First conceived during a rainy summer holiday in the Highlands of Scotland in an attempt to amuse his stepson, Treasure Island began with the map. Young Lloyd Osbourne had drawn a crude version of an island, and Stevenson, looking over the boy's shoulder, began to elaborate, christening various curves and smudges the famed names of Skeleton Island and Spyglass Hill and finally adding the three red crosses marking the buried treasure.
In this world of bribes, vendettas and swindling, in which heiresses are gambled and won, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury is 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix has 'the instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte - the colossal figure who dominates the book - is a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel... a bloated swindler... a vile city ruffian'.
In this work Horace Rumpole returns to delight us with seven new cases. We find our hero jousting with the Devil, being wooed by a beautiful violin player, and even up before the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Bar Council.
The first of Trollope's Barsetshire novels, The Warden concerns the moral dilemma of the Reverend Septimus Harding, who finds himself at the centre of a bitter conflict between defenders of Church privilege and the reformers of the mid-Victorian period.
"Volume one in a perfect series"
Who owns the Eustace Diamonds? Lizzie Eustace claims that Sir Florian Eustace, her late husband, gave them to her. But Mr Camperdown, the family solicitor, insists that they are an heirloom, to be passed down from generation to generation. Lizzie is both beautiful and clever, yet Mr Camperdown believes her to be a scheming liar. And Mr Camperdown is right! The battle for the diamonds rages until a robbery intervenes and they disappear. Or do they...?
"The Eustace Diamonds"
Plantagenet Palliser, the Duke of Omnium and former Prime Minister of England, is widowed and wracked by grief. Struggling to adapt to life without his beloved Lady Glencora, he works hard to guide and support his three adult children. Palliser soon discovers, however, that his own plans for them are very different from their desires. Sent down from university in disgrace, his two sons quickly begin to run up gambling debts.
"Trollope and Timothy West perfectly matched ..."
In the fourth of the 'Palliser' stories, Trollope follows Phineas Finn's return to the dangerous world of Westminster politics. When his political rival is murdered, Phineas is thrown under suspicion and eventually finds himself standing trial at the Old Bailey. The situation is complicated by the presence of two women in his life: his old flame Lady Laura, whose estranged husband is determined to destroy Phineas's reputation, and the wealthy and enigmatic widow, Madame Max.
Trollope inextricably binds together the issues of parliamentary election and marriage, of politics and privacy. The values and aspirations of the governing stratum of Victorian society are ruthlessly examined and none remains unscathed. But it is above all on the predicament of women that Trollope focuses. 'What should a woman do with her life?' asks Alice Vavasor of herself, and this theme is echoed by every other woman in the novel.
In Phineas Finn, the second of the Palliser novels, Trollope balances the rival demands of public and private life, entangling political ambitions with the experiences of love. Phineas Finn, an irresistible but penniless young Irish barrister enters Parliament and comes to London leaving behind him an Irish sweetheart, Mary Flood-Jones. In London, Phineas wins friends on all sides and is admitted to high society.
"As good as it gets."
Jean Paul Sartre said, 'Hell is other people'. But, as Satan will tell you, Hell is actually a fiery, unendingly cruel domain where Oliver Reed can never quite catch the barman's eye and Yves St Laurent is forced to wear a donkey jacket. But Hell is about to become more hellish for Satan himself (Andy Hamilton). Not only is the historian Edith Barrington (Annette Crosbie) taking for ever to write his biography, An Angel Misunderstood, but everything is thrown into confusion when a dog turns up.
Plantaganet Palliser, Prime Minister of England - a man of power and prestige, with all the breeding and inherited wealth that goes with it - is appalled at the inexorable rise of Ferdinand Lopez. An exotic impostor, seemingly from nowhere, Lopez has society at his feet, while well-connected ladies vie with each other to exert influence on his behalf - even Palliser's own wife, Lady Glencora.
"This is now the full book. Bang up to date too."
In this, the last of the Barsetshire novels, many familiar characters appear, but the mood of the novel is darker and more uneasy than in earlier volumes.
To look back at the past is to understand the present. In this vivid account of over 4,000 years of British history, Simon Schama takes us on an epic journey which encompasses the very beginnings of the nation's identity, when the first settlers landed on Orkney.
"Not good for a casual listen"
Barchester Towers, Trollope's most popular novel, is the second of the six Chronicles of Barsetshire. Trollope continues the story, begun in The Warden, of Mr Harding and his daughter Eleanor.
"West is best"
Frank Gresham, son of the impoverished squire of Greshambury, has fallen in love with penniless Mary Thorne. Despite the promptings of his family to consider a Miss Dunstable, heiress to a fortune, Frank's affections persist, and the humane Doctor Thorne, as Mary's protector, must confront the prejudices of the mid-Victorian society.
"Hooray! Real Trollope"
Lily is the niece of Squire Dale, a morose and rather unimaginative old bachelor who lives at the 'Great House' at Allington. His sister-in-law lives at the adjacent 'Small House', with her two daughters Lily and Belle, and the action centres on the relations between the two houses and on the romantic entanglements of the two girls.
"Lily & co"
Can it be right to persist in a bigamous marriage? Mr Peacocke, a Classical scholar, has come to Broughtonshire with his beautiful American wife to live as a schoolmaster. But when the blackmailing brother of her first husband - a reprobate from Louisiana - appears at the school gates, their dreadful secret is revealed and the county is scandalised.
"Dr Wortle's School"
In the fourth of the Barsetshire Chronicles, the values of a Victorian gentleman, the young clergyman Mark Robarts, are put to the test. Through a combination of naivety and social ambition, Robarts is compromised and brought to the brink of ruin. Trollope tells his story with great compassion, offsetting the drama with his customary humour. Like all the Barsetshire novels, it is an extraordinarily evocative picture of everyday life in 19th-century England.
"Everything an audiobook should be"
Award-winning historian Simon Schama completes his monumental three-volume history of Britain, which accompanies the acclaimed television epic. In The Fate of Empire, Schama illuminates the period of British history from 1770-2000 through a variety of historical themes, including the advance of technology and industry, women's increasing role in society and the burgeoning British Empire.
"schama master class"
In a collection that is wise, funny, clever and moving, Julian Barnes has created characters whose passions and longings are made all the stronger by the knowledge that, for them, time is almost at an end.
"Bit of a lemon"