Summary: When a Roman ship is wrecked on the coast of Britain, Beric, the infant son....+
When a Roman ship is wrecked on the coast of Britain, Beric, the infant son of a Roman soldier, is the only survivor. Beric grows up with a Briton tribe, but to his foster people he remained an alien, one of the Red Crests. So when bad times come, the tribe holds him responsible and casts him out.
Rejected by the only life he knew, the boy turns to his own people, but Rome too rejects him. Lost, bewildered, a captive in his father’s land, he escaped from slavery only to be captured again and condemned to labor on the rowing benches of a galley of the Rhenus Fleet. Will Beric ever find ultimate happiness?
Rosemary Sutcliff provides a fine and exciting story with a background of Roman Britain that rings true from the first page to the last.
Summary: Rob Roy MacGregor is the romantic outlaw who comes alive in Sir Walter Scott’s....+
Rob Roy MacGregor is the romantic outlaw who comes alive in Sir Walter Scott’s classic epic of the passions and struggles of the Scottish border lands.
In rich, vivid prose, Rob Roy follows the adventures of Frank Osbaldistone, who falls out of favor with his father after failing to measure up to his expectations in the world of business. Sent to stay in Scotland, Frank, an innocent, Protestant Englishman, is intrigued by the wild and noble land. He finds himself drawn to the powerful, enigmatic figure of Rob Roy who, with his passionate and fierce wife Helen, fights for justice and dignity for the Scottish people.
Twists of plot, Rob Roy’s cunning escapes, uprisings against English oppressors, and Frank’s forbidden love for a Catholic girl combine with superb period detail to make this an incomparable portrait of the highlands, a great hero, and a glorious Scottish past.
Summary: Often considered the greatest epic in any modern language, Paradise Lost tells....+
Often considered the greatest epic in any modern language, Paradise Lost tells the story of the revolt of Satan, his banishment from Heaven, and the ensuing fall of Man with his expulsion from Eden. It is a tale of immense drama and excitement, of innocence pitted against corruption, of rebellion and treachery, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. The struggle ranges across heaven, hell, and earth, as Satan and his band of rebel angels conspire against God. At the center of the conflict are Adam and Eve, motivated by all too human temptations, but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love.
Written in blank verse of unsurpassed majesty, Paradise Lost is the work of a mastermind involved in a profound search for truth.
Summary: Just before his regiment sails off to war in the Sudan, British officer Harry....+
Just before his regiment sails off to war in the Sudan, British officer Harry Feversham resigns his commission, wanting desperately to be free of his family’s proud military heritage and terrified of risking his life. He is immediately given four white feathers as symbols of cowardice, one by each of his three best friends and one by his fiancée. To disprove this grave dishonor, Harry dons an Arabian disguise and leaves for the Sudan, where he anonymously comes to the aid of his three friends, saving each of their lives. Having proven his bravery, Harry returns to England, hoping to regain the love and respect of his fiancée. This suspenseful tale movingly depicts a distinctive code of honor that was deeply valued and strongly promoted by the British during the height of their imperial power. Harry’s heroic attempts at redemption offer listeners a glimpse into a vivid array of human emotions.
Summary: In this seminal story of naval life during the Napoleonic wars, Frederick Marryat’s....+
In this seminal story of naval life during the Napoleonic wars, Frederick Marryat’s young hero embarks upon a life at sea and finds it to be a rough school indeed. Simple’s trials and triumphs, alongside his faithful mentor, Terence O’Brien, mirror Marryat’s personal experience, from the hand-to-hand combat of cutting-out missions to the devastating hurricane off St. Pierre and the mutiny aboard the Rattlesnake.
Peter Simple is a towering tale from the great age of sail, filled with keen wit, vivid characters, and gripping adventure.
Summary: Captain Frederick Marryat of the Royal Navy knew well both the thunder of the....+
Captain Frederick Marryat of the Royal Navy knew well both the thunder of the broadside and the laughter of the gun room. In Percival Keene, he takes us on a thrilling and authentic ride through the naval world of the Napoleonic wars.
This is the gripping tale of the mischievous young midshipman Percival Keene, whose adventures begin when he learns that the demanding Captain Delmar, a member of the wealthy and titled De Versely family, is actually his natural father. Stung by his father’s refusal to acknowledge him, Keene sets about to win his love and the family fortune. To do so, he must survive a shipwreck and capture by murderous pirates, fight duels of honor with his fellow officers, and battle against the French.
Summary: This retelling in prose of twenty of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays was....+
This retelling in prose of twenty of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays was originally published just for children. Keeping Shakespeare’s own words whenever possible but making the plots and language easily understandable, this very listenable collection has entertained and informed generations of adults as well. With such classic stories as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Hamlet, and more, Shakespeare’s most memorable characters come to life anew as magicians and fairies, fools and kings weave their magic, mischief, and madness.
Summary: Hardy’s harrowing novel of seduction and abandonment introduced his most....+
Hardy’s harrowing novel of seduction and abandonment introduced his most memorable tragic heroine, Tess, whose vivid, breathing life was remarkable even for the author: “I have not been able to put on paper all that she is, or was, to me.”
On her morning journey to earn money for her impoverished family, Tess’s horse has an accident, forcing to go to some newly-rich relatives to seek assistance. There, she is vigorously pursued by Alec, who corners her in a field one night and takes advantage of her. After bearing a child who quickly dies, Tess meets and falls is love with Angel, a minister’s son who is infatuated with the image of Tess as the pure country maid. But when he learns the truth of her past, he shuns his new bride and leaves Tess once again to fend for herself in a world where she is only valued for her uses to others.
Summary: The three novels that make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social....+
The three novels that make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social power of the commercial upper-middle class Forsyte family through three generations, beginning in Victorian London during the 1880s and ending in the early 1920s. Galsworthy's masterly narrative examines not only their fortunes but also the wider developments within society, particularly the changing position of women.
The Forsyte Saga is a sequence of novels comprising The Man of Property (1906), In Chancery (1920), and To Let (1921) with two interludes, "Indian Summer of a Forsyte" (1918) and "Awakening", published together in 1922.
The saga begins with Soames Forsyte, a successful solicitor who buys land at Robin Hill on which to build a house for his wife Irene and future family. Eventually, the Forsyte family begins to disintegrate when Timothy Forsyte, the last of the old generation, dies at the age of 100.
In these novels, John Galsworthy documented a departed way of life, that of the affluent middle class that ruled England before the 1914 war. The class is criticized on account of its possessiveness, but there is also nostalgia because Galsworthy, as a man born into the class, could also appreciate its virtues.
Originally published as five books between 1906 and 1921.
Summary: Silas Marner, a gentle linen weaver, is framed by his best friend for a heinous....+
Silas Marner, a gentle linen weaver, is framed by his best friend for a heinous theft. Exiled from his small community, Marner retreats into bitter and miserly reclusion, caring only for the gold he receives for his work. When his small treasure horde is stolen, Marner feels betrayed by life yet again--until one fateful New Year’s Eve, an abandoned golden-haired child appears mysteriously on his doorstep. Through his unselfish love for this child, Marner’s heart reawakens to spiritual rebirth and true happiness. George Eliot shows how good character is rewarded in this ageless, heartwarming novel of redemption.
Summary: "There is no book of mine about which I more thoroughly feel that I swear by....+
"There is no book of mine about which I more thoroughly feel that I swear by every sentence as having been written with my best blood." Thus wrote George Eliot about Romola, the book which is central in her career as a novelist and amongst her most colorful, fluent, and persuasive works.
Set in Florence in 1492, a time of great political and religious turmoil, Eliot’s novel blends vivid fictional characters with historical figures such as Savonarola, Machiavelli, and the Medicis. When Romola, the virtuous daughter of a blind scholar, marries Tito Melema, a charismatic young Greek, she is bound to a man whose escalating betrayals threaten to destroy all that she holds dear. Profoundly inspired by Savonarola’s teachings, then crushed by the religious leader’s ultimate failure, Romola finds her salvation in noble self-sacrifice.
Summary: Dorothea Brooke is a thoughtful and idealistic young woman determined to make....+
Dorothea Brooke is a thoughtful and idealistic young woman determined to make a difference with her life. Enamored of a man whom she believes is setting this example, she unwittingly traps herself into a loveless marriage. Her parallel is Tertius Lydgate, a visionary young doctor from the city, whose passionate ambition to spread the new science of medicine to the village is complicated by his love for the wrong woman.
Featuring a panoply of complex, brilliantly drawn characters from every walk of life, Eliot’s masterpiece is a rich and teeming portrait of provincial life in Victorian England. Yet her characters’ struggles to retain their moral integrity in the midst of temptation and tragedy are strikingly modern in their painful ironies. The incomparable psychological insight of Middlemarch was pivotal in the shaping of twentieth-century literary realism.
Summary: One of Dickens’ most popular novels, Oliver Twist tells the story of a young....+
One of Dickens’ most popular novels, Oliver Twist tells the story of a young workhouse orphan who escapes into the mean backstreets of Victorian London. There, he is thrust into a den of thieves where some of Dickens’ most depraved villains preside: the incorrigible Artful Dodger, the barbarous bully Bill Sikes, and the terrible Fagin, whose knavery threatens to send them all to the gallows. A novel with autobiographical overtones, this was the first of Dickens’ works to realistically portray London’s impoverished underworld and to illustrate his belief that poverty leads to crime. At the heart of the drama, however, is Oliver, the orphan whose unsullied goodness leads him to salvation, and who represents Dickens’ belief in the principle of good triumphing at last.
Summary: No writer is more identified with the modern idea of Christmas than Charles....+
No writer is more identified with the modern idea of Christmas than Charles Dickens. In some ways, Dickens helped define the holiday that we now celebrate by immortalizing it as a time of warmth and sharing, with an emphasis on family and friends.
Dickens wrote all the stories presented here during the 1850s as contributions to the special Christmas issues of Household Words, the weekly magazine he founded and edited. Included are fictional sketches verging on the autobiographical, recollections of childhood, reflections on past holidays and old friends, as well as tales of misunderstandings and lost opportunities. They reaffirm the virtue of nurturing our traditions and offer a master storyteller's vision of the real meaning of Christmas.
Summary: This sinister masterpiece was Dickens’ last completed novel and perhaps his....+
This sinister masterpiece was Dickens’ last completed novel and perhaps his ultimate vision of a dark, macabre London and the corrupting power of money. Opening with a father and daughter scavenging for corpses on the Thames, this chilling tale unfolds around drownings, disguises and doubles, violence, murder, and triumphant love.
Young John Harmon, presumed killed on his return home to England, is very much alive. The heir to a dust merchant’s fortune, he goes to work under an assumed name for his father’s current heirs, the amiable, elderly Boffins--who are about to be blackmailed by the unscrupulous one-legged Wegg.
So begins the intrigue in a novel that is quintessentially Dickensian in flavor--in its grotesque caricatures, its rich symbolism, and in the astonishing realism of its heroine, Bella Wilfer, one of Dickens’ most splendid female characters.
Summary: The most gorgeously theatrical of all Dickens’s novels, Nicholas Nickleby....+
The most gorgeously theatrical of all Dickens’s novels, Nicholas Nickleby follows the delightful adventures of a hearty young hero in nineteenth-century England. Nicholas, a gentleman's son fallen upon hard times, must set out to make his way in the world. His journey is accompanied by some of the most swaggering scoundrels and unforgettable eccentrics in Dickens’s pantheon.
From the dungeon-like Yorkshire boys’ boarding school run by the cruel Wackford Squeers to the high-spirited stage of Vincent Crummles’s extraordinary acting troupe, Nicholas Nickleby is a triumph of the imagination, bursting with color, humor, and poignant social commentary.
Summary: Possibly the first novel in the English language, Moll Flanders is the fictional....+
Possibly the first novel in the English language, Moll Flanders is the fictional autobiography of a delightfully scandalous young female rogue. Born in Newgate Prison in seventeenth-century England, Moll is predestined to poverty and lawlessness, yet relentlessly driven to overcome her fate. Donning whatever mask suits her best in the moment, she appraises theft, prostitution, and bigamy only in terms of their profit potential, her indomitable will undaunted by her bad luck. Eventually, however, a moral sense begins to intrude. Defoe creates a narrative that brilliantly commentates on morality and self-reliance within the period in which it is set.
Summary: Chaucer’s finest work begins at the Tabard Inn, where thirty travelers of....+
Chaucer’s finest work begins at the Tabard Inn, where thirty travelers of widely varying classes and occupations are gathering to make the annual pilgrimage to Becket’s shrine at Canterbury. It is agreed that each traveler will tell four tales to help pass the time during their long journey, and that the host of the inn will reward the best storyteller with a free supper upon their return.
Thus we hear, translated into modern English, the knight’s tale, the merchant’s tale, the miller’s tale, the wife of Bath’s tale, twenty-some tales in all. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much of their individual outlooks upon life as well as what life was like in late-fourteenth-century England.
Summary: Jane Austen’s debut novel is a brilliant tragicomedy of flirtation and folly....+
Jane Austen’s debut novel is a brilliant tragicomedy of flirtation and folly in which two sisters who represent “sense” and “sensibility,” or restraint and emotionalism, experience love and heartbreak in their own separate ways. The impetuous Marianne falls passionately in love with the dashing John Willoughby and makes no secret of her affections. Meanwhile, Elinor and the mild-mannered Edward Ferras feel a mutual attraction, yet neither has the directness to acknowledge it. When it is revealed that Willoughby is in fact an unscrupulous fortune hunter and that Edward is bound by a previous commitment to another woman, each sister’s romantic hopes are dashed. As they bear their grief in their different ways, Marianne learns from Elinor’s quiet restraint, while Elinor learns the value of Marianne’s candid expression. In the end, both sisters are happily settled, having each developed a more balanced approach to life and love.