a repressive, totalitarian regime. Read by gritty and accomplished actor Philip Glenister from the acclaimed crime series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.
"Excellent narration brings 1984 alive in 2009"
This is the story of Bathsheba Everdene, who inherits her uncle's farm, then surprises the villagers of Weatherbury by deciding to run it herself rather than hire a manager. 3 men vie for the affections of this independent young woman.
"A Pastoral Tale of Love and Loss Read Beautifully"
Shocking and controversial when it was first published, Steinbeck's Pulitzer prize-winning epic remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of Dust Bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel west in search of the promised land.
"A audiobook masterpiece"
Patrick Bateman is 26 and works on Wall Street. He is handsome, sophisticated, charming, and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. And he is taking us to a head-on collision with America's greatest dream - and its worst nightmare...
"A most uncomfortable and gripping listen!"
Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Aibileen is a black maid raising her 17th white child. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is the sassiest woman in Mississippi: a wonderful cook with a gossip's tongue. Graduate Skeeter returns from college with ambitions, but her mother will not be happy until she's married. Although world's apart, Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny's lives converge over a clandestine project that will change the town of Jackson forever.
"Relished every minute"
At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering "the cause of generation and life" and "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter", Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts. However, upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness.
It was a dark and stormy night when Mary Crane glimpsed the unlit neon sign announcing the vacancy at the Bates Motel. Exhausted, lost, and at the end of her rope, she was eager for a hot shower and a bed for the night. Her room was musty, but clean, and the manager seemed nice, if a little odd.
Cormac McCarthy, best-selling author of National Book Award winner All the Pretty Horses, delivers his first new novel in seven years. Written in muscular prose, No Country for Old Men is a powerful tale of the West that moves at a blistering pace.
"film success maybe, listen carefully!"
In this 1962 classic, a novelistic exploration of modern crime and punishment, Alex is the 15-year-old leader of his gang of "droogs" thriving in the ultraviolent future as prophetically imagined by Burgess. Speaking a bizarre Russian-derived slang, Alex and his friends freely pillage and slash their way across a nightmarish urban landscape until Alex is captured by the judicial arm of the state. He then becomes their prized guinea pig in a scientific program to completely "redeem" him for society.
Lucy has stumbled upon a marvellous land of fauns and centaurs, nymphs and talking animals. But soon she discovers that it is ruled by the cruel White Witch, and can only be freed by Aslan, the great Lion, and four children.
"A Must Buy."
When Mr. Earnshaw brings a black-haired foundling child into his home on the Yorkshire moors, he little imagines the dramatic events which will follow. The passionate relationship between Cathy Earnshaw and the foundling, Heathcliff, is a story of love, hate, pity, and retribution, the effects of which reverberate throughout the succeeding generations.
"A near perfect Reading."
Penguin presents Roald Dahl's Matilda, read by multi-award-winning actress Kate Winslet. Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary genius with really stupid parents. Miss Trunchbull is her terrifying headmistress who thinks all her pupils are rotten little stinkers. But Matilda will show these horrible grown-ups that even though she's only small, she's got some very powerful tricks up her sleeve....
Danny is only five years old, but in the words of old Mr Hallorann he is a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Danny's visions grow out of control. As winter closes in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seems to develop a life of its own. It is meant to be empty. So who is the lady in Room 217, and who are the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why do the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?
"A classic horror novel"
F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic American novel of the Roaring Twenties is beloved by generations of readers and stands as his crowning work. This new audio edition, authorized by the Fitzgerald estate, is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain). Gyllenhaal's performance is a faithful delivery in the voice of Nick Carraway, the Midwesterner turned New York bond salesman, who rents a small house next door to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. There, he has a firsthand view of Gatsby's lavish West Egg parties - and of his undying love....
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family."
"Well read, intriguing, but ultimately lacking."
Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presents an uncanny performance of Mary Shelley's timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.
A Signature Performance: Elijah Wood becomes the first narrator to bring a youthful voice and energy to the story, perhaps making it the closest interpretation to Twain's original intent.
"A great adventure story"
Tim Mison, star of the hit Fox series Sleepy Hollow, narrates the classic Washington Irving short story. In the secluded Dutch territory of Sleepy Hollow, nebbish schoolmaster Ichabod Crane competes with the town hero for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, the 18-year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. As Crane leaves a party at the Van Tassel's farm one autumn evening, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, an apparition said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper snuffed out by a stray cannonball.
"First time hearing it..."
A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope's shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery.
"Not my cup of tea"
A Signature Performance: Tim Curry, the source of our inspiration, returns - this time, he captures the quirky enthusiasm of this goofily visionary adventure.
Bradbury's Mars is a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor - of crystal pillars and fossil seas - where a fine dust settles on the great, empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn - first a trickle, then a torrent, rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars...and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.
"Not what I expected... so much more!"
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.
John Howard is determined to brighten up his old age by taking a fishing trip to France, but during his stay the Nazis invade. Howard must try to escape back to England with the two small children of some friends who are forced to stay behind in order to help the Allied war effort. As the conflict grows closer, the roads become impassable and Howard also comes across five more children who need his help. He ends up leading this motley group of youngsters through the French countryside, constantly beset by danger yet heroically protecting his charges.
Once upon a time, a teenaged Kate Winslet (The Reader, Titanic, Revolutionary Road) received a gift that would leave a lasting impression: a copy of Emile Zola's classic Thérèse Raquin. Six Academy Award nominations and one Best Actress award later, she steps behind the microphone to perform this haunting classic of passion and disaster.
"gripping and vivid"
On Anarchism provides the reasoning behind Noam Chomsky's fearless lifelong questioning of the legitimacy of entrenched power. In these essays, Chomsky redeems one of the most maligned ideologies, anarchism, and places it at the foundation of his political thinking. Chomsky's anarchism is distinctly optimistic and egalitarian. Moreover, it is a living, evolving tradition that is situated in a historical lineage; Chomsky's anarchism emphasizes the power of collective, rather than individualist, action.
This classic explains American philosopher George Stuary Fullerton's realistic views on philosophy. Fullerton, born in India, spent time at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale Divinity School, Columbia University, and the University of Vienna. He was president of the American Psychological Association in 1896.
When war broke out in 1914, Somerset Maugham was dispatched by the British Secret Service to Switzerland under the guise of completing a play. Multilingual, knowledgeable about many European countries, and a celebrated writer, Maugham had the perfect cover, and the assignment appealed to his love of romance, and of the ridiculous. The stories collected in Ashenden are rooted in Maugham's own experiences as an agent, reflecting the ruthlessness and brutality of espionage, its intrigue and treachery, as well as its absurdity.
"Dryly witty, with a splinter of ice at its heart"
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.
"Sending it, back"
New doctor Andrew Manson looks forward to his post in a Welsh mining community, but he finds practicing medicine in such primitive conditions very different from his training. He makes friends, but also enemies. First published in 1937, this book was groundbreaking in its treatment of the contentious theme of medical ethics. It is credited with laying the foundation in Great Britain for the introduction of the Nation Health Service a decade later.