Summary: For his Royal Highness Klaus Heinrich, prince of a small German duchy, life....+
For his Royal Highness Klaus Heinrich, prince of a small German duchy, life means servitude to traditional ducal functions--until he meets the independent-spirited and liberal-minded American Miss Spoelmann. During the course of his unorthodox and quixotically tender wooing, Heinrich is forced to reach into unknown depths of his personality and discover the real meaning of the word ‘duty’.
Peopled with a range of characters from aristocrat to artisan, Royal Highness provides a microcosmic view of Europe before the Great War. Mann’s charming fable of a decaying, stratified society rejuvenated by modern forces illustrates what he regarded as a universal truth: that ripeness and death are necessary conditions for rebirth.
Summary: Alexandre Dumas brings an extraordinary period of history to life in this exciting....+
Alexandre Dumas brings an extraordinary period of history to life in this exciting period romance.
It is the twilight of the reign of King Charles IX, and France is dominated by religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. King Charles’ sister, Marguerite, daughter of staunch Catholics Henri II and Catherine de Medici, is set to marry the Protestant Henri de Navarre. Their marriage sets off a series of conspiracies between the Catholics and the Protestants in a dangerous and breathtaking game for power.
From the mysterious murder of Henri de Navarre’s mother, cleverly plotted by the evil Catherine de Medici, to the notorious Saint Bartholomew Massacre, which killed thousands of Protestants lured to Paris by the wedding, Queen Margot is full of suspense, intrigue, betrayals, and daring escapes. At the center of it all are the good-hearted Marguerite and Henri, perfect political allies with fascinating love lives.
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: Padraic Colum’s classic retelling combines the immortal stories from Homer’s....+
Padraic Colum’s classic retelling combines the immortal stories from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey into one glorious saga of heroism and magical adventure. Come voyage to ancient Greece with Achilles who, guided by the gods, seeks vengeance on the Trojans. And follow Odysseus on his perilous journey on the sea—through the land of the Cyclopes, past Circe the Enchantress, the terrible Charybdis, and the six-headed serpent Scylla.
Young readers will delight in these accessible tales of action and adventure.
Summary: Mark Robarts, a young vicar, is newly arrived in the village of Framley. With....+
Mark Robarts, a young vicar, is newly arrived in the village of Framley. With ambitions to further his career, he seeks connections in the county’s high society. He is soon preyed upon by a local member of parliament to guarantee a substantial loan, which Mark in a moment of weakness agrees to--despite knowing the man is a notorious debtor--and which brings him to the brink of ruin. He must face the awful reality this loss will bring his family.
Meanwhile, Mark’s sister, Lucy, is deeply in love with Lord Lufton, the son of the lofty Lady Lufton. Lord Lufton has proposed, but Lady Lufton is against the marriage, preferring that her son choose the coldly beautiful Griselda Grantly.
The novel will conclude with four happy marriages, including one involving Doctor Thorne, the hero of the preceding book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series.
One of Trollope's most popular novels, Framely Parsonage depicts nineteenth-century country life beautifully, crafted with acute insight into human nature.
Summary: Anthony Trollope once said, “A novel should give a picture of common life....+
Anthony Trollope once said, “A novel should give a picture of common life enlivened by humor and sweetened by pathos.” Trollope admirably fulfills his own criteria in this charming third novel in the Chronicles of Barsetshire.
When Doctor Thomas Thorne adopts his niece, Mary, he chooses to keep secret her illegitimate birth as he introduces her to the best local social circles. There she meets and falls in love with Frank Gresham, heir to a vastly mortgaged estate. With such a deeply depleted fortune, Frank is obliged to find a wealthy wife. And so, at the behest of his mother, Mary is banished and Frank proposes to woman deemed financially appropriate, despite his unfailing love for Mary.
Only Doctor Thorne knows that Mary is to inherit a large legacy that will make her acceptable to the otherwise disapproving middle-class society to which Frank belongs. The question is, will he reveal the secret before it’s too late?
Where fiery passion fails, understated English virtues of patience, persistence, and good humor prevail in this most appealing of Trollope’s novels.
Summary: This magnificent sequel to The Warden satirizes the struggle for ascendancy....+
This magnificent sequel to The Warden satirizes the struggle for ascendancy among the clergy of a cathedral city as they contend for each newly vacant post within the archdiocese. The contest for power is between Archdeacon Grantly and his followers, who favor high-church tendencies, and the new bishop and his followers, with their distinctly low-church preferences. Speaking loudly and cleverly for the latter is the ambitious Mr. Obadiah Slope, championed by Mrs. Proudie and the newcomers. Each wishes to become the dominant voice in the quiet diocese of Barchester, but their antics, including romantic ones, reveal that their priorities are more social and political than spiritual or moral. Their intrigues and misunderstandings entwine through the lives of many memorable characters and provide a humorous backdrop for an exploration of the clash between old and new ways in Victorian England.
Summary: One of the greatest prose writers and social commentators of the twentieth....+
One of the greatest prose writers and social commentators of the twentieth century, Aldous Huxley here introduces us to a delightfully cynical, comic, and severe group of artists and intellectuals engaged in the most freethinking and modern kind of talk imaginable. Poetry, occultism, ancestral history, and Italian primitive painting are just a few of the subjects competing for discussion among the amiable cast of eccentrics drawn together at Crome, an intensely English country manor.
When the quirky group has gathered for the house party, Henry Wimbush, the owner and self-appointed historian of the estate, relates Crome’s history; apocalypse is prophesied, and a young, sensitive poet suffers from unrequited love. This stunning satire of the fads and fashions of the time is not to be missed.
Summary: Theodore Gumbril, a mild young Oxford tutor, has become thoroughly dismayed....+
Theodore Gumbril, a mild young Oxford tutor, has become thoroughly dismayed by the formality of college life and the staid British institutions of learning. An impetuous need for celebration, even rebellion, possesses him. He and his bohemian companions embark on wild and daring “bacchanalian” adventures that steer them resolutely away from stifling conventions of behavior, charging them for the first time with an exuberant vitality and lust for life. A sardonic and outspoken novel, Antic Hay unfolds its polemical theme against the backdrop of London’s post-war nihilistic Bohemia. This is Huxley at his biting, brilliant best--a novel charged with excitement and loud with satiric laughter at conventional morality and stuffy people everywhere.
Summary: Man’s Search for Meaning is the chilling yet inspirational story of Viktor....+
Man’s Search for Meaning is the chilling yet inspirational story of Viktor Frankl’s struggle to hold on to hope during the unspeakable horrors of his years as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. Through every waking moment of his ordeal, Frankl’s training as a psychiatrist lent him a remarkable perspective on the psychology of survival. As a result of these experiences, Dr. Frankl developed a revolutionary approach to psychotherapy known as logotherapy. At the core of his theory is the belief that man’s primary motivational force is his search for meaning. Frankl’s assertion that “the will to meaning” is the basic motivation for human life has forever changed the way we understand our humanity in the face of suffering. This revised and updated version includes a new postscript: “The Case for a Tragic Optimism.”
Summary: Emma Bovary is a sensuous, sentimental young woman whose romantic ideals make....+
Emma Bovary is a sensuous, sentimental young woman whose romantic ideals make her dissatisfied with her humdrum married life. Attempting to escape into an exciting world of passion and dreams, she drifts into sordid affairs with Rodolphe Boulanger and Léon Dupuis. The first of these lovers, an older man, dominates the affair, while the second, inexperienced and young, is dominated. The eventual collapse of Emma’s romantic dreams is inevitable, and her disillusionment leads ultimately to her doom. A brilliant psychological portrait, Madame Bovary searingly depicts the human mind in search of transcendence. Acclaimed as a masterpiece upon its publication in 1857, it catapulted Flaubert to the ranks of the world's greatest novelists and ushered in a new age of realism in literature.
Summary: Little Amy Dorrit was born in debtor’s prison, where her father, an aristocrat....+
Little Amy Dorrit was born in debtor’s prison, where her father, an aristocrat by birth, has been an inmate for the past twenty years. Though her father is too proud to acknowledge their reduced status, Amy secretly works as a seamstress to support her family. In this way she meets and befriends Arthur, her employer’s son, who wants to help.
When Arthur uncovers an unknown inheritance due to Mr. Dorrit, the family is finally freed from prison. Newly wealthy, they travel to Italy, where Mr. Dorrit instructs his children to sever old connections and learn the ways of the upper class. But leaving their past behind proves not to be so easy.
Meanwhile, their benefactor, Arthur, falls on hard times himself when he becomes the victim of a gigantic financial fraud. When he next meets Little Dorrit, their places are reversed: Arthur is imprisoned in the Marshalsea, too ashamed of his reduced status to declare his love. But to Little Dorrit, love has always transcended class.
A masterly evocation of the state and psychology of imprisonment, Little Dorrit is one of the supreme works of Dickens’ maturity.
Summary: Bleak House opens in a London shrouded by fog--a fog that swirls most densely....+
Bleak House opens in a London shrouded by fog--a fog that swirls most densely about the Court of Chancery, where the obscure case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce lies lost in endless litigation, slowly devouring an inheritance in legal costs.
Against this ominous background, Dickens’ rich tapestry of a novel weaves together the fortunes and desires of several characters whose fates are tied to the case: Ada and Richard, two young orphans who stand to inherit and wish to marry when they do; the worthy John Jarndyce, their voluntary guardian while the case is pending; and Esther Summerson, Jarndyce’s protégée, whose romance is complicated by torn loyalties and whose heritage is shrouded in mystery and scandal. This darkly comic portrait of London society is often regarded as Dickens’ best.
Summary: Dickens’ first historical novel is set in 1780s England at the time of the....+
Dickens’ first historical novel is set in 1780s England at the time of the Gordon Riots. In a case of mistaken identity, Barnaby Rudge--a pale half-wit with long red hair who dresses all in green and carries a large raven on his back--is arrested as the leader of a mob of anti-Catholic rioters. He is condemned to death on the gallows, but an upright locksmith named Gabriel Varden comes to his aid.
Set beneath the cloud of an unsolved murder, this classic tale of treachery and forbidden love is often overlooked by present-day readers. Nevertheless, Dickens provides another memorable cast of characters, including the dull-witted, tyrannical John Willet, Dennis the Hangman, and Hugh the savage ostler.
Summary: In London in 1735, eleven-year-old Forrest Harper is living with his family....+
In London in 1735, eleven-year-old Forrest Harper is living with his family in the Tower of London. There he helps his father tend the ravens and guard the prisoners. Still, life is lonely. When vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest is delighted. Perhaps now he can prove his courage and impress the local bullies who torment him. His happiness is short-lived, though, when the Harpers are only given custody of Maddy, a Scottish Rebel’s daughter, for a rebel in a dress will surely make Forrest a laughingstock.
As the days pass, Maddy’s beauty and warmth and her touching stories of life in Scotland seal a friendship between them. But when she is slated for execution, Forrest is faced with a horrifying choice: commit treason and help her escape, or obey the law and allow his innocent friend to be executed.
Summary: Join Jordy, Alex, and Chloe as they cross the portal from our world to a strange....+
Join Jordy, Alex, and Chloe as they cross the portal from our world to a strange and wonderful place, accessible for just a moment through the trapdoor of the attic in their family home. From hat-stand forests to towering hills of old musical instruments, deserts of old books, and a great water-tank lake, the vast continent they stumble upon is one of limitless surprises--and that’s before they meet the inhabitants. The strange clans of small, lumpen people live in homes constructed from all manner of found things and drive vehicles powered by old sewing-machine parts. It is against this remarkable backdrop that the three children will embark on a spellbinding adventure to recover a prized possession, save a life, and--somehow--find a way back home. A story of courage, loyalty, and friendship; of Browsers, Shadow-Tangles, and Tatterdermalions; of incredible landscapes, ingenious devices, and cunning plot twists; Attica has a richness and depth that will delight listeners of all ages.
Summary: One of the world’s most famous intellectual ghost stories, The Turn of the....+
One of the world’s most famous intellectual ghost stories, The Turn of the Screw is a haunting tale of suspected supernatural possession. A governess at a country house claims that Miles and Flora, two orphaned children in her care, are being controlled by spirits for some evil purpose. No one else can see the ghosts, and the children themselves are silent. Are they being dominated by spectral forces, or are they hiding something? Is the governess simply paranoid, or is something else going on? With its possibly ambiguous content and powerful narrative technique, the story challenges the listener to determine if the unnamed governess is correctly reporting events or is instead an unreliable neurotic with an overheated imagination.
Summary: Dumas continues his Musketeer Romances with a final trilogy. The Vicomte de....+
Dumas continues his Musketeer Romances with a final trilogy. The Vicomte de Bragelonne opens an epic adventure which continues with Louise de la Vallière and reaches its climax in The Man in the Iron Mask.
It is May 1660, and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Vallière. Meanwhile, d’Artagnan learns that his old comrades have great projects in hand. Athos seeks the restoration of Charles II, while Aramis, with Porthos in tow, has a secret plan involving a masked prisoner and the fortification of the island of Belle-Ile. D’Artagnan finds a thread leading him to the French court, the banks of the Tyne, the beaches of Holland, and the dunes of Brittany.
Never short on swashbuckling action, breathtaking suspense, and romantic intrigue, Dumas’s classic works are must-haves for any collection.