A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a historical novel by Charles Dickens; it is moreover a moral novel strongly concerned with themes of guilt, shame, redemption and patriotism.
The plot centers on the years leading up to French Revolution and culminates in the Jacobin Reign of Terror. It tells the story of two men, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, who look very alike but are entirely different in character.
A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it is among the most famous works of fiction.
The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events. The most notable are Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Carton is a dissipated British barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of his unrequited love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.
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.
Oliver Twist is an 1838 novel by Charles Dickens. It was originally published as a serial.
Like most of Dickens' work, the book is used to call the public's attention to various contemporary social evils, including the workhouse, child labour and the recruitment of children as criminals. The novel is full of sarcasm and dark humour, even as it treats its serious subject, revealing the hypocrisies of the time.
It has been the subject of numerous film and television adaptations, and the basis for a highly successful British musical, Oliver!.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is a novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe which treats slavery as a central theme. Stowe was a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Academy and an active abolitionist. The novel is believed to have had a profound effect on the North's view of slavery. First published on March 20, 1852, the story focuses on the tale of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave, the central character around whose life the other characters—both fellow slaves and slave owners—revolve. The novel depicts the harsh reality of slavery while also showing that Christian love and faith can overcome even something as evil as enslavement of fellow human beings.
(Summary from wikipedia)
Note From the Reader:
The listener is about to enter a world rich with diverse characters. In order to differentiate between the characters, the reader has given each, his/her own voice. As an adult male reader, however, the reader's representation of women and children will, necessarily be less than adequate. He asks for your indulgence.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The work is a very early example of time travel in literature, anticipating by six years H. G. Wells' The Time Machine of 1895 (however, unlike Wells, Twain does not give any real explanation of his protagonist's traveling in time). Some early editions are entitled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur.
Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn
North and South is a social novel that tries to show the industrial North and its conflicts in the mid-19th century as seen by an outsider, a socially sensitive lady from the South. The story: the heroine, Margaret Hale, is the daughter of a Nonconformist minister who moves to the fictional industrial town of Milton after leaving the Church of England. The town is modeled after Manchester, where Gaskell lived as the wife of a Unitarian minister. The change of lifestyle shocks Margaret, who sympathizes deeply with the poverty of the workers and comes into conflict with John Thornton, the owner of a local mill, also a friend of her father. After an encounter with a group of strikers, in which Margaret attempts to protect Thornton from the violence, he proposes to her, telling her that he is in love with her; she rejects his proposal of marriage, mainly because she sees it as if it were out of obligation for what she had done. Later, he sees her with her fugitive brother, whom he mistakes for another suitor, and this creates further unresolved conflict. Margaret, once she believes she has lost his affection, begins to see him in another light, and eventually they are reunited.
Scott, Walter, Sir
Follows the fortunes of the son of a noble Saxon family in Norman England as he woos his lady, disobeys his father, and is loved by another. Set in late 12C England and in Palestine with Richard Cœur-de-Lion at the Crusades, it's another ripping historical yarn by Scott
This is a short novel published in 1895 and based vaguely on the battle of Chancellorsville of the American Civil War. Unlike other works on the subject, Crane's novel does not concentrate on the big picture or the glory of war but on the psychology of one of its soldiers.
Orczy, Emmuska, Baroness
The classic story of Sir Percy Blakeney and his alter ego, the Scarlet Pimpernel. A great adventure, set during the French Revolution.
In this, the last of the Three Musketeers novels, Dumas builds on the true story of a mysterious prisoner held incognito in the French penal system, forced to wear a mask when seen by any but his jailer or his valet. If you have skipped the novels between The Three Musketeers and this, a few notes will bring you into the story:
On one side – Aramis, now a bishop and secretly the Captain-General of the Jesuit Order, who believes he has found a path to a higher honor – the papacy. Monsieur Fouquet, the vastly rich minister of finance, Aramis’ ally. Philippe, the identical twin of King Louis XIV, who grew up in ignorance of his pedigree, and whose surrogate parents were murdered on the king’s order and himself sent into the notorious Paris prison, the Bastille, there held in solitary confinement.
On the other side – King Louis XIV, selected as the twin who would be king by his mother, and who intends that his brother will never challenge him. Monsieur Colbert, first minister, who is jealous of Fouquet and plots his downfall.
Unaligned and in danger of collateral damage – d’Artagnan, now captain of the King’s Musketeers and so the king’s chief defender, who suspects plots running beneath the surface and who is trying to unearth them. Athos, now the Comte (Count) de la Fer and one of the most respected noblemen of France. Raoul, Athos’ son and vicomte (viscount), desperately in love with Mademoiselle de la Valliere, who the king has taken as his mistress. Porthos, grown extremely stout and happy as the Baron du Vallon.
Aramis discovers the hidden Philippe and hatches a plot to substitute him for the sitting king, putting Louis in Philippe’s cell in the Bastille. This even succeeds… for a short while. But Aramis has not reckoned with a man whose loyalty to the throne exceeds his own welfare and who disastrously reverses the plot. Now it is time for the plotters to scurry to cover, there to figure some way to recover their lost ambitions.
Three Sisters is a naturalistic play about the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in the modern world. It describes the lives and aspirations of the Prozorov family, the three sisters (Olga, Masha, and Irina) and their brother Andrei. They are a family dissatisfied and frustrated with their present existence. The sisters are refined and cultured young women who grew up in urban Moscow; however for the past eleven years they have been living in a small provincial town. Moscow is a major symbolic element: the sisters are always dreaming of it and constantly express their desire to return. They identify Moscow with their happiness, and thus to them it represents the perfect life. However as the play develops Moscow never materializes and they all see their dreams recede further and further. Meaning never presents itself and they are forced to seek it out for themselves. (Summary by wikipedia)
This is the first of five volumes. - Giacomo Casanova (1725 in Venice – 1798 in Dux, Bohemia, now Duchcov, Czech Republic) was a famous Venetian adventurer, writer, and womanizer. He used charm, guile, threats, intimidation, and aggression, when necessary, to conquer women, sometimes leaving behind children or debt. In his autobiography Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life), regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century, he mentions 122 women with whom he had sex.
Although he is often associated with Don Juan because both seduced many women, Casanova is in fact very different from his fictitious counterpart. While Don Juan is a legend, Casanova is a historical character.
Cooper, James Fenimore
This story is set in the British province of New York during the French and Indian War, and concerns a Huron massacre (with passive French acquiescence) of from 500 to 1,500 unarmed Anglo-American troops, who had honorably surrendered at Fort William Henry, plus some women and servants; the kidnapping of two sisters, daughters of the British commander; and their rescue by Hawkeye, the last two Mohicans, and others. Parts of the story may have been derived from the capture and death of Jane McCrea in July 1777 near Fort Edward, New York, by members of an Algonquian tribe.
Gogol, Nikolai Vasilievich
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer, was first published in 1842, and is one of the most prominent works of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an "epic poem in prose", and within the book as a "novel in verse". Despite supposedly completing the trilogy's second part, Gogol destroyed it shortly before his death. Although the novel ends in mid-sentence (like Sterne's Sentimental Journey), it is usually regarded as complete in the extant form.
In Russia before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, landowners were entitled to own serfs to farm their land. Serfs were for most purposes considered the property of the landowner, and could be bought, sold, or mortgaged against, as any other chattel. To count serfs (and people in general), the measure word "soul" was used: e.g., "six souls of serfs". The plot of the novel relies on "dead souls" (i.e., "dead serfs") which are still accounted for in property registers. On another level, the title refers to the "dead souls" of Gogol's characters, all of which visualise different aspects of poshlost (an untranslatable Russian word which is perhaps best rendered as "self-satisfied inferiority", moral and spiritual, with overtones of middle-class pretentiousness, fake significance, and philistinism). (Summary from Wikipedia)
It was published in 1893–1894 by Century Magazine in seven installments, and is a detective story with some racial themes. The plot of this novel is a detective story, in which a series of identities — the judge's murderer, Tom, Chambers — must be sorted out. This structure highlights the problem of identity and one's ability to determine one's own identity. Broader issues of identity are the central ideas of this novel.
Twain's multiple plots and thrown-together style do serve to inform a central set of issues, with the twins, Pudd'nhead, and Tom and Chambers all serving as variations on a theme. The themes are slavery, tradition, and nature vs. nurture. To a lesser extent, Southern society and first impressions are also touched upon, and the novel is one of the first to use fingerprints as a means of unique identification, as it was not until 1897 that the world's first Fingerprint Bureau opened in Calcutta.
One of Twain's major goals in this book was to exploit the true nature of Racism at that period. Twain used comic relief as a way to divulge his theme. The purpose of a comic relief is to address his or her opinion in a less serious way, yet persuade the reader into thinking the writers thoughts. Twain's use of satire is visible throughtout the book. Twain's use of colloquialism(dialect) and local color as features of Naturalism to convey his theme, is impressive and ahead for his time.(Summary by Wikipedia)
A Family-drama in three acts. Like many of Ibsen's better-known plays, Ghosts is a scathing commentary on 19th century morality.
Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ "Book 1" gives a sideline view of events taking pace around the days of Christ. Book 1 gives the account of Christ's birth. (Summary by MHAIJH85)
Ben-Hur is a story of two very different heroes. Judah Ben-Hur, a prince of Jerusalem, is involved in an accident to the Roman procurator which is taken to be intentional. He is seized and sent to the fleet as a galley-slave, while his family is imprisoned and the family goods confiscated. When Ben-Hur saves the fleet captain from drowning after his ship is sunk in a fight with pirates, that officer adopts him as son and heir. With Roman training, Ben-Hur distinguishes himself in the arena and the palistrae and appears to be on the way to high military command.With the help of a faithful family retainer and a generous Arab sheik, Ben-Hur is enabled to take part in a widely touted chariot race, where one of the other charioteers is the boyhood friend who connived to punish him for the accident and split his estate. That rival is crippled, financially and bodily, in a no-holds-barred race (memorable from the 1959 movie with Charlton Heston).Ben-Hur turns his attention to the prophesied King of the Jews, when through the sheik he meets Balthasar, one of the Three Wise Men, and hears of the child born years ago. Will Ben-Hur be the general who brings victories to the King, and finally liberates Israel from the oppressive Roman yoke? In his quest for the answer, Ben-Hur seeks out the Nazarene, now rumored to be The Messiah.THAT hero needs no introduction.Curious about the lack of kingly trappings and ambitions about this man, Ben-Hur begins to suspect that his kingdom is not of this world. And with him, we receive a gut-wrenching eye-witness view of Jesus’ arrest, humiliation, and crucifixion.
Scaramouche is a romantic adventure and tells the story of a young aristocrat during the French Revolution. His successive endeavors as a lawyer, politician, actor, lover, and buffoon lead his enemies to call him "Scaramouche" (also called Scaramuccia, a roguish character in the commedia dell'arte), but he impresses many with his elegant orations and precision swordsmanship. The later film version includes one of the longest, and many believe, best swashbuckling sword-fighting scenes ever filmed.
The novel has a memorable start (Book I: The Robe, Chapter I, 'The Republican'): "He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. And that was all his patrimony. His very paternity was obscure, although the village of Gavrillacs had long since dispelled the cloud of mystery that hung about it."
(Summary by Gord)
Maugham, W. Somerset
This Maugham novel is based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin. The story is told by the narrator as he gradually comes to know the main character Charles Strickland, a middle aged stock broker. We follow Strickland from the point where he abruptly abandons his wife and children to become an artist, through his life in Paris and Marseille to Tahiti where he eventually dies of leprosy (Summary by Andy Minter)>This Maugham novel is based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin. The story is told by the narrator as he gradually comes to know the main character Charles Strickland, a middle aged stock broker. We follow Strickland from the point where he abruptly abandons his wife and children to become an artist, through his life in Paris and Marseille to Tahiti, where he eventually dies of leprosy. (Summary by Andy Minter)
Also known simply as "1601", this is a humorously risque work by Mark Twain, first published anonymously in 1880, and finally acknowledged by the author in 1906.
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.