20th Century English Novel and Short Story
Paperback ISBN: 1590174976
Perhaps every novelist harbors a monster at heart, an irrepressible and utterly irresponsible fantasist, not to mention a born and ingenious liar, without which all her art would go for naught. Angel, at any rate, is the story of such a monster. Angelica Deverell lives above her diligent drab mother’s grocery shop in a dreary turn-of-the-century English neighborhood, but spends her days dreaming of handsome Paradise House, where her aunt is enthroned as a maid. But in Angel’s imagination, she is the mistress of the house, a realm of lavish opulence, of evening gowns and peacocks. Then she begins to write popular novels, and this fantasy, and her incredible will to achieve it, becomes her whole life. Angel is confidant, ambitious, selfish, and successful, and she lets no one—mother, aunt, editor, best friend, husband—stand in her way. Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel, unlike Angel’s own novels, is self-aware, funny, and subtly layered. It both sharply satirizes its protagonist and acknowledges the intensity of her imagination and the rigor of her work, all the while seeing her as fully human, complicated, and even sympathetic.
The Juniper Tree
Paperback ISBN: 1681371316
Bella Winter is homeless and jobless. The mother of a toddler by a man whose name she didn’t quite catch, her once pretty face is now marred by a scar from a car accident. She’s recently disentangled herself from a selfish and indifferent boyfriend and a cruel and indifferent mother. But she shares a quality common to Barbara Comyns’s heroines: a bracingly unsentimental ability to carry on. It’s not long before Bella has found not only a job but a vocation; not only a place to live but a home and a makeshift family. As Comyns’s novel progresses, the story echoes and inverts the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale The Juniper Tree. Will Bella’s hard-won restoration to life and love come at the cost of others’ happiness?
Or the Loving Huntsman
Paperback ISBN: 0940322161
In Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner tells of an aging spinster's struggle to break way from her controlling family—a classic story that she treats with cool feminist intelligence, while adding a dimension of the supernatural and strange. Warner is one of the outstanding and indispensable mavericks of twentieth-century literature, a writer to set beside Djuna Barnes and Jane Bowles, with a subversive genius that anticipates the fantastic flights of such contemporaries as Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson.
Paperback ISBN: 168137143x
Years ago, Jane Weatherby had a torrid affair with John Pomfret, the husband of her best friend. Divorces ensued. World War II happened. Prewar partying gave way to postwar austerity, and Jane and John’s now-grown children, Philip and Mary, both as serious and sober as their parents were not, seem earnestly bent on marriage, which John and Jane consider a mistake. The two old lovers conspire against the two young lovers, and nothing turns out quite as expected. Nothing, like the closely related Doting, is a book that is almost entirely composed in dialogue, since in these late novels nothing so interested Green as how words resist, twist, and expose our intentions; how they fail us, lead us on, make fools of us, and may, in spite of ourselves, even save us, at least for a time. Nothing spills over with the bizarre and delicious comedy and poetry of human incoherence.
Paperback ISBN: 1590174909
A plane crashes in the vast Northern Territory of Australia, and the only survivors are two children from Charleston, South Carolina, on their way to visit their uncle in Adelaide. Mary and her younger brother Peter set out on foot, lost in the vast, hot Australian outback. They are saved by a chance meeting with an Aboriginal boy on walkabout, who teaches them to find food and water in the wilderness, but whom Mary can’t bring herself to trust. Though on the surface Walkabout is an adventure story, darker themes lie just beneath. Peter’s innocent friendship with the Aboriginal throws into relief Mary’s no longer childish anxiety, and together raise questions about how Aboriginal and Western culture can meet. And in the vivid descriptions of the natural world, we realize that this story—a deep fairy tale in the spirit of Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal—must also be a story about the closeness of death and the power of nature.
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
Paperback ISBN: 1590172337
Ebenezer Le Page, cantankerous, opinionated, and charming, is one of the most compelling literary creations of the late twentieth century. Eighty years old, Ebenezer has lived his whole life on the Channel Island of Guernsey, a stony speck of a place caught between the coasts of England and France yet a world apart from either. Ebenezer himself is fiercely independent, but as he reaches the end of his life he is determined to tell his own story and the stories of those he has known. He writes of family secrets and feuds, unforgettable friendships and friendships betrayed, love glimpsed and lost. The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is a beautifully detailed chronicle of a life, but it is equally an oblique reckoning with the traumas of the twentieth century, as Ebenezer recalls both the men lost to the Great War and the German Occupation of Guernsey during World War II, and looks with despair at the encroachments of commerce and tourism on his beloved island. G. B. Edwards labored in obscurity all his life and completed The Book of Ebenezer Le Page shortly before his death. Published posthumously, the book is a triumph of the storyteller’s art that conjures up the extraordinary voice of a living man. "Imagine a weekend spent in deep conversation with a superb old man, a crusty, intelligent, passionate and individualistic character at the peak of his powers as a raconteur, and you will have a very good ideas of the impact of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page...It amuses, it entertains, it moves us...” –The Washington Post "A true epic, as sexy as it is hilarious, it seems drenched with the harsh tidal beauties of its setting...For every person nearing retirement, every latent writer who hopes to leave his island and find the literary mainland, its author–quiet, self-sufficient, tidy Homeric–remains a patron saint." –Allan Gurganus, O Magazine
Paperback ISBN: 1681370123
During the Blitz, Henry Green served on the London Fire Brigade, and this experience lies behindCaught, published in 1942, when the bombing had only recently ended. Like Green, Richard Roe, the hero of this resolutely unheroic book, comes from the upper class. His wife remains at their country estate, far from the threatened city, while Roe serves under Pye, a professional fireman whose deranged sister once kidnapped Roe’s young son, a bad memory that complicates the relationship between these two very different men. The book opens as the various members of the Fire Brigade are having practice runs and fighting boredom and falling into bed with each other in the months before the attack from the air. It ends with Roe, who has been injured in the bombing, back in the country, describing and trying to come to terms with the apocalyptic conflagration, in which he and his fellows were caught, putting into question the very notion of ordinary life. Caught was censored at the insistence of its publisher, Leonard Woolf, when it first came out. This is the first American edition of the book to appear as Green intended.
Paperback ISBN: 1590172922
The Chrysalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. David, the young hero of the novel, lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists, who exist in a state of constant alert for any deviation from what they perceive as the norm of God’s creation, deviations broadly classified as “offenses” and “blasphemies.” Offenses consist of plants and animals that are in any way unusual, and these are publicly burned to the accompaniment of the singing of hymns. Blasphemies are human beings—ones who show any sign of abnormality, however trivial. They are banished from human society, cast out to live in the wild country where, as the authorities say, nothing is reliable and the devil does his work. David grows up surrounded by admonitions: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD; WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT. At first he hardly questions them, though he is shocked when his sternly pious father and rigidly compliant mother force his aunt to forsake her baby. It is a while before he realizes that he too is out of the ordinary, in possession of a power that could doom him to death or introduce him to a new, hitherto-unimagined world of freedom. The Chrysalids is a perfectly conceived and constructed work from the classic era of science fiction. It is a Voltairean philosophical tale that has as much resonance in our own day, when genetic and religious fundamentalism are both on the march, as when it was written during the Cold War.
A High Wind in Jamaica
Paperback ISBN: 0940322153
Presents the story of children sent to England after a hurricane destroys their parents' Jamaican estate; after a pirate attack, the children are accidentally placed on a pirate vessel, and they adjust to life on the pirate ship.