Prudence, at nineteen, is reckless, laughing, wild; the despair of her elderly guardians. With her best friend, the subversive but very female Peter, she rackets round the Irish countryside among her beloved horses and dogs. But she feels betrayed by Peter’s growing interest in the new Master of Hounds, ‘Saxon’ Major Anthony Countless. And what is Prudence to make of handsome Toby Sage, neighbour, huntsman and accredited flirt? Or of an inexplicable haunting? First published in 1928, this high-spirited novel with its subtle erotic undercurrents, is a glorious story of a ramshackle, tolerant society and of Prudence’s turbulent coming of age.
When Anthony Considine creeps into Mellick town with a stolen horse in 1789, it sets the destiny of his family for decades to come. By the 1850s, through thrift and hard work, his son Honest John has made the Considines a leading Mellick family. With his father’s money, John’s son Anthony builds a grand country house for his wife and children – but especially for his youngest son Denis, who he adores, little knowing that one day Denis will threaten the toil of generations with his love for a peasant girl . . .
Janina Beauman was thirteen-years-old when Hitler’s decree forced her family into the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. The young, bright and lively girl suddenly found herself in a cramped flat hiding with other Jewish families. At first even curfews and the casual cruelty meted out by the German occupiers could not completely wipe out her passion for books, boys and romance, ‘Perhaps we’ve been wasting the last bits of our lives not even trying to found out what life is?’ Then came the raids and Janina, with her sister and mother, had to keep on the move to avoid being one of thousands rounded up every day and deported to the camps. Their escape to the ‘Aryan’ side was followed by years spent behind hidden doors, where dependence on others was crucial, and all that a growing
girl craves, denied. Told through her teenage diaries, this is an extraordinary tale of a passionate young woman’s survival and courage.
Pretty, impecunious Mary Preston, newly arrived as a guest of her Aunt Agnes at the magnificent wooded estate of Rushwater, falls head over heels for handsome playboy David Leslie. Meanwhile, Agnes and her mother, the eccentric matriarch Lady Emily, have hopes of a different, more suitable match for Mary. At the lavish Rushwater dance party, her future happiness hangs in the balance . . .
At the beginning of June the river floods, ducks swim through the drawing-room windows and Ebin Willowd rows his daughters round the submerged garden. The grandmother dresses in magenta for her seventy-first birthday whist drive and looks forward to the first prize of pate de fois gras. Later Ives the gardener leads a morose procession up river, dragging her to a funeral in a black-draped punt. The miller goes mad and drowns himself and a cottage is set alight. Villagers keep dying and at the house on a river, plates are thrown across the luncheon table and a tortoise through a window. The newspaper asks ‘Who will be smitten by the fatal madness next?’
When Rainclouds Gather: Escaping South Africa and his troubled past, Makehaya crosses the border to Botswana, in the hope of leading a peaceful, purposeful life. In the village of Golema Mmidi he meets Gilbert, a charismatic Englishman who is trying to modernise farming methods to benefit the community. The two outsiders join forces, but their task is fraught with hazards: opposition from the corrupt chief, the pressures of tradition, and the unrelenting climate ever threaten to bring tragedy.
Maru: Margaret, an orphan from a despised tribe, has lived her life under the loving protection of a missionary’s wife. She has only to open her mouth to cause confusion, for her education and English accent do not fit her looks. When she accepts her first teaching post, in a remote village, Margaret is befriended by Dikeledi, sister of Maru the chief-in-waiting. Despite making influential friends, Margaret faces prejudice even from the children she teaches, and her presence causes Maru and his best friend – also Dikeledi’s lover – to become sworn enemies.
WEST WITH THE NIGHT appeared on 13 bestseller lists on first publication in 1942. It tells the spellbinding story of Beryl Markham — aviator, racehorse trainer, fascinating beauty -and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and 30s.
Markham was taken to Kenya at the age of four. As an adult she was befriended by Denys Finch-Hatton, the big-game hunter of OUT OF AFRICA fame, who took her flying in his airplane. Thrilled by the experience, Markham went on to become the first woman in Kenya to receive a commercial pilot’s license.
In 1936 she determined to fly solo across the Atlantic — without stopping. When Charles Lindbergh did the same, he had the wind behind him. Markham, by contrast, had a strong headwind against her and a plane that only flew up to 163 mph. On 4 September, she took off … Several days later, she crash-landed in Nova Scotia and became an instant celebrity.
This collection of wartime stories includes some of the finest writers of a generation. War had traditionally been seen as a masculine occupation, but these stories show how women were equal if different participants. Here, war is less about progress on the frontline of battle than about the daily struggle to keep homes, families and relationships alive; to snatch pleasure from danger, and strength from shared experience. The stories are about saying goodbye to husbands, lovers, brothers and sons – and sometimes years later trying to remake their lives anew. By turn comical, stoical, compassionate, angry and subversive, these intensely individual voices bring a human dimension to the momentous events that reverberated around them and each opens a window on to a hidden landscape of war.
Writers include: Jean Rhys, Beryl Bainbridge, Elizabeth Bowen, Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Smith, Rosamond Lehmann, Barbara Pym, Angela Thirkell, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Olivia Manning, Rose Macaulay and Stevie Smith
Laura is happily married, a mother and a successful novelist. Although she is prey to night terrors, she is adept at smoothing the disorder of reality into controlled prose. Walking Naked telescopes the whole of Laura’s life- childhood, marriages, triumphs and disappointments- into a day in which the past and present converge. It begins with a game of tennis played for duty rather than amusement and progresses, via an afternoon party of old friends and jaded emotions, to a bewildering visit to Laura’s son, imprisoned on a drugs’ charge. At its close, the possibility of death within the family hauls unresolved conflicts centre stage and Laura strips herself of the posturing and self-deceit with which she has cloaked her vulnerability.
Lucy Entwhistle’s beloved father has just died, and aged twenty-two, she finds herself alone in the world. Leaning against her garden gate, dazed and unhappy, she is disturbed by the sudden appearance of the perspiring Mr Wemyss.
This middle-aged man is also in mourning – for his wife, Vera, who has died in mysterious circumstances. Before Lucy can collect herself, Mr Wemyss has taken charge: of the funeral arrangements, of her kind Aunt Dot, but most of all of Lucy herself, body and soul. Elizabeth von Arnim’s masterpiece, VERA is a forceful study of the power of men in marriage – and the weakness of women in love.
FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF REBECCA
An eloquent elegy on the past of a county she loved so much – The Times
‘There was a smell in the air of tar and rope and rusted chain, a smell of tidal water. Down harbour, around the point, was the open sea. Here was the freedom I desired, long sought-for, not yet known. Freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone . . . I for this, and this for me.’
Daphne du Maurier lived in Cornwall for most of her life. Its rugged coastline, wild terrain and tumultuous weather inspired her imagination, and many of her works are set there, including Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek.
In Vanishing Cornwall she celebrates the land she loved, exploring its legends, its history and its people, eloquently making a powerful plea for Cornwall’s preservation.
Before Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell and Lena Dunham, Jacqueline Susann held the world rapt with her tales of the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists and the jet-set.
Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often sited as the bestselling novel of all time.
Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.