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The Very Best Books

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The painful beauty in Tartt and Waugh's stories, and the great character within Smith's, Austen's and Bronte's make these novels the very best. 

Persuasion

'She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older - the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.' Anne Elliot seems to have given up on present happiness and has resigned herself to living off her memories. More than seven years earlier she complied with duty: persuaded to view the match as imprudent and improper, she broke off her engagement to a naval captain with neither fortune, ancestry, nor prospects. However, when peacetime arrives and brings the Navy home, and Anne encounters Captain Wentworth once more, she starts to believe in second chances. Persuasion celebrates romantic constancy in an era of turbulent change. Written as the Napoleonic Wars were ending, the novel examines how a woman can at once remain faithful to her past and still move forward into the future. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. .

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The Goldfinch

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph - a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.

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Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited is Evelyn Waugh's stunning novel of duty and desire set amongst the decadent, faded glory of the English aristocracy in the run-up to the Second World War.The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh's novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder's infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian Flyte at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognise his spiritual and social distance from them.Evelyn Waugh (1903-66) was born in Hampstead, second son of Arthur Waugh, publisher and literary critic, and brother of Alec Waugh, the popular novelist. In 1928 he published his first work, a life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies (1930), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). In 1939 he was commissioned in the Royal Marines and later transferred to the Royal Horse Guards, serving in the Middle East and in Yugoslavia. In 1942 he published Put Out More Flags and then in 1945 Brideshead Revisited. Men at Arms (1952) was the first volume of 'The Sword of Honour' trilogy, and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; the other volumes, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender, followed in 1955 and 1961.If you enjoyed Brideshead Revisited, you might like Waugh's Vile Bodies, also available in Penguin Classics.'Lush and evocative ... Expresses at once the profundity of change and the indomitable endurance of the human spirit'The Times

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On Beauty

Zadie Smith's On Beauty is a funny, powerful and moving story about love and family Why do we fall in love with the people we do? Why do we visit our mistakes on our children? What makes life truly beautiful?Set in New England mainly and London partly, On Beauty concerns a pair of feuding families - the Belseys and the Kipps - and a clutch of doomed affairs. It puts low morals among high ideals and asks some searching questions about what life does to love. For the Belseys and the Kipps, the confusions - both personal and political - of our uncertain age are about to be brought close to home: right to the heart of family.'The novel I didn't want to finish, I was enjoying it so much' John Sutherland, Evening Standard'Thrums with intellectual sass and know-how' Literary Review'Delightfully entertaining . . . filled with humour, generosity and contemporary sparkle' Alex Clark, Daily Telegraph 'My novel of the year . . . Delicious' Liz Jones, Evening Standard'Satirical, wise and sexy' Washington Post'Heartstopping' The Times Literary Supplement'A triumph, Smith's comedy shines' Daily Mail'Ambitious, hugely impressive, beautifully observed' Guardian

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Jane Eyre

One of the greatest gothic love stories of all time, JANE EYRE tells of a lowly, plain governess who falls in love with the dashing Mr Rochester - who hides a terrible secret. An epic romance set on the Yorkshire moors, and a book that young girls will return to again and again.

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