With the publication of 100 classics in Penguin’s new collection, there will be something new to be discovered among the big names among The Penguin English Library.
For Hardy, the creator of some of the most celebrated heroines, including Tess and Bathsheba, there are other hidden gems waiting to be explored in this series.
Two on a Tower is one of these gems and with a constellation motif against a dark blue jacket, this edition invites you to explore the galaxies with our two main characters, Lady Constantine and Swithin St Cleve. With her husband lost in Africa, Lady Constantine’s solitude leads her up the tower steps and there she finds comfort in the stars and planets that surround her, and the young man who holds the passion she craves.
Something of a ‘star crossed lovers’ story it isn’t long before the twists, Hardy is master of, turn up secrets with devastating consequences.
It is always off the beaten track when you discover the most exciting parts of any town or city and London is no exception. For the keen book worm there isn’t a city better for discovering the most amazing book shops away from the tourist areas of Oxford Street and Lecister Square.
Persephone Books is not just a beautiful shop but a publishers of both fiction and non fiction, perfect for those who have devoured the better known classics and are willing to take up some lesser heard gems.
Like an Aladan’s Cave of books, hours could be spent diliberating over which treasures to purchase and I only could make a decision with promises that I would return in the near future.
With their distinctive gery covers and beautiful end papers I finally decided on The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow by Mrs Oliphant, The Carlyles at Home by Thea Holme, and E.M. Delafield’s Consequences
Get your copies by clicking on the book covers below and be sure to visit Persephone’s website if not their beautiful shop.
These days it isn’t difficult to go far before you can find a recommended read, from award winners, book club promotions, online reviews to sites like goodreads which let you scour other’s reading shelves. Yet all this can sometimes become a bit overwhelming.
I was inspired at the beginning of this year by a Lady who is challenging to an astonishing, 1001 novels to read before you die. A reading list which would faze most book enthusiasts.
Leaving the 1001 book list to the professionals I decided to do a search for a more reserved 100 reads and there doesn’t seem to be too many of them. The Guardian and Telegraph both have similar lists which although provide variety are quite high brow ranging from the first novel ever published to the Bible. Not exactly the list I’d been enthused to work through. Interestingly, when the BBC put together a list based on the nation’s favourite reads many of them were children’s books in addition to the classic and cult favourites. Compiled nearly 10 years ago, I wonder how different this list would look today. Just think of the fantastic books that we have been reading over the past decade.
As this is a site dedicated to British writing, I propose a new list pulled from some of my own personal choices, award winners, world book night choices and book club favourites. Not to mention your suggestions which have been flooding in on twitter. If you have a firm British favourite you want to see on this list then please leave your top picks below or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter .
Ever since reading the secret garden as a child, I held a fascination with stories set in manor houses. Not only do these national treasures create the most splenderd and luxurious backdrop, but also, the stories are usually full of mystery and drama. To celebrate some of Britain’s grand estates, we have compiled a top 10 list of books set in manor houses.
1. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Who could forget the first line? “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Even Elizabeth’s reluctance to Mr Darcy must have wavered when she saw Pemberley.
3. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
A house beyond a causeway holding a dark secret. Destined to send a shiver down your spine. The ultimate Gothic mansion.
4.The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Settlefield
Debut novel for Settlefield, and a good one at that. A house with a disturbed family and as we follow them through the twists, and turns, we learn the full secret of the tragedy. Full of drama from a unique writing talent.
5. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
A character in itself, Brideshead holds a silent control the lives of those who live in it.
6. Jeeves and Wooster by P.G Woodhouse
Whether in a stylsih apartment or at a country spoil, Jeeves and Wocester are gauranteed to delight.
7. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis
Well, the Professor did have a wardrobe to a different world in his house; you have to admit that’s pretty impressive!
8. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
A historical novel set in the 20s with two sisters whoes secrets catch up with them. Full of drama, this makes a good Sunday afternoon read.
9. The Forsyth Saga by John Galsworthy
The new house being built for Irene is meant to save her marriage but does quite the opposite.
10. Atonement by Ian McEwan
A dinner at a country house results in tragic circumstances for everyone involved.
It is always exciting getting a parcel of books through the post so I thought I’d share my recent purchases which are addint to my personal library. So what have I chosen to read this week?
The Book I Haven’t Got Round To– I’ve seen all the TV adaptations of E.M Forster usually starring a young Helena Bonham Carter and a cast of great British actors (Wings of a Dove has to be one of my favourites). Yet I’ve never got round to reading his novels. To right this wrong, I have a copy of A Room with a View and with just under 200 pages, it won’t take long to start moving through the Forster catalogue. Good job Howards End is on its way.
The Recommendation – I have heard so often that Evelyn Waugh’s greatest novel wasn’t Brideshead Revisited but actually his debut, Decline and Fall. The story of ‘misfits, rascals and fools’ at Oxford University. One of the greatest comic novels ever written or so I have been told. Only time will tell on that one.
The True Story – Always a fan of historical biographies, award winning Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard explores the story of Caroline, Emily, Louise and Sarah Lennox whose facinating and turbulent lives spanned the Georgian period of English and Irish history. Sometimes the best stories are the real ones.
Come back for the reviews soon and get your copies by clicking on the book cover.
Love goes out to Penguin for producing these beautiful Austen classics perfect for pockets everywhere. Not only would they serve for a great present, their handy sized format means that you never have to be without your favourite characters.
For many years I have tried to get friends who have always assumed they wouldn’t understand the language or that the pace woudl be too slow, to just give the stories a chance. Now I can slip a book into their pocket or handbag on the off chance they will pick it up in a spare moment. How many converts do you think I’ll get?
With gorgeous artwork covering some of the best stories to come out of Britain who could resist? Click on the cover of your favourite novel to add to your collection.
If nothing else, the BBC is renowned, world over, for their engaging and sumptuous drama productions. They were, after all, the ones who brought Colin Firth to our screens as Mr Darcy. Enough said I think.
So what other novels have the BBC been picking from the book shelves to entertain us this year? A good dowsing of Period Dramas are always a welcome edition to the (cough) talent (cough) shows. We have already enjoyed the harsh realities of life in post war South Riding and the edgy Victorian, The Crimson Petal and the White.
Following the success of previous dramatisations of Sarah Waters’ bestsellers (Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith) the BBC return to the author’s back catalogue for Night Watch. A story of survival in 1940s London starring Anna Maxwell-Marting (South Riding, Bleak House) as ambulance driver, Kay Langrish.
Moving to the classics we will be treated to not one but two Dickens’s adaptations this year. The ambitious dramatisation of Edwin Drood will have Dickens’s fans poised at the ready waiting to see how writer, Gwyneth Hughes, will complete Dickens’ final and incomplete novel for BBC4.
Less exciting, yet sure to be still appreciated, the BBC are turning to Great Expectations with a brand new version, little over a decade since the last production staring Ioan Gruffedd and Justine Waddell aired. Its a wonder why the BBC are trying to improve on perfection especially when there are so many ‘Classic Novel’ treasures crying out for their chance to be adapted. Scheduled for Christmas, it will certainly bring in the viewers and since it is the time of ‘good will’ and repeats for TV, it won’t be completely out of place.
Time for something brand new with Case Histories adapted from Kate Atkinson’s bestseller of the same title. Jackson Brodie, a private detective, solves murders and mysteries long since abandoned from the 70s. With intertwining plots and engaging characters this will no doubt be a huge hit for fans and those not familiar yet with Atkinson’s work.
Although there hasn’t been much information released yet regarding the upcoming adaptation of Sebastian Faulk’s Birdsong you’ll no doubt hear a big ‘about time too’ from fans of the book after its release back in 1993 with talks of film versions constantly falling through since. Eddie Redmayne (The Other Boleyn Girl) and French actress Clemence Poesy (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) will take the leads of Stephen and Isabelle in this World War One epic. Tissues at the ready, you have been warned!
Overall it looks an exciting year from the BBC Drama department and if you can’t wait for the productions themselves then get stuck into one of the books today. The difficulty being which one will you read first?
Who would have thought the quiet seaside town of Tilling in 1930’s Britain would be quite an adventure. Elizabeth Mapp and Emmeline Lucas (Lucia) are far from the quiet sort, seeking to reign supreme socially and respectably over the residents.
Lucia coveys grace, style and intelligence even if, the more dowdy Mapp, is the only one who can see through it. As they both scheme and plot to outdo each other an accidental encounter during a storm leads to a stint at sea on a table top. An unforgettable part of the book and a great climax for all the fighting, but will this finally end the feud? Don’t count on it.
Benson demonstrates his power of weaving a good tale with plots unravelling throughout the book from squabbling over garden produce to sabotaging an art fair.
With the faithful Georgie, who won’t be parted from Lucia’s side, to the gossiping Diva who encourages Mapp’s antics, all the colourful characters of Tilling secretly enjoy watching the competition unfold.
Mapp & Lucia has a quaint English feel about it similar to Woodhouse’s Jeeves and Wooster. Full of humour, it is a joy to read and perfect accompaniment to lazy days in the garden. Before you know it, you’ll be saying ‘au reservoir’ every time you leave a room.
A new four part series on BBC two takes us on a journey through the heart of the British novel. Bestselling author Sebastian Faulks explores the greatest characters of literature from the castaway which captured the nations imagination with this new literary genre, Robinson Crusoe to the infamous Mr Darcy, to tragic heroines Tess D’urbeveille to terrifying baddies like Fagin. Faulks sets out to demonstrate how these much loved characters and their stories have shaped our world.
As the episodes are broken into a theme per episode; heroes, lovers, snobs and villains, we can only hope Faulks doesn’t stick to one label each but instead, explores the multi-dimensional characters that they are, resulting in them being so mesmerizing.
Nevertheless, bookworms will welcome the opportunity for a Saturday prime time slot dedicated to the literature which inspires not only passion and discussion today as it did from its first publication, but inspiration for others, even if it is only the writers of Eastenders.
Click on the cover to get your copy of Faulks on Fiction which accompanies the series which begins on 5th February, 9.00pm BBC2.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the publication of D.H Lawrence’s most shocking novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Click on the cover to get your special edition to read this weekend. Take a look at Penguin’s mini site dedicated to this fantastic novel where you can view the art work that has graced the book’s cover, read the various reactions from readers and critics since it’s publication and discover the facinating story that unfolded behind the book.