Too Much Happiness
Brilliantly paced, lit with sparks of danger and underlying menace, these are dazzling, provocative stories about Svengali men, and radical women who outmanoeuvre them, about destructive marriages and curdled friendships, about mothers and sons, and about moments which change or haunt a life. Alice Munro takes on complex, even harrowing emotions and events, and renders them into stories that surprise, amaze and shed light on the unpredictable ways we accommodate to what happens in our lives. A wife and mother, whose spirit has been crushed, finds release from her extraordinary pain in the most unlikely place. The young victim of a humiliating seduction (which involves reading Housman in the nude) finds an unusual way to get her own back and move on. An older woman, dying of cancer, weaves a poisonous story to save her life. Other stories uncover the 'deep holes' in marriage and their consequences, the dangerous intimacy of girls and the cruelty of children.
The long title story follows Sophia Kovalevsky, a late nineteenth-century Russian emigree and mathematical genius, as she takes a fateful winter journey that begins with a visit to her lover on the Riviera, and ends in Sweden, where she is a professor at the only university willing to hire a woman to teach her subject. Munro's unsettling stories turn lives into art, expand our world and our understanding of the strange workings of the human heart.
The Robber Bride
Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride is inspired by "The Robber Bridegroom," a wonderfully grisly tale from the Brothers Grimm in which an evil groom lures three maidens into his lair and devours them, one by one. But in her version, Atwood brilliantly recasts the monster as Zenia, a villainess of demonic proportions, and sets her loose in the lives of three friends, Tony, Charis, and Roz. All three "have lost men, spirit, money, and time to their old college acquaintance, Zenia. At various times, and in various emotional disguises, Zenia has insinuated her way into their lives and practically demolished them. To Tony, who almost lost her husband and jeopardized her academic career, Zenia is 'a lurking enemy commando.' To Roz, who did lose her husband and almost her magazine, Zenia is 'a cold and treacherous bitch.' To Charis, who lost a boyfriend, quarts of vegetable juice and some pet chickens, Zenia is a kind of zombie, maybe 'soulless'" (Lorrie Moore, New York Times Book Review). In love and war, illusion and deceit, Zenia's subterranean malevolence takes us deep into her enemies' pasts.
The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver's acclaimed international bestseller tells the story of an American missionary family in the Congo during a poignant chapter in African history. It spins the tale of the fierce evangelical Baptist, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters on a missionary journey into the heart of darkness of the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them to Africa all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to the King James Bible - is calamitously transformed on African soil. Told from the perspective of the five women, this is a compelling exploration of African history, religion, family, and the many paths to redemption. The Poisonwood Bible was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 and was chosen as the best reading group novel ever at the Penguin/Orange Awards. It continues to be read and adored by millions worldwide.
"Super-charged, anarchic and full of narrative acrobatics, "Money" burst on to the Eighties literary scene leaving a trail of imitators and devotees in its wake". ("Observer"). This is the story of John Self, consumer extraordinaire. Rolling around New York and London, he makes deals, spends wildly and does reckless movie-world business, all the while grabbing everything he can to sate his massive appetites: alcohol, tobacco, pills, pornography, a mountain of junk food and more. Ceaselessly inventive and thrillingly savage, this is a tale of life lived without restraint; of money, the terrible things it can do and the disasters it can precipitate. "Terribly, terminally funny". ("Guardian").
Les Les Miserables (abridged) (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Classic / British English Jean Valjean is free at last after nineteen years in prison. Cold and hungry, he is rejected by everyone he meets. But Jean's life is changed forever when he discovers love. He spends the rest of his life helping people, like himself, who have been victims of poverty and social injustice - 'les miserables'.
Heart of Darkness
'Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire.'
Marlow, a seaman, tells of a journey up the Congo. His goal is the troubled European and ivory trader Kurtz. Worshipped and feared by invaders as well as natives, Kurtz has become a godlike figure, his presence pervading the jungle like a thick, obscuring mist. As his boat labours further upstream, closer and closer to Kurtz's extraordinary and terrible domain, so Marlow finds his faith in himself and civilization crumbling.
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.