Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir
A collection of twelve short stories featuring Conan Doyle's legendary detective, originally published as single stories in Strand Magazine and subsequently collected into a single volume.
There is not always a crime committed nor a culprit to find, and when there is, Holmes does not invariably get his man. However, his extraordinary powers of deduction generally solve the mystery, often to the discomfiture of the official police force. Holmes is a man of many facets, and I do not share the common perception of Holmes as cold and humourless: his sense of fun can be sparkling, and there are moments of rare pathos.
Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.
The Count of Monte Cristo (French: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It is often considered, along with The Three Musketeers, as Dumas's most popular work. The writing of the work was completed in 1844. Like many of his novels, it is expanded from the plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.
The story takes place in France, Italy, islands in the Mediterranean and the Levant during the historical events of 1815–1838 (from just before the Hundred Days through the reign of Louis-Philippe of France). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book. It is primarily concerned with themes of justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness, and is told in the style of an adventure story.
Follow the young boy Huckleberry Finn and the slave Jim on their epic journey down the Mississippi River in the years before the Civil War. This masterpiece by Mark Twain is a delightful mixture of exciting adventures, sad mishaps, floods, lazy days floating on the raft, conniving con men and human beings in their most bewildering variety. It is a great pleasure to read and listen to. (by Phil Chenevert )
The classic Christmas story of an old miser and the astonishing effect a series of ghostly visitors has upon him. This version has been read in a whisper and is perfect for night-time listening in a quiet room. The low volume is intentional!
A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman and Hall on 17 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge's ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visitations of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
The tale begins on a Christmas Eve exactly seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner. Scrooge has no place in his life for kindness, compassion, charity or benevolence. He hates Christmas, calling it "humbug", refuses his nephew Fred's dinner invitation, and rudely turns away two gentlemen who seek a donation from him to provide a Christmas dinner for the Poor...
The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, and is generally considered the culmination of his life's work. The book portrays a parricide in which each of a murdered man's sons share a varying degree of complicity. The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel that explores deep into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, reason, and modern Russia. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed all over the world by thinkers as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, and Pope Benedict XVI as one of the supreme achievements in literature.
"David Copperfield" or "The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery" was first published in 1850. Like all except five of his works, it originally appeared in serial form. Many elements within the novel follow events in Dickens' own life, and it is probably the most autobiographical of all of his novels. It is also Dickens' "favorite child."
Oliver Twist was published in 1838 as a three volume book. The novel was the first of Dickens' works to realistically portray the degradation and impoverishment of the London underworld and its denizens. Dickens utilises the environment and characters to illustrate his belief that poverty leads to crime. The plot of this novel centres around and follows the journey of the parish boy "Oliver Twist." Oliver has been in the parish orphanage all his short life, a place overcrowded and constantly short of food. When Oliver has the temerity to ask for more after the evening meal of gruel he astonishes and horrifies the parish board and the parish beadle. They promptly sell him on to the local undertaker for the princely sum of 5 pounds. Oliver runs away and thus the journey begins! Oliver is drawn unwittingly into the London criminal underworld by a superbly characterised pickpocket; one known as 'The Artful Dodger' a streetwise, flamboyant boy who is a master at his craft. He is introduced to the unscrupulous Jew named 'Fagin' who controls the complete gang of pickpockets and ruffians. Oliver is uncomfortable in this den of iniquity and absconds, he is sheltered by a man who spots something about Oliver's demeanour and features which lead him to investigate his parentage. Before long Oliver is retaken by the bullying, insensitive criminal housebreaker 'Bill Sykes' and once more finds himself caught in Fagin's coils. As the plot unwinds we meet many finely drawn good and bad characters, and the vivid descriptions of the seamier side of London in that period are superlative.
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen's first published novel, focuses on the lives and loves of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. The sensible Elinor and the sensitive Marianne both fall for men whose affections are otherwise engaged. The novel includes a wonderful cast of colorful supporting characters, as well as Austen's trademark dry wit and ironic narration.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel A Study in Scarlet marked the first appearance of fictional private detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson. Doyle wrote this novel in less than three weeks when he was 27 years old. Originally called A Tangled Skein, the novel was rejected by several publishers before it was accepted for publication as A Study in Scarlet in the November 1887 issue of Beeton’s Christmas Annual, an obscure British magazine remembered for little other than its inauguration of Sherlock Holmes. The novel was first published as a book the following year, but it was not until Doyle’s publication of the Sherlock Holmes short story “A Scandal in Bohemia” in The Strand Magazine in 1891 that the character of Sherlock Holmes received widespread acclaim. Since then, A Study in Scarlet has been published in many editions both in English and in translation, and allusions to the novel have frequently appeared in the works of other authors. A Study in Scarlet has occasionally generated controversy relating to the negative depiction of early Mormons in the chapters that take place in Utah. When visiting Utah for the first time in 1923, Doyle was asked to apologize for this depiction, but he defended the relevant content in the novel as historical. Like other installments in the Sherlock Holmes franchise, A Study in Scarlet has been adapted many times for a variety of media, including comics, radio, television, film, and the stage. The first two film adaptations, one British and one American, were released in 1914 and both are now considered lost films; in 2010, the British Film Institute named the British film one of the 75 most wanted films for their National Archive. The novel’s enduring legacy is also discernable in the widespread use of magnifying glasses in detective fiction, a trope initiated by A Study in Scarlet.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short masterpiece about a ranting, slightly mad civil servant. The stylistic inventiveness, and the insights into the absurdities and weakness of humans seem so fresh and incisive today that if published now (a century and a half later) Notes would be considered an avant-garde post-modernist triumph. In some ways this is a heavy text, laden with conversational philosophizing; but the vividness of the narrator make it a wonderful read, and funny.
Kate Chopin's 1899 novella The Awakening is about the personal, sexual, and artistic awakening of a young wife and mother, Edna Pontellier. While on vacation at Grand Isle, an island in the Gulf of Mexico, Edna befriends the talented pianist Mlle. Reisz and the sympathetic Robert Lebrun, both of whom will influence her startling life choices. Chopin's novel created a scandal upon its original publication and effectively destroyed her writing career. Now, however, it is considered one of the finest American novels of the 19th century.
The book examines the role of education in the lives of the characters and how such education and study has affected the characters. Rosamond Vincy's finishing school education is a foil to Dorothea Brooke's religiously-motivated quest for knowledge. Rosamond initially admires Lydgate for his exotic education, and his intellect. A similar dynamic is present in Dorothea and Casaubon's relationship, with Dorothea revering her new husband's intellect and eloquence. In both cases, however, the young wives' expectations of their husbands intellects are not reflected in reality.
Despite extreme erudition, Mr. Casaubon is afraid to publish because he believes that he must write a work that is utterly above criticism. In contrast, Lydgate at times arrogantly flaunts his knowledge, making enemies with his fellow physicians. He regards the residents of Middlemarch with a certain amount of contempt stemming from his belief that the townspeople are backwards and uninteresting. However, his education has not included tact and politicking, skills necessary in a small town but are seen by Lydgate as below him, the brilliant doctor.
Published in book form in April 1857, the novel focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel's true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. Flaubert was notoriously perfectionist about his writing and claimed to always be searching for le mot juste (the right word)".
The extraordinary child-adult Prince Myshkin, confined for several years in a Swiss sanatorium suffering from severe epilepsy, returns to Russia to claim his inheritance and to find a place in healthy human society.
The teeming St Petersburg community he enters is far from receptive to an innocent like himself, despite some early successes and relentless pursuit by grotesque fortune-hunters. His naive gaucheries give rise to extreme reactions among his new acquaintance, ranging from anguished protectiveness to mockery and contempt.
But even before reaching the city, during the memorable train journey that opens the novel, he has encountered the demonic Rogozhin, the son of a wealthy merchant who is in thrall to the equally doomed Natasha Filippovna: beautiful, capricious and destructively neurotic, she joins with the two weirdly contrasted men in a spiralling dance of death...
H. G. Wells
In 1896 HG Wells produced the Island of Doctor Moreau. After a fateful shipwreck, a chance rescue, and offer of safe harbor, Edward Prendick must contend with a dark science. A man of science, Prendick must wrestle with the ethics of its passions. His inner struggle is illuminated by the island's outward horrors. Central to the themes are ethics, principles, and the extent of human compassion. This science fiction icon argues the true question of science: Could the cure be more dangerous than the disease?
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
The Cloak or the Overcoat as in some translations, is a story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian literature, as expressed in a quote attributed to Fyodor Dostoyevsky: "We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." It is pointed to as the start of the realistic style of writing. Summary by phil c
"Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" is a short story by Herman Melville. The story first appeared, anonymously, in Putnam's Magazine in two parts. The first part appeared in November 1853, with the conclusion published in December 1853. It was reprinted in Melville's The Piazza Tales in 1856 with minor textual alterations. The work is said to have been inspired, in part, by Melville's reading of Emerson, and some have pointed to specific parallels to Emerson's essay, "The Transcendentalist." The story has been adapted twice: once in 1970, starring Paul Scofield, and again in 2001, starring Crispin Glover.
The Old Curiosity Shop tells the story of Little Nell, a beautiful and virtuous young girl who lives with her grandfather in his shop of curiosities. Her grandfather loves her dearly, and Nell does not complain, but she lives a lonely existence without friends of her own age. Her only friend is Kit, an honest young lad who works at the shop, and whom she is teaching to write. Unbeknownst to Nell, her grandfather is obsessed with their precarious financial position and is attempting to make Nell a good inheritance by winning at cards. He keeps these nocturnal activities a secret, but borrows heavily from the evil Quilp, a dwarf, in order to raise new capital. In the end, he gambles away what little money they own, and Quilp seizes the opportunity to take possession of the shop and make Nell's and her grandfather's lives a misery. Indeed, her grandfather suffers a breakdown, which leaves him bereft of his wits. Courageously, Nell decides to escape Quilp, and she and her grandfather run away to the country to live as beggars, travelling into the Midlands of England.
There, then, follow the multifarious adventures of Nell and her grandfather, Quilp and his sly minions and accomplices, who would be Nell's vehement pursuers throughout the entire story, the noble schoolmaster, and many, many other personages as bright and memorable as Dickens' heroes always are. But... let us hear the story itself, shan't we?
(Description from Wikipedia with additions by Euthymius)
Nell and her elderly grandfather must flee from home after losing their shop and home to the evil Mr. Quilp. Her good-for-nothing brother, convinced that his grandfather is hoarding a great fortune intended for Nell, joins forces with Quilp to hunt them down, so that he can marry her off to his easily-led friend Nick and share in the fortune. Can Nell elude this fate? The first three chapters are told from the point of view of Master Humphrey, of Dickens' other work, "Master Humphrey's Clock." ( Brad "Hamlet" Filippone)
Silas Marner (originally published in 1861): Betrayed by a beloved friend and accused of a crime he didn’t commit, awkward Silas Marner is expelled from his beloved religious community — the only community he has ever known. He exiles himself in the remote village of Raveloe. Friendless and without family, set apart from the villagers by their superstition and fear of him, he plies his weaving trade day after day, storing up gold which becomes his idol. When his gold is stolen, he is rescued from despair by the arrival on his lonely hearth of a beautiful little girl, whom he adopts, and through whom he and the other people of the village learn that loving relationships are more fulfilling than material wealth.
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) is a tragic novel by English author Thomas Hardy subtitled, "The Life and Death of a Man of Character". It is set in the fictional town of Casterbridge (based on the town of Dorchester in Dorset). The book is one of Hardy's Wessex novels, all set in a fictional rustic England. (Wikipedia)A poor, disgruntled, drunken young man sells his wife and child to the highest bidder. When he awakens, sober, the next day he regrets his rash act and vows to give up drink and find his family and bring them home. Eventually he is forced to give up the search and move on with his life. He does this quite successfully until, nearly 20 years later, his past comes back to haunt him.
Dombey and Son is a novel by the Victorian author Charles Dickens. The story concerns Paul Dombey, the wealthy owner of the shipping company of the book's title, whose dream is to have a son to continue his business. The book begins when his son is born, and Dombey's wife dies shortly after giving birth.
As with most of Dickens' work, a number of socially significant themes are to be found in this book. In particular the book deals with the then-prevalent common practice of arranged marriages for financial gain. Other themes to be detected within this work include child cruelty (particularly in Dombey's treatment of Florence), familial relationships, and as ever in Dickens, betrayal and deceit and the consequences thereof. (Wikipedia)
This light and somewhat awkward comedy centers on artist Bernard Longueville, scientist Gordon Wright, and the sometimes inscrutable heroine, Angela Vivian. The plot rambles through various romantic entanglements before reaching an uncomplicated, but still believable happy ending. (wikipedia)
Publication of The Kreutzer Sonata in 1889 was a significant intellectual event worldwide. Censored in Russia, it set off an explosive debate in Europe, America, and Asia on matters relating to sexual abstinence and the hypocrisy of marriage. The novella emphasizes Tolstoy's controversial view on sexuality, which asserts that physical desire is an obstacle to relations between men and women and may result in tragedy. The Kreutzer Sonata has been recognized as among the best examples of Tolstoy's art of storytelling.
Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn
If you like Jane Austen, you will probably like this book!
Mrs. Gaskell, as she was often referred to, is considered one of the greatest British novelists of the Victorian era. She was one of the earliest novelists ever to use dialect in her works, finding often that no word but the vernacular would suffice to convey the meaning she wanted to achieve. She was the author of The Life of Charlotte Brontë, a much-acclaimed and sometimes-reviled biography of her friend and peer.
Wives and Daughters revolves around Molly Gibson, only daughter of a widowed doctor living in a provincial English town in the 1830s. The novel was first published in the Cornhill Magazine as a serial from August 1864 to January 1866. When Mrs Gaskell died suddenly in 1865, it was not quite complete, and the last section was written by Frederick Greenwood.
Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn
The book is a social novel, dealing with Victorian views about sin and illegitimacy. It is a surprisingly compassionate portrayal of a 'fallen woman', a type of person normally outcast from respectable society. The title of the novel refers to the main character Ruth Hilton, an orphaned young seamstress who is seduced and then abandoned by gentleman Henry Bellingham. Ruth, pregnant and alone, is taken in by a minister and his sister. They conceal her single status under the pretence of widowhood in order to protect her child from the social stigma of illegitimacy. Ruth goes on to gain a respectable position in society as a governess, which is threatened by the return of Bellingham and the revelation of her secret.
Cooper, James Fenimore
The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is one of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper. The Pioneers was first of these books to be published (1823), but the period of time covered by the book (principally 1793) makes it the fourth chronologically. (The others are The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, and The Prairie.)
The story takes place on the rapidly advancing frontier of New York State and features a middle-aged Leatherstocking (Natty Bumppo), Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton, whose life parallels that of the author's father Judge William Cooper, and Elizabeth (the author Susan Cooper), of Cooperstown. The story begins with an argument between the Judge and the Leatherstocking over who killed a buck, and as Cooper reviews many of the changes to his fictional Lake Otsego, questions of environmental stewardship, conservation, and use prevail. The plot develops as the Leatherstocking and Chingachgook begin to compete with the Temples for the loyalties of a young visitor, Oliver Effingham. Effingham eventually marries Elizabeth. Chingachgook dies, exemplifying the vexed figure of the "dying Indian," and Natty vanishes into the sunset. For all its strange twists and turns, 'The Pioneers' may be considered one of the first ecological novels in the United States.
W. S. Gilbert
In this recording, one person reads the entire play, all parts, including the stage directions. Even without the support of Arthur Sullivan’s music and the interpretation of actors, the consummate silliness of Gilbert’s libretto entertains. The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. Setting the opera in Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese
W. S. Gilbert
In this recording, one person reads the entire play, all parts, including the stage directions. Even without the support of Arthur Sullivan’s music and the interpretation of actors, the consummate silliness of Gilbert’s libretto entertains.
H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, England, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time. H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.
The story takes place aboard the British ship HMS Pinafore. The captain's daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, although her father intends her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. She abides by her father's wishes at first, but Sir Joseph's advocacy of the equality of humankind encourages Ralph and Josephine to overturn conventional social order. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. The captain discovers this plan, but, as in many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise disclosure changes things dramatically near the end of the story.
Drawing on several of his earlier "Bab Ballad" poems, Gilbert imbued this plot with mirth and silliness. The opera's humour focuses on love between members of different social classes and lampoons the British class system in general. Pinafore also pokes good-natured fun at patriotism, party politics, the Royal Navy, and the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority. The title of the piece comically applies the name of a garment for girls and women, a pinafore, to the fearsome symbol of a naval warship.
Pinafore's extraordinary popularity in Britain, America and elsewhere was followed by the similar success of a series of Gilbert and Sullivan works, including The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. Their works, later known as the Savoy operas, dominated the musical stage on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a decade and continue to be performed today. The structure and style of these operas, particularly Pinafore, were much copied and contributed significantly to the development of modern musical theatre.
Bulwer-Lytton, Edward George
Last Days of Pompeii is a novel written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1834. Once a very widely read book and now relatively neglected, it culminates in the cataclysmic destruction of the city of Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
The novel uses its characters to contrast the decadent culture of first-century Rome with both older cultures and coming trends. The protagonist, Glaucus, represents the Greeks who have been subordinated by Rome, and his nemesis Arbaces the still older culture of Egypt. Olinthus is the chief representative of the nascent Christian religion, which is presented favorably but not uncritically.
The Woodlanders is one of Hardys later novels,although he origianally intended it as a successor to Far From The Madding Crowd.It concerns the life and loves of Giles Winterborne,Grace Melbury,Edred Fitzpiers, Felice Charmond and Marty South.The topics of class,fidelity and loyalty are delt with in Hardys exquisite style and set in the beautiful woodlands of Hintock (T.Hynes)
Honoré de Balzac
Part of the La Comedie Humane and something of a sequence to Balzac's Father Goriot, the short book's title is the name of the pawn broker/money lender the father Goriot utilized to maintain his spoiled daughters in the luxury he had accustomed them to. This is a continuation of the tale of one of those daughters, Mme Restaud.
He Knew He Was Right is a 1869 novel written by Anthony Trollope which describes the failure of a marriage caused by the unreasonable jealousy of a husband exacerbated by the stubbornness of a willful wife. As is common with Trollope's works, there are also several substantial subplots. Trollope considered this work to be a failure; he viewed the main character as unsympathetic, and the secondary characters and plots much more lively and interesting.
Our heroine, Anne Garland, lives quietly in a rural community deep in the English countryside. However, the arrival of several regiments preparing for an expected invasion brings colour and chaos to the county. A graceful and charming young woman, Anne is pursued by three suitors: John Loveday, the trumpet-major in a British regiment, honest and loyal; his brother Robert, a merchant seaman and womaniser, and Festus Derriman, the cowardly son of the local squire. Set at the time of the Napoleonic wars, this is the author's only historical novel, and unusually for Hardy's books, some of the characters live happily ever after.
The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In is the second of Charles Dickens' Christmas books, published in 1844. Its contemporary setting is the "Hungry Forties", a time of social and political unrest, and the book has a strong moral message. It remained popular for many years, although its fame has since been eclipsed by that of A Christmas Carol, the first of the series.
Our hero Toby ("Trotty") Veck is a poor but hard-working man, whose beloved daughter Meg is due to marry on New Year's Day. Trotty, who is appalled by newspaper reports of crime and immorality, is further depressed by his encounters with the rich and influential Alderman Cute and Sir Joseph Bowley, who make him feel that the poor have no right to exist in society, and his daughter has no right to marry. Trotty hears messages in the chimes of the church bells, which lead him to visit the belfry at night on New Year's Eve...
Orley Farm is Trollope at his best (as good as the Barsetshire series), which means some of the best characterizations in the English language. Trollope's people are real; the beleaguered Lady Mason, charged with forging a will; the aged lover Sir Peregrine Orme; Madeleine Stavely, deeply but practically in love; the shallow, fickle Sophia Furnival and others are 3-dimensional figures that live and breathe. His satire of the so-called "justice" system is the best kind of satire: he just describes the court proceedings as they really are. The result is as up-to-date as today's newspaper.
Uncle’s Dream by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was written following his five year exile to Siberia where he was sent to serve in a hard labor camp. Following what could only have been a harrowing and harsh existence in Russia’s infamous prison for political and social prisoners, one would expect Dostoyevsky’s work to have been dark and bitter. Rather, Uncle’s Dream is a humorous and yet scathing commentary on Russian provincial high-society.
The story of elderly Prince K. who comes to visit the town of Mordasoff, lorded over by the imperious Maria Alexandrovna, is one of love, hate, deceit and greed. Standing reluctantly at Maria Alexandrovna’s side is her haughty daughter, Zina, who has few friends of her own. The prince’s companion and distant relative is Paul Mosgliakoff, suitor to Zina.
Maria Alexandrovna and Zina are the central characters in the charade to lure the senile prince into a marriage of convenience (not for him but for Maria Alexandrovna and Zina). They, and a host of lesser characters, are brought to life in full color by Dostoyevsky’s masterful wordsmithing. Uncle’s Dream is a must listen for any fan of not only Dostoyevsky, but of Russian literature and the “goings-on” of the Russian “upper crust.”
A successful painter reconnects with the woman he once loved during a visit to an English country house. His surprise is great when he learns that her husband is susceptible to a very peculiar habit.
The title and a quick glance at the chapter titles of James Grant's The Phantom Regiment--such as "The Romance of the Month," "The Halt in Cork Wood," "Rio de la Muerte (Spanish for death)," Pedro, the Contrabandist," "A Legend of Fife," "The Midnight March"--will lead you to realize that this book is filled with excitement, mystery, intrigue, adventure, and cultural conflict with an emphasis on Scottish soldierly daredevilry and pride. It has all the elements that make for an enjoyable and an exciting listen.
As usual, Trollope creates a nice variety of characters of different English classes, sentiments and positions. The primary themes are the inheritance of property, extravagance or reason in the spending of assets, the mating of young people, and the electoral practices of the time. The election chapters are based on Trollope's own experiences when he ran for Parliament.
There are, of course, many subplots which allow Trollope to express, through dialog, his opinions about greed, snobbery, work ethics and dandyism. Trollope probably regretted the duplicative naming of his characters after a while; we have two Gregory Newtons, uncle (and present Squire of Newton) and one of his nephews. Then there are several Ralphs: the (deceased) father, Ralph his son (the heir), and Ralph (not the heir) the son of the uncle Gregory! As they appear, Trollope has to interject "not the heir", or "the other Ralph". Ralph the heir is an extravagant, easy living young man who has spent himself into debt, and is faced with having to either sell his right to the family property, or marrying a wealthy tradesman's (a breeches maker cutely named Mr. Neefit) daughter.
Four young women are major characters, and these are sought by the two Ralphs, young Gregory, and a bootmaker, Ontario Moggs (don't you love the names?). These include the fairly sedate daughters of the family lawyer, a ravishing West Indian beauty come to live with them, and the tradesman's daughter. There are the classic novel "misunderstandings" from errors in communication; while the reader knows the real circumstances, the characters can't resolve issues apparently standing in the way of love or friendship. This is one of the few novels in which the reader can applaud such a misunderstanding, keeping the undeserving heir from unmerited success in his wooing. ( Arnold Banner)
Balzac, Honoré de
In his startling and tragic novella Farewell (‘Adieu’), Balzac adds to the 19th century’s literature of the hysterical woman: sequestered, confined in her madness; mute, or eerily chanting in her moated grange. The first Mrs Rochester lurks in the wings; the Lady of Shalott waits for the shadowy reflection of the world outside to shatter her illusion. Freud’s earliest patients will soon enter the waiting-room in their turn.
Whilst out hunting two friends come across a strange waif-like woman shut up in a decaying chateau which one of them dubs “the Palace of the Sleeping Beauty”. Soon we are dragged back to the terrible masculine reality of the 1812 retreat of Napoleon’s army from Moscow and the grotesque massacre that was to traumatise the heroine, parting her from her lover.
Their reunion is more desperate still, as the earlier event is recreated in a bizarre and vain attempt to root out madness and compel the return of happiness…
Bishop Pendle is the Church of England bishop in a small fictitious English cathedral town. Several years into his work, he receives a visit from a disreputable-looking visitor. The bishop is much upset. What transpired between them that has so upset the good churchman? And then there is the murder. Fergus Hume was one of the most prolific and most popular of 19th century novelists. "Mr. Hume won a reputation second to none for plot of the stirring, ingenious, misleading, and finally surprising kind, and for working out his plot in vigorous and picturesque English. In "The Bishop's Secret," while there is no falling off in plot and style, there is a welcome and marvelous broadening out as to the cast of characters, representing an unusually wide range of typical men and women. These are not laboriously described by the author, but are made to reveal themselves in action and speech in a way that has, for the reader, all the charm of personal intercourse with living people...."(Book Preface and david wales)
Wiggin, Kate Douglas
Penelope's English Experiences is a fictional travelogue, which documents the experiences of three American ladies on a visit to England. Included are scenes in London and the village of Belvern, containing fanciful sketches of a West-end ball, portraits of domestic originals, etc., characterized by humorous trifling and droll exaggeration of English traits. By the author Mother Carey's Chickens, A Cathedral Courtship, etc.
Ill feelings exist between the Meadowcroft sons and John Jago, the foreman of the Meadowcroft estate. Then, John Jago disappears, and a body is found in a kiln. The Meadowcroft brothers stand accused of the crime, but are they guilty? The Dead Alive is a novel written by Wilkie Collins based on the true-life Boorn Brothers murder conviction case of 1819. Jesse and Stephen Boorn were sentenced to death for the murder of their brother-in-law, but were they wrongly convicted?
A romance set in Prague between a Catholic and a Jew. In this short novel, Trollope moves away from his usual milieu to explore a theme which has universal resonance.
We are introduced to Englishman Dudley Thorpe on the evening of his arrival in California. At a ball, he is introduced to several belles, including the lovely Nina Randolph. Is this the start of something special? Dudley thinks so, but what about Nina? Why won't she open herself up to love? She is obviously attracted to Dudley. What is the dark secret she is hiding? Will it make a difference to Dudley's feelings? Who will be there for her in her time of need? Dudley or her odious cousin, Richard Clough? And what will San Francisco society make of it all?
George Payne Rainsford James
The county of Kent, situated in the south eastern corner of England is ideally placed for the smugglers' trade. Close to London, with its market for contraband, with the English Channel separating it from France by just 21 miles and the North Sea to the east it was a smugglers' haven. Unlike Cornwall, where smugglers relied on shipwrecks... either caused by inclement weather, or human intervention, the trade in Kent was fueled by gentleman smugglers, who had the wherewithal to fund an import business, but chose to evade customs. They made their fortunes off the hard and dangerous work of others, while they enjoyed their lives of leisure. Mr. Zachary Croyland is an interesting old man, who seems to know about the business and is critical of it... but what is his place in it? Is he an interested observer, who occasionally enjoys illicit brandy-soaked cherries, or is his role more central? And what of his brother, Sir Robert, with his two charming daughters? Whatever their roles, their neighbors, the Radfords, are definitely bad news. The Smuggler was originally published in three volumes.