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.
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!.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
A Family-drama in three acts. Like many of Ibsen's better-known plays, Ghosts is a scathing commentary on 19th century morality.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir
Set during the Hundred Years' War with France, The White Company tells the story of a young Saxon man who is learning what it is to be a knight. Raised by Cistercian Monks and rejected by a violent elder brother, Alleyn Edricson takes service with one of the foremost knights in the country. When Alleyn falls in love with the knight's daughter, he must prove himself to be a courageous and honourable knight before he can win her hand. Alleyn and his friends set forth with the other men-at-arms to join Prince Edward in Bordeaux, from where they will take part in the Prince's campaign into Spain. It is in Spain that Alleyn and others must prove themselves to be very valiant and hardy cavaliers.
A wayside tavern where the local men drink and gossip; an unsolved, twenty year old murder at a nearby mansion; a very talkative black raven; a London locksmith and his family; a man apparently returned from the dead; a hangman who enjoys his job way too much; an anti-Catholic lord; a large and violent mob; and the British Militia—what do all these things have in common? All have, in some way, touched or been touched by the loveable, young, simple-minded “idiot,” Barnaby Rudge.
Barnaby’s good nature makes him a joy to most who know him Unfortunately, his eagerness to please and his gullibility make him an easy prey for the unscrupulous. Can he emerge unscathed when once he gets tangled up with the wrong crowd?
Once again, Dickens has managed to temper the horrific with his characteristic wit and humor, as he tells this tale based on the "no-popery" or Gordon riots of 1780.
One of the two Historical novels Charles Dickens wrote, Barnaby Rudge is set around the ‘Gordon’ riots in London in 1780. The story begins in 1775 with Barnaby, his Mother, and his talking Raven Grip, fleeing their home from a blackmailer, and going into hiding. Joe Willet similarly finds he must leave his home to escape his Father’s ire, leaving behind the woman he loves. Five years later these characters, and many others whose lives we have followed, find themselves caught up in the horrific Protestant rioting led by Sir George Gordon. The mob which reaches 100,000 strong, gets out of hand, and there is danger to all in the path of their destruction. Charles Dickens skillfully weaves the lives of his many loving and many wicked characters through the rioting, and shows how this uprising changes so many lives. As a side note, Edgar Allan Poe is said to have been inspired by Barnaby’s raven Grip when he wrote his famous poem,”The Raven”.
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."
The Young Visiters is a comic romance novella that parodies upper class society of late Victorian England. Social climber Alfred Salteena introduces his young lady friend Ethel to a genuine gentleman named Bernard and, to his irritation, they hit it off. But Bernard helps Alfred in his plan to become a gentleman, which, Alfred hopes, will help him win back Ethel.
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.
Service, Robert W.
Volunteers bring you 13 recordings of The Spell of the Yukon by Robert W. Service. This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for December 27th, 2009.
Scott, Walter, Sir
The Talisman is a gripping tale set near the end of the Third Crusade. King Richard the Lionheart is grievously ill, and all around him the leaders from allied countries plot and scheme to gain personal power, putting the future of the crusade in jeopardy. Sir Kenneth of Scotland finds himself caught up in events, and finds both his honour and his life are now on the line. Can a cure be found for the King? Can Kenneth redeem his honour? – Written by Rowen.
Lizzie Greystock, a fortune-hunter who ensnares the sickly, dissipated Sir Florian Eustace, is soon left a very wealthy widow and mother. While clever and beautiful, Lizzie has several character flaws; the greatest of these is an almost pathological delight in lying, even when it cannot benefit her. Before he dies, the disillusioned Sir Florian discovers all this, but does not think to change the generous terms of his will.
The diamonds of the book's title are a necklace, a Eustace family heirloom that Sir Florian gave to Lizzie to wear. Lizzie attempts to hold onto them, much to the irritation of the longtime family lawyer, Mr Camperdown. The Eustaces find themselves in an awkward position. On the one hand, the diamonds are a valuable heirloom to which Lizzie may not have a legal claim, but on the other, they do not want to antagonize the mother of the heir to the family estate (Lizzie having only a life interest).
Meanwhile, after a respectable period of mourning, Lizzie searches for another husband, and "the plot thickens".
'The Forsyte Saga' is the story of a wealthy London family stretching from the eighteen-eighties until the nineteen-twenties. The Man of Property is the first book in the saga. The 'man of property' of the title is Soames Forsyte, a partner in the family law firm. He is married to Irene but the marriage is not happy and during the book she falls in love with another man.
Another branch of the family is headed by 'Old Jolyon,' estranged from his bohemian artist son 'Young Jolyon' and the story tells of their rapprochement and of Young Jolyon's daughter June who is engaged to an architect Philip Bosinney.
For those familiar with the Forsytes, this book takes us up to the night when Soames exercises his 'rights' and to the death of Bosinney.
The Prime Minister is the fifth in Trollope's series of six Palliser novels. With Phineas' difficulties resolved, Trollope introduces new characters. A respectable young girl forsakes the man her family had always intended her to marry when she falls in love with a man of foreign extraction and an unknown family. He has a gentleman's education and manners, but his family background and financial means are mysterious. Is he really a gentleman? Meanwhile, Plantagenet Palliser becomes Prime Minister of a shaky coalition government, and Glencora and Madame Goessler are busy with the ensuing social obligations.
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.
McSpadden, J. Walker
Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes. The origin of the legend is claimed by some to have stemmed from actual outlaws, or from ballads or tales of outlaws.
After The Three Muskateers and Twenty Years After the adventurous story of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan continues!
The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (French: Le Vicomte de Bragelonne ou Dix ans plus tard) is the last of the Musketeer novels. It is usually divided into four volumes and this second volume contains chapters 76-140.
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle is historical fiction that transports us back to the 1400's, a time of knighthood and chivalry. Myles Falworth is eight years old when news comes they must flee their home. His blind father is accused of treason. We see Myles grow up, train as a knight, and with perseverance, clear his father of any wrong-doing and restore their family name.
Cather, Willa Sibert
The novel tells the stories of an orphaned boy from Virginia, Jim Burden, and the elder daughter in a family of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia Shimerda, who are each brought as children to be pioneers in Nebraska towards the end of the 19th century.
Phineas Finn is the fourth in Trollope's series of six Palliser novels. At the end of Phineas Finn, the second novel in the series, Phineas had returned to Ireland and married his childhood sweetheart after having left the House of Commons. As Phineas Redux opens, Phineas is working as a Poorhouse Inspector in Ireland. His wife having died in childbirth, he finds his existence dull and unsatisfying. Phineas' returns to England; his career advances and his romantic adventures continue, while we encounter many familiar characters including Glencora and Plantagenet Palliser, Madame Goesler, and Lizzie Eustace and her husband the Reverand Mr. AEmelius.
The American Claimant is an 1892 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The story focuses on the class differences and expectations of monarchic, hierarchical Britain and the upstart, "all men are created equal" America. Twain wrote the novel with the help of phonographic dictation, the first author (according to Twain himself) to do so. This was also (according to Twain) an attempt to write a book without mention of the weather, the first of its kind in fictitious literature. Indeed, all the weather is contained in an appendix, at the back of the book, which the reader is encouraged to turn to from time to time.
Travel along as Mike Vendetti aka miketheauctioneer narrates an outstanding true account of a trip made in 1909 by Zane Grey and a plainsman, Buffalo Jones, through the Grand Canyon to lasso a cougar. That’s right lasso. Throw a rope around. That’s equivalent to catching one by the tail.
As I narrated this book, I found fact to be as exciting as fiction. This part of the west was relatively wild and untamed at this time. Wolves, wild horses, buffalo and other wildlife were quite prevalent, and the Indians were not that friendly.
This adventure would never make it to “Animal Planet”, or as a National Geographic special, because there is quite a lot of what we would consider cruelty to animals, but this is a true story, and life as it was at the turn of the last century. Parts of this story will offend the sensibilities of some, but it is a glimpse into a world that no longer exists. I was definitely drawn into this story, as I hope the listener will be.
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.
Orczy, Emmuska, Baroness
El Dorado, by Baroness Orczy is a sequel book to the classic adventure tale, The Scarlet Pimpernel. It was first published in 1913. The novel is notable in that it is the partial basis for most of the film treatments of the original book.
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, published in 1748. It tells the tragic story of a heroine whose quest for virtue is continually thwarted by her family, and is the longest real novel in the English language.
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir
"This novel is written by the author of, among other novels, the Stories of Sherlock Holmes. It is narrated by John Fothergill West, who tries to discover why the tenant of Cloomber Hall, General Heatherstone, is nervous to the point of being paranoid. Why are his fears becoming stronger every year at the fifth of October? And why doesn't he let his children leave home? This is a great mystery novel with a sharp twist at the end."
The experiences in public school, Sandhurst and military life in India of Major George Cotter together with his adventures in the dream world he discovers and frequents.
Ainsworth, William Harrison
Book 1 - Ann Boleyn. The focus of the novels is on the events surrounding Henry VIII's replacing Catherine of Aragon with Anne Boleyn as his wife. During Henry's pursuit of Boleyn, the novel describes other couples, including the Earl of Surrey and Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a match Henry does not support. However, some of the individuals oppose Henry and his desires for Boleyn, including Thomas Wyat who wants her for himself and Cardinal Wolsey, who uses his own daughter, Mabel Lyndwood, to lure Henry away from Boleyn. [...] Intertwined with the Court is the story of Herne the Hunter, a spirit of Windsor Forest. He is an evil force that seeks to take the souls of various individuals, and Henry tries to stop him, but is never able to do so.
Padre Ignacio has been the pastor of California mission Santa Ysabel del Mar for twenty years. In 1855 a stranger rides into the mission bringing news and a spiritual crisis. It's really more of a novella than a novel.
Written primarily for children, James Baikie's 'peep' at ancient Egypt is a really well done, historical account of the ways of that fascinating land so many years ago. It has stood well the test of time, being both well researched and well written. It's a fun book for everyone, and families especially will enjoy listening together.
Set during the Napoleonic Wars, this story features two French Hussar officers, D'Hubert and Feraud. Their quarrel over an initially minor incident turns into a bitter, long-drawn out struggle over the following fifteen years, interwoven with the larger conflict that provides its backdrop. At the beginning, Feraud is the one who jealously guards his honor and repeatedly demands satisfaction anew when a duelling encounter ends inconclusively; he aggressively pursues every opportunity to locate and duel his foe. As the story progresses, D'Hubert also finds himself caught up in the contest, unable to back down or walk away.
This Conrad short story evidently has its genesis in the real duels that two French Hussar officers fought in the Napoleonic era. Their names were Dupont and Fournier, which Conrad disguised slightly, changing Dupont into D'Hubert and Fournier into Feraud. In 1977, it was turned into a movie, "The Duellists", starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel.
Braddon, Mary Elizabeth
This is one of the Victorian “Sensationist” Mary Elizabeth Braddon's many novels (best known among them: “Lady Audley’s Secret”). It is extremely well written, fluid, humorous and, in places, self-mocking: one of the main characters is a Sensation Author. The motifs of the-woman-with-a-secret, adultery, and death are classic “sensationist” material. Yet this is also a self-consciously serious work of literature, taking on various social themes of the day. Specifically, Braddon presents the psychological struggle and cognitive dissonance which are the inevitable plight of the married middle-class woman with a strong sense of self, who is essentially constrained to live the life of her husband. In this, it echoes Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary.”
The heroine, Isabel Sleaford, was driven early in her childhood to bury herself in, and develop her sense of self through, romantic novels and poetry. She is thus ill-adapted to the conventional, provincial structures and strictures laid upon her when she marries the very good and adoring, but also boring and unimaginative, Dr. George Gilbert. Isabel forms friendships with men (including her husband's best friend) who are more amenable to her romantic inclinations, and inevitably encounters social condemnation as a result. The book shows how life’s tragedies and the world’s cruel judgments shape Isabel, as she grows more mature, somewhat embittered, but also – true to her nature – beautifully resilient.
White, Stewart Edward
Stewart Edward White wrote fiction and non-fiction about adventure and travel, with an emphasis on natural history and outdoor living. White's books were popular at a time when America was losing its vanishing wilderness and many are based on his experiences in mining and lumber camps. The Blazed Trail is the story of early lumbermen in the northern woods of Michigan. The novel portrays the challenges faced by the workers focusing on one, Harry Thorpe, as he endeavors to be successful though completely unskilled when he enters the woods. The author mixes the splendor of nature with suspense, danger, and romance and provides glimpses into corrupt practices in the lumber industry at the time.
This satire on the U.S.A.'s myth of being the "Home of the Oppressed, where all men are free and equal", is unrelenting in its pursuit of justice through exposure. It draws a scathingly shameful portrait of how Chinese immigrants were treated in 19th century San Francisco.
Barrie, J. M.
Short stories with dramatic parts about civilian life in London during the First World War. Some humorous moments. By the author of "Peter Pan".
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.