Summary: Hector Monro, writing under the pseudonym of Saki, is justly renowned for his....+
Hector Monro, writing under the pseudonym of Saki, is justly renowned for his urbane and witty short stories. His eccentric characters, humorous dialogue, and engaging domestic situations all reveal a penetrating and sometimes disturbing insight into human nature. As a quixotic tour guide, Saki leads the reader from garden party to pig sty to political convention with the ease of one who is intimately familiar with the cares and foibles of the human condition, showing us this vista of life through the well-tempered lens of his gentle, British irony.
In this definitive collection of seventy short stories, we can browse and sightsee at our leisure, cross borders of fresh insight, admire and enjoy each whimsical tale as we journey through the imaginative landscape of a truly artful writer.
Summary: Beatrix Potter’s charming stories have enchanted children for over a hundred....+
Beatrix Potter’s charming stories have enchanted children for over a hundred years. She brilliantly evokes the beauty of nature and country life, and each story brings to life characters listeners will remember and love for years to come. This collection includes eighteen favorite tales about Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Tittlemouse, and the others. Let your children share in the tradition of Beatrix Potter and her animal family, a literary treasure for generations to cherish.
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: 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: 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: 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.
Summary: Jane Austen’s first major novel, a parody of the popular literature of the....+
Jane Austen’s first major novel, a parody of the popular literature of the time, is an ironic tale of the romantic folly of men and women in pursuit of love, marriage, and money. The humorous adventures of young Catherine as she encounters "the difficulties and dangers of a six weeks' residence in Bath" lead to some of Austen's most brilliant social satire. There is Catherine’s hilarious liaison with a paragon of bad manners and boastfulness; her disastrous friendship with an unforgettably crass coquette; and a whirl of cotillion dances with their timeless mortifications. A visit to ancient Northanger Abbey, the ancestral home of the novel’s handsome hero, excites the irrepressible Catherine’s hopes of romance amid gothic horrors. But what awaits her there is a drama of a different kind, in this most youthfully exuberant and broadly comic of Jane Austen’s works.
Summary: This impressionistic novel by Virginia Woolf marks the author’s first move....+
This impressionistic novel by Virginia Woolf marks the author’s first move toward the experimentation for which she would later become recognized. Through a montage of passing images, conversations, and stream-of-consciousness monologues, it tells the story of Jacob Flanders, an idealistic and sensitive young man attempting to reconcile his love of classical culture with the chaotic reality of contemporary society. As Jacob grows from childhood into adulthood, we follow his experiences in college and in travels, in love and in war, through the perspectives and impressions of the various people in his life.
Jacob’s Room established Virginia Woolf's reputation as a highly poetic and symbolic writer who places emphasis not on plot or action but on the psychological realm of her characters. Hailed by friends such as T. S. Eliot, the book represents a turning point in the history of the English novel. Wrote E. M. Forster, “The impossible has occurred...A new type of fiction has swum into view.”
Summary: Harvey Cheyne is the pampered son of a multimillionaire who falls off an ocean....+
Harvey Cheyne is the pampered son of a multimillionaire who falls off an ocean liner and is rescued by a small fishing boat. After being punched in the nose by the captain of the vessel for smart-mouthing him, Harvey quickly learns respect, toughness, and gratitude. He steps up from self-centeredness into the difficult but fulfilling realm of self-reliance and unselfishness. A popular favorite since its first publication in 1897, the novel remains a classic story of youthful initiation and a lively tribute to the author’s famous code of bravery, loyalty, and honor among men.
Summary: Cranford is Elizabeth Gaskell’s gently comic picture of life and manners....+
Cranford is Elizabeth Gaskell’s gently comic picture of life and manners in an English country village during the 1830s. It describes the small adventures in the lives of two middle-aged sisters in reduced circumstances, Matilda and Deborah Jenkyns, who do their best to maintain their standards of propriety, decency, and kindness. At the center of the novel is Miss Matty, whose warm heart and tender ways compel affection and regard from everyone around her. Also revealed are the foibles and attributes of the pompous Mrs. Jamieson and her awesome butler, the genial Captain Brown, the loyal housemaid Martha, and others.
Using an intimate, gossipy voice that never turns sentimental, Gaskell skillfully conveys the old-fashioned habits, subtle class distinctions, and genteel poverty of the townspeople. Cranford is one of the author’s best-loved works.
Summary: In this vibrant portrait of Edwardian England and the many intricacies of class....+
In this vibrant portrait of Edwardian England and the many intricacies of class relations in English society during the turn of the century, two families with conflicting values are brought together by an inheritance dispute over a charming country house called Howards End. Sisters Margaret and Helen Schlegel and their brother Tibby place their values in civilized culture, music, literature, and conversation with their friends. Henry Wilcox and his children, Charles, Paul, and Evie, are concerned with the business side of life and distrust emotions and imagination. Through a series of romantic entanglements, disappearing wills, and sudden tragedy, the conflict over the house emerges as a symbolic struggle for England’s very future.
Regarded by many as Forster’s masterpiece, Howards End concerns the nature of class and social status and how they affect one’s relationships and well-being--for better or for worse.
Summary: One of the masterpieces of English literature, Daniel Deronda tells the intertwined....+
One of the masterpieces of English literature, Daniel Deronda tells the intertwined stories of two different characters as they each come to discover of the truth of their natures.
Gwendolen Harleth is the high-spirited beauty of an impoverished upper-class family. In order to restore their fortunes, she unwittingly traps herself in an oppressive marriage. She turns for solace and guidance to the high-minded young Daniel Deronda, the adopted son of an aristocratic Englishman, who is searching for his own path in life. But when Deronda rescues a poor Jewish girl from drowning, he discovers a world of Jewish culture previously unknown to him. When he finally uncovers the long-hidden secret of his own parentage, he must confront his true identity and destiny.
Summary: Written when she was twenty-six, Agnes Grey is Anne Brontë’s first novel.....+
Written when she was twenty-six, Agnes Grey is Anne Brontë’s first novel. It tells the story of a rector’s daughter who has to earn her living as a governess when her family enters a financial crisis. Drawing directly from her own experiences, Anne Brontë set out to describe the immense pressures that the governess’ life involved: the frustration, the isolation, and the insensitive and cruel treatment on the part of employers and their families.
Mature, insightful, and edged with a quiet irony, this debut displays a keen sense of moral responsibility and sharp eye for bourgeois attitudes and behavior--and the corrosive power of wealth.
Summary: The last novel completed by Jane Austen before her death, Persuasion is often....+
The last novel completed by Jane Austen before her death, Persuasion is often thought to reflect on the author’s own lost love.
Sir Walter Elliot has raised his three daughters with his own sense of haughty pride. Elizabeth, at twenty-eight, has found no one good enough to marry, while Mary has, with some condescension, married the son of the local squire. The youngest, Anne, was persuaded to throw off her fiancé, Frederick Wentworth, eight years ago due to his lowly station in life. When Wentworth returns from the Napoleonic Wars as a captain of wealth and rank, Anne must confront her remorse and her unrequited love for him as he courts another woman. This is a story of second chances, humility, and the perseverance of love.
Summary: Often considered to be Jane Austen’s finest work, Emma is the story of a....+
Often considered to be Jane Austen’s finest work, Emma is the story of a charmingly self-deluded heroine whose injudicious matchmaking schemes often lead to substantial mortification. Emma, “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” Her own great fortune has blinded Emma to the true feelings and motivations of others and leads her to some hilarious misjudgments. But it is through her mistakes that Emma finds humility, wisdom, and true love. Told with the shrewd wit and delicate irony which have made Jane Austen a master of the English novel, Emma is a comic masterpiece whose fanciful heroine has gained the affection of generations of readers.
Summary: Roger Mifflin is part pixie, part sage, part noble savage, and all God’s....+
Roger Mifflin is part pixie, part sage, part noble savage, and all God’s creature. With his traveling book wagon, named Parnassus, he moves through the New England countryside of 1915 on an itinerant mission of enlightenment. Mifflin’s delight in books and authors is infectious. With his singular philosophy and bright eyes, he comes to represent the heart and soul of the book world. But a certain spirited spinster, disgruntled with her life, may have a hand in changing all that. This roaring good adventure yarn is spiced with fiery roadside brawls, heroic escapes from death, the most groaning boards in the history of Yankee cookery, and a rare love story...not to mention a glimpse at a feminist perspective from the early 1900s.