The novel tells the story of Agnes Grey, the daughter of a minister, whose family comes to financial ruin. Desperate to earn the money to care for herself, she takes one of the few jobs allowed to respectable women in the early Victorian era – the role of governess to the children of the wealthy. In working with two different families (the Bloomfields and the Murrays), she comes to learn about the troubles that face a young woman who must try to rein in unruly, spoiled children for a living, and about the ability of wealth and status to destroy social values. After her father's death, Agnes opens a small school with her mother and finds happiness with a man who loves her for herself. They have three children at the end of the novel, Edward, Agnes and Mary (Wikipedia)
The title of the novella is almost an adequate summary in itself. The "boy-meets-girl-then-loses-her" story is universal but not, I think, banal - despite a surprise ending which notoriously turns out to be very little of a surprise. First Love is given its originality and poignancy by Turgenev's mastery of the piercing turning-point (akin to Joyce's "epiphanies") that transforms the character's whole being, making a tragic outcome inevitable. Even the nature symbolism is rescued from triteness by lovely poetic similes - e.g. "but at that point my attention was arrested by the appearance of a speckled woodpecker who busily climbed up the slender stem of a birch-tree and peeped out uneasily from behind it, first to the right, then to the left, like a musician behind the bass-viol."
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Mary Barton is the first novel by English author Elizabeth Gaskell, published in 1848. The story is set in the English city of Manchester during the 1830s and 1840s and deals heavily with the difficulties faced by the Victorian lower class.
The novel begins in Manchester, where we are introduced to the Bartons and the Wilsons, two working class families. John Barton reveals himself to be a great questioner of the distribution of wealth and the relation between the rich and the poor. He also relates how his sister-in-law Esther has disappeared after she ran away from home.
Soon afterwards Mrs Barton dies, and John is left with his daughter Mary to cope in the harsh world around them. Having already been deeply affected by the loss of his son Tom at a young age, after the death of his wife, Barton tackles depression and begins to involve himself in the Chartist movement connected with the trade unions.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
"Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life" was Mrs Gaskell's first full-length novel. It was published anonymously in that tumultuous year of political change, 1848 - only a few months after the Communist Manifesto co-authored by her fellow Manchester-resident, Friedrich Engels. Engels's experience as agent in his father's cotton-spinning factory motivated him to write "The Condition of the Working Class in England", a classic account of the sufferings of the poor under the factory-system.
Elizabeth Gaskell's own personal contact with the plight of the poor cotton workers of Lancashire also compelled her to a compassionate examination of their lives; but as a middle-class woman, married to a Unitarian minister, her approach to her subject took on a more emotionally complex significance; influenced by religious faith but also by more personal considerations.
In the brief preface to the novel, Mrs Gaskell hints at her initial impulse. The loss of a beloved child in infancy led her to seek a therapeutic outlet, but one which left her uncertain of her capacity to contextualize her public, writerly response to the tragedies occurring in the surrounding society of Manchester's poorest classes: "I know nothing of Political Economy, or the theories of trade..." She was, however, determined to portray, in novelistic form, the intimate connection between the private experience of her characters and the social forces of her time. The success of the novel led her to proclaim her authorship and move on to further works of fiction, which have secured her in our times a mounting reputation as one of the leading novelists of the mid-Victorian period.
Certainly the novel features numerous death-scenes, all conveyed with a depth of sympathy that contrasts with the queasy iambics with which Dickens orchestrated the notorious demise of Little Nell. Mrs Gaskell was not, like Dickens, a London-based novelist observing the sufferings of the provincial poor with a journalistic detachment - as evidenced in his own admirable, Lancashire-based novel "Hard Times". Gaskell lived among the people whose attenuated lives she chronicled - and however hesitantly, as a début novelist, she rendered their experience in literary terms, her writing presents us with a true insight into the sufferings of individuals at a point in history when the mass of human beings fell casualty to the forms of economic progress following upon the Industrial Revolution. Most impressively she called into question the political and social cost of creating a resentful proletariat despairing of survival in (to quote Karl Marx) a "heartless world".
Our reader Tony Foster is a resident of Manchester and a near-neighbour of Mrs Gaskell (allowing for their separation in time). His superb narration renders the native speech of her characters with an authenticity which ideally conveys the spirit of this book. A truly moving experience awaits everyone who gives ear to this 'Tale of Manchester Life'.
The novel has two main plots; one set in the real world at the time the book was published (the Victorian era), the other in the fictional world of Fairyland. While the latter plot is a fairy tale with many nonsense elements and poems, similar to Carroll's most famous children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the story set in Victorian Britain is a social novel, with its characters discussing various concepts and aspects of religion, society, philosophy and morality.
Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Mary Elizabeth Braddon's first novel, Lady Audley's Secret, was one of the most popular English novels of its day. Published serially in 1862, it tells the story of the lovely Lucy Graham, who becomes Lady Audley at the beginning of the novel, and who conceals a scandalous secret from her new husband and his family. The plot, which includes madness, bigamy, attempted murder, and seduction, made this a shocking but highly successful story for Victorian audiences. It remains one of the best examples of 19th century sensational fiction, and is a wonderfully absorbing book. (Summary written by gloriana).
William Makepeace Thackeray
First published as a serial in Fraser's Magazine in 1844 as The Luck of Barry Lyndon, The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq is a picaresque novel, narrated (occasionally charmingly, always unreliably) by a member of the 18th-century Irish gentry. Redmond Barry, later Barry Lyndon, describes his rise to - and inevitable fall from - the top of the English aristocracy. Romantic, military and political intrigue, as well as satire and pathos, follow. Editorial notes, courtesy of Thackeray's fictitious alter ego, G. S. FitzBoodle, interject further levels of irony, humour and detachment.
Thackeray, who based the novel in part on the life and exploits of the Anglo-Irish rake and fortune-hunter Andrew Robinson Stoney, among other historical sources, significantly revised and reissued the book in 1856 under its current title.
Its unreliable, morally dubious narrator, metafictional editor, and multiple layers of interpretive possibility make it a fascinating precursor to the modern novel, while Thackeray's characteristic interest in the specifics of 18th-century life ensures a rich and engaging backdrop.
In 1975, Stanley Kubrick adapted the book for his film Barry Lyndon, since widely regarded as one of the finest films ever made.
This audiobook was read from a 1902 edition edited by Walter Jerrold, who provides a brief introduction.
Edwin Abbott Abbott
This is a satirical novel written by Edwin A. Abbott, first published in 1884. Abbott uses a two-dimensional world, with himself as the protagonist, known simply as "A Square", to deride the Victorian aristocracy and its hierarchies. But the book has retained its value throughout the years for its unique portrayal of a two-dimensional world, and how a Sphere introduces the Square to the incomprehensible possibility of a third dimension. Once the square fully understands the third dimension, he suggests to the Sphere that even a fourth, fifth, or sixth dimension could exist. But the Sphere sends the square back to his two-dimensional world, where he cannot convince anyone of the existence of a three dimensional world.
Ros, Amanda McKittrick
Amanda McKittrick Ros, a Northern Irish writer, did for the novel what William McGonagall did for poetry and Florence Foster Jenkins for the coloratura voice. She published a number of novels (all at her own expense) and in addition to being a novelist was a poet, her best known being 'Visiting Westminster Abbey' which begins
Take a look!
Flesh decayed in every nook!
Some rare bits of brain lie here,
Mortal loads of beef and beer.
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.
Most men who with some earnestness of mind examine into the mysteries of our social state will perhaps pass through that stage of self-education in which this Novel was composed. The contrast between conventional frauds, received as component parts of the great system of civilization, and the less deceptive invasions of the laws which discriminate the meum from the tuum, is tempting to a satire that is not without its justice. The tragic truths which lie hid in what I may call the Philosophy of Circumstance strike through our philanthropy upon our imagination. We see masses of our fellow-creatures the victims of circumstances over which they had no control,—contaminated in infancy by the example of parents, their intelligence either extinguished or turned against them, according as the conscience is stifled in ignorance or perverted to apologies for vice. A child who is cradled in ignominy, whose schoolmaster is the felon, whose academy is the House of Correction,—who breathes an atmosphere in which virtue is poisoned, to which religion does not pierce,—becomes less a responsible and reasoning human being than a wild beast which we suffer to range in the wilderness, till it prowls near our homes, and we kill it in self-defence.
In this respect the Novel of “Paul Clifford” is a loud cry to society to amend the circumstance,—to redeem the victim. It is an appeal from Humanity to Law. And in this, if it could not pretend to influence or guide the temper of the times, it was at least a foresign of a coming change. Between the literature of imagination, and the practical interests of a people, there is a harmony as complete as it is mysterious. The heart of an author is the mirror of his age. The shadow of the sun is cast on the still surface of literature long before the light penetrates to law; but it is ever from the sun that the shadow falls, and the moment we see the shadow we may be certain of the light. ( Adapted from the Preface)
Émile François Zola (French pronunciation: [emil z?'la]) (2 April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was an influential French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism.
More than half of Zola's novels were part of a set of twenty novels about a family under the Second Empire collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart.
L'Assommoir (1877) is the seventh novel in the series. Usually considered one of Zola's masterpieces, the novel—a harsh and uncompromising study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris—was a huge commercial success and established Zola's fame and reputation throughout France and the world.
Louisa May Alcott
Eight Cousins, or The Aunt-Hill was published in 1875 by American novelist Louisa May Alcott. It is the story of Rose Campbell, a lonely and sickly girl who has been recently orphaned and must now reside with her maiden great aunts, who are the matriarchs of her wealthy Boston family. When Rose's guardian, Uncle Alec, returns from abroad, he takes over her care. She is suddenly confronted with a male guardian and seven male cousins, none of whom she knows well.
The life of a young heir, Pierre is altered when he meets a mysterious woman who claims to be his sister.
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.
"The story deals with the literary world that Gissing himself had experienced. Its title refers to the London street, Grub Street, which in the 18th century became synomynous with hack literature; as an institution, Grub Street itself no longer existed in Gissing's time. Its two central characters are a sharply contrasted pair of writers:
Edwin Reardon, a novelist of some talent but limited commercial prospects, and a shy, cerebral man; and Jasper Milvain, a young journalist, hard-working and capable of generosity, but cynical and unscrupulous about writing and its purpose in the modern (i.e. late Victorian) world".
Here are some classic, short Christmas stories from Charles Dickens, who, one may easily argue, was the greatest Christmas storyteller to date. In this season, may we do as Dickens' asked: "Welcome, everything! Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter underneath the holly, to your places round the Christmas fire, where what is sits open-hearted!" Happy Holidays!
The Cossacks (1863) is an unfinished novel which describes the Cossack life and people through a story of Dmitri Olenin, a Russian aristocrat in love with a Cossack girl. This text was acclaimed by Ivan Bunin as one of the finest in the language.
Additional proof-listening was done by mim@can & katzes.
George Eliot’s 1859 novella, The Lifted Veil, departs radically from the grounded realism of her longer and better known works, such as Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. Its tone calls to mind the works of middlebrow Sensationists, like Wilkie Collins (The Moonstone), and of some of the better known authors of Victorian era horror writings, such as Bram Stoker (Dracula) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein).
Eliot here explores mystical themes, considering the world of phenomena which are felt but not seen. Yet in doing so she suggests that the apparent clairvoyance of her main character, Latimer, may in fact be, at least in part, psychological expressions of his early life experiences. This view is supported by the fact that most of Latimer’s vision-based predictions of how people will behave and events unfold do not, in the end, turn out as he had foretold.
Much of this work’s power and complexity lie in Latimer’s relationship with Bertha, whom he ultimately, unhappily, marries. Bertha is the one person whose thoughts and feelings he is not able to read, raising the question: What is it about Bertha that renders her inaccessible to his psychic penetration – and what does this tell us about her, and about him.
This novel is subtitled The Mellstock Quire, A Rural Painting of the Dutch School. The Quire is the group of musicians who accompany the hymns at the local church and we follow the fortunes of one member, Dick Dewy, who falls in love with the new school mistress, Fancy Day. Another element of the book is the battle between the traditional musicians of the Quire and the local vicar, Parson Maybold, who installs a church organ. This battle illustrates the developing technology being introduced in the Victorian era and its threat to traditional country ways. The novel was published anonymously in 1872 and is often seen as Thomas Hardy's most gentle and pastoral novel. In 2005 Under the Greenwood Tree was adapted for a television version by Ashley Pharoah.
Balzac, Honoré de
Listeners who like to plunge straight into a story would do well to skip the lengthy preamble. Here, Balzac the virtuoso satirist depicts the levels of Parisian society as a version of the Inferno of Dante - but perhaps keeps the reader waiting too long for the first act of his operatic extravaganza.
Our beautiful, androgynous hero, Henri de Marsay, is one of the bastard offspring of a depraved Regency milord and himself practises the cynical arts of the libertine. His quarry is the exotic Paquita Valdes, she of the golden eyes.
But there is a mysterious third person in this liaison...
The shocking truth of their interrelationships marks this out at once as one of those French novels that Lady Bracknell would instantly ban from the house.
The Father is a naturalistic drama by Swedish playwright August Strindberg. The central conflict is between the Captain and his wife Laura about their daughter Bertha's future. In order to gain sole custody of her daughter, Laura tries to convince the Captain that he has gone mad.
Robert Smith Surtees
Considering that Billy Pringle, or Fine Billy, as his good-natured friends called him, was only an underbred chap, he was as good an imitation of a Swell as ever we saw. He had all the airy dreaminess of a hereditary high flyer, while his big talk and off-hand manner strengthened the delusion.
It was only when you came to close quarters with him and found that though he talked in pounds he acted in pence, and marked his fine dictionary words and laboured expletives, that you came to the conclusion that he was “painfully gentlemanly.” So few people, however, agree upon what a gentleman is, that Billy was well calculated to pass muster with the million. Fine shirts, fine ties, fine talk, fine trinkets, go a long way towards furnishing the character with many. Billy was liberal, not to say prodigal, in all these. The only infallible rule we know is, that the man who is always talking about being a gentleman never is one. Just as the man who is always talking about honour, morality, fine feeling, and so on never knows anything of these qualities but the name. - Summary From The Book
Robert Louis Stevenson
This is a sequel to Kidnapped. Many thought Kidnapped ended quite abruptly. The reason is Stevenson planned on writing a sequel. Catriona takes up the story of David Balfour on the same day Kidnapped ends. He must now try to clear his name and the name of James Stewart of the Appin murder. This will not be easy because the Campbells want James Stewart to hang.
"Catriona: Being Memoirs of the Further Adventures of David Balfour at Home and Abroad, in which are set forth his misfortunes anent the Appin Murder, his troubles with Lord Advocate Grant: captivity on the Bass Rock, Journey into Holland and France, and singular relations with James More Drummond or MacGregor, a son of the notorious Rob Roy, and his daughter Catriona: written by himself, and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson."
George W. M. Reynolds
The Mysteries of London was a best-selling novel in mid-Victorian England, published in four volumes. This is the fourth and final volume. Initially serialized in weekly installments, they were the forerunners of today's soap operas. Known as "Penny Dreadfuls", they had no claim to literary brilliance but offered readers entertainment and excitement in the form of vice, poverty, wealth, virtue, mystery, romance and scandal in every combination and reached a mass audience.
A ruthless squire becomes obsessed with a younger woman and conspires against her lover, George Fielding, so that the squire can win her. With the squire's financial pressure turned up on his family, George goes to Australia to earn money enough to marry his girl. In the meantime, a young man named Tom Robinson is sent to prison for stealing. For his somewhat minor offense, he suffers severe mistreatment in prison. "It Is Never Too Late to Mend" was written in the 1850s to shed light on abuses in British prison discipline and the treatment of criminals, but is also an adventure yarn set in the gold fields of Australia.
Sarah Orne Jewett
A Country Doctor is a fiction novel by American author Sarah Orne Jewett. The book, which was first published in 1884, was based on the relationship between Jewett and her physician father. The main character of A Country Doctor, Nan, is a young woman who encounters much strife when she decides to go against the traditional values of the day and become a doctor. The book has been listed as an example of the shift in the perception of the role of women in society, with the main character of Nan choosing to pursue her career in medicine rather than a marriage and family
A coming-of-age story about Edwin Clayhanger, who leaves school, has his ambition to become an architect thwarted by his tyrannical father, Darius, and so works in the family printing business. Edwin eventually takes over the business successfully. The story follows Edwin’s relationships with his family and the mysterious Hilda Lessways.It is the first book of four in the Clayhanger series, following Edwin’s life.
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.
Honoré de Balzac
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life is one of the last great works completed by Balzac for his huge novel series entitled The Human Comedy. Sections of this book, in various groupings and with various titles, were published between 1838 and 1847. It eventually settled into the four sections found in the present edition. The French title — Splendeurs et misères des courtesanes — literally, Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans — has also been translated as A Harlot High and Low. The story picks up at the end of Lost Illusions (1843), an earlier novel by Balzac. At the end of that book, Lucien de Rubempré (born Lucien Chardon), a young provincial poet with great ambitions but feeble moral will, was heading for Paris in the company of a mysterious Spanish priest. In the present book, we quickly discover that the "Spanish priest" is actually Jacques Collin, alias "Vautrin," a master criminal first introduced to readers in Balzac's Father Goriot (1835). Lucien develops a relationship with Esther van Gobseck, a prostitute (the "courtesan" of the title). With these three main figures — Lucien, Vautrin, and Esther — Balzac explores the corruption of the aristocracy, the world of prostitution, the courts, and the prisons of 19th-century Paris. With masterful depictions of society and individual psychology, Balzac is considered a father of realism in fiction.
Joseph Conrad was born in former Poland, spent part of his childhood exiled in Russia because of his father's Polish nationalist political activities, learned and read French early, and did not speak a word of English until his late teens. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that when Conrad came to write this, his first novel, it centred on the pain of having a contested sense of identity, the experience of having to choose, in the midst of argument and derision, whether one was really 'this or that'. The Almayer of the story is a morose and hapless trader of Dutch extraction, settled in shambolic poverty on a river in Borneo. He dreams of finding gold inland and taking his mixed-race daughter Nina triumphantly to the Netherlands, where neither of them has ever been. Nina and her strong-willed Filipina mother, however, prove to have quite different loyalties and a quite different plan — though this plan, in turn, soon appears to come unstuck.
This 3rd volume of the Marie Antoinette Romances begins a decade after the close of "The Mesmerist’s Victim” and is based on a real scandal in Louis XVI’s court, commonly called “The Diamond Necklace Affair.” In this volume, the plotting of a powerful occultist, Count Cogliostro (or “Balsamo”), collides with the long-festering resentments of a previous royal house, Jeanne de Valois (de la Motte), a growing popular movement for sociopolitical reform, and a shrinking supply of bread. It is easy to see how converging sociopolitical challenges can threaten the monarchy, but how can the court of Louis XVI overcome these challenges amidst a famine? After all, in the words of his economic advisor, Turgot de l'Aulnes, “Ne vous mêlez pas du pain” (One must not meddle with bread)!
The elderly Brothers Owen, Morgan and Griffith live a quiet, retired life in the countryside, which is turned upside-down by Griffith's ward, the young Jessie Yelverton. Originally, her visit to them was to last only six weeks, but for a very certain reason, the gentlemen must find a way to prolong her visit and get Jessie to stay for ten more days. To make her stay, they promise to tell her an entertaining and exciting story each night...
The author: "This little tale was begun at first merely for my own amusement. It is published that I may reconcile my conscience to the time which it has employed, by making it in some degree useful. Let not the term so implied provoke a smile! If my book is read, its uses to the author are obvious. Nor is a work of fiction necessarily unprofitable to the readers."Jane Austen comments about this novel in a letter to her sister: “I am looking over Self Control again, & my opinion is confirmed of its’ being an excellently-meant, elegantly-written Work…”
Pan tells the story Lieutenant Glahn and his summer in a forest north in Norway. He lives in a hut with his dog Aesop and they spend their days to hunting and fishing. In poetic language, Hamsun paints troubled souls in this gem of a book.The text is devoted to the nature in Nordland as well as the people Glahn meets there, as they deal with love, jealousy, and power struggles. We meet two (equally unreliable) narrators, Lieutenant Glahn in the book itself and a hunting companion in the epilogue, consisting of the last five chapters.
William Henry Hudson
In W.H. Hudson’s first novel, an Englishman wandering on horseback across the pampas finds adventure and romance in Uruguay. The full title became: “The Purple Land: Being the Narrative of One Richard Lamb's Adventures in The Banda Oriental, in South America, as Told By Himself”. In the preface to "The Sun Also Rises", President Teddy Roosevelt said that everyone should read "The Purple Land."
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.
An unscrupulous baronet is left a widower and couldn't care less what happens to his ugly newborn heir. But when an icy stepmother moves in and the child is stolen away by his loving nurse, what can unfold but a riveting account of the years of mystery, drama, love and lessons for which MacDonald's writings are known.
Published in 1812, “The Absentee” by Maria Edgeworth examines social injustice in 19th-century Britain. At that time, the management of many Irish estates suffered from the absenteeism of their Anglo-Irish landlords.
We meet Lord and Lady Clonbrony. Lord Clonbrony struggles with debt, while Lady Clonbrony tries to shed her Irish connections and earn status in London’s high society (known as “the ton.”) Meanwhile, their son, Lord Colambre, is wary of the entanglements of that society and escapes to the family estate in Ireland, where he discovers the abuses that have arisen in the family’s absence.
Maria Edgeworth was a pioneer of realism in fiction, and one of the most successful and popular novelists of her time. She offered satirical portraits of society manners and sympathetic treatment of regional life. Her work won admiration from authors such as Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott. “The Absentee” is named in the reference list “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.”
Rudin is the first and perhaps least known novel by Ivan Turgenev, a famous Russian writer best known for his short stories and the novel Fathers and Sons. The story focuses on a romantic involvement between Rudin and Natalya, a serious, intelligent young woman. The topic of the “superfluous man” and his inability to act, which was a major theme of Turgenev's literary work, is explored.
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.”
In “The Country House”, John Galsworthy explores many of the themes he would later expand upon in his better known, nine-novel, “The Forsyth Saga”. This is a novel of English society as 1900 approaches. A divorce is being threatened in the Pendyce family, whose members are of the landed gentry. Such an event would be an enormous scandal. There is little action. The story paints, in exquisite language, the feelings of each of the six or so main characters. These feelings concern the necessity for family honor and the horror of scandal; the stifling effect of the social mores of the time; the ridiculous complications of the law; and, the threat of the many changes in the social order which seem to be coming. Galsworthy was himself of this privileged class. While he was extremely critical of the social structure of the time, he shows sympathy for those caught in it. Each is constrained to his or her niche; only by major changes in the social code will that be changed. Gaslworthy was very much a social activist in life, as well as on the printed page. He was quite successful in showing the reader how it must have felt to live in one of those social niches.
This 2nd volume of the Marie Antoinette Romances continues the intrigues of "Balsamo, The Magician" and adds to them the schemes of philosophers and the stirrings of revolution. Balsamo (based on the real Count Alessandro di Cagliostro) carries on his occult tactics to weaponize the state secrets that he gained in the previous volume. A serious romance and illness takes root in the court of King Louis XV, convincing one of the leading philosophic minds of the era, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that “the breath of heaven will blast an age and a monarchy.”
The novel titled in Russian "?????????? ??????" (Dvoryanskoye Gnezdo, sometimes translated as Home of the Gentry, A Nest of the Gentlefolk, A Nest of the Gentry) is considered a sequel to "Rudin". It is the story of the protagonist Fyodor Ivanych Lavretsky, a son of a nobleman and a serf, brought up at his family's country estate home by a severe maiden aunt, often thought to be based on Turgenev's own mother, who was known for her cruelty.
The Egoist is a tragi-comical novel by George Meredith published in 1879. The novel recounts the story of self-absorbed Sir Willoughby Patterne and his attempts at marriage; jilted by his first bride-to-be, he vacillates between the sentimental Laetitia Dale and the strong-willed Clara Middleton. More importantly, the novel follows Clara's attempts to escape from her engagement to Sir Willoughby, who desires women to serve as a mirror for him and consequently cannot understand why she would not want to marry him. Thus, The Egoist dramatizes the difficulty contingent upon being a woman in Victorian society, when women's bodies and minds are trafficked between fathers and husbands to cement male bonds.
This book brings together eleven stories, each a case of intrigue where more is going on than seems at first.
Mary E Bradley Lane
After being exiled from her home and family, Vera Zarovich finds herself in Mizora, a civilization at the center of the Earth made up entirely of women. This text recounts her experiences there and what she learns during in time in this "utopian" civilization.
Smoke is an 1867 novel by the highly acclaimed Russian writer Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883) that tells the gripping story of a secret love affair between a young betrothed Russian man and a young married Russian woman, while also delivering in the opening chapters the author's criticism of Russia and Russians of the period. The story takes place largely in the German resort town of Baden-Baden.
Louisa May Alcott
It is one of "several nineteenth-century novels [which] uncovers the changes in women's work in the new industrial era, as well as the dilemmas, tensions, and the meaning of that work" The story depicts the struggles of a young woman trying to support herself. The main character, Christie Devon, works outside the home in a variety of different jobs, but the end of her story marks "the beginning of a new career as a voice and activist for other working women".
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.