Laura, newly married and ever conscious she may be living in the shadow of her husband Alec’s first wife, decides to take a holiday with his family in Cornwall. Through the long hot summer days she is slowly charmed by the beautiful old house and the people she learns to know and love. In time, her uneasy spirit is shooted by the sparkling, brilliant sea and her restless heart is finally calmed.
But is this new-found tranquillity too good to be true? For with the arrival of an anonymous letter, one accusing her of having an affair, Laura’s world is thrown into turmoil . . .
J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter receives an ominous warning from a house-elf at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: if he returns to the school at the end of the summer, terrible things will happen. But return Harry must. His second year begins with a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Quidditch training and the intensification of old rivalries. Then the warning starts to ring true, as mysterious words are daubed on a wall, students are attacked and Ron's sister, Ginny, disappears. And so the search for Salazar Slytherin's heir begins, with the mystery pointing Harry to a clandestine chamber and a deadly creature at its heart...
Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone in feeling discontent. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, and a perverse distaste for the pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress-Huxley's ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.
Ian McEwan - Saturday
Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat. Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.
Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
Great Expectations charts the progress of Pip from childhood through often painful experiences to adulthood, as he moves from the Kent marshes to busy, commercial London, encountering a variety of extraordinary characters ranging from Magwitch, the escaped convict, to Miss Havisham, locked up with her unhappy past and living with her ward, the arrogant, beautiful Estella. Pip must discover his true self, and his own set of values and priorities. Whether such values allow one to prosper in the complex world of early Victorian England is the major question posed by Great Expectations, one of Dickens's most fascinating, and disturbing, novels.
E. L. James - Fifty Shades Freed
When unworldly student Ana Steele first encountered the driven, damaged young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and ultimately repelled by Christian’s singular sexual tastes, Ana demanded a deeper commitment; determined to keep her, Christian agreed. Now, together, they have more – love, passion, intimacy, and a world of infinite possibilities. But Ana always knew that loving her Fifty Shades would not be easy, and being together poses challenges neither of them ever anticipated. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own integrity, identity or independence; Christian must somehow overcome his compulsion to control, and lay to rest the horrors that blighted his past and haunt his present. Just when it seems that together their love can conquer any obstacle, misfortune, malice and fate combine to make Ana’s worst nightmares come true. Alone and desperate, she must face down the poisoned legacy of Christian’s past. Seductive, shocking, sad and funny, Fifty Shades Freed is the compelling final volume in the Fifty Shades trilogy.
E. L. James - Fifty Shades Darker
Daunted by the singular sexual tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades. While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.
J. K. Rowling - The Casual Vacancy
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?
Rosamunde Pilcher - The Shell Seekers
Set in London and Cornwall between World War II and the present, this is the story of the Keeling family, and of the passions and heart-break that have held them together for three generations--a story of life, hope, children and death.
Salman Rushdie - The Satanic Verses
Just before dawn one winter's morning, a hijacked jetliner explodes above the English Channel. Through the falling debris, two figures, Gibreel Farishta, the biggest star in India, and Saladin Chamcha, an expatriate returning from his first visit to Bombay in fifteen years, plummet from the sky, washing up on the snow-covered sands of an English beach, and proceed through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations. The Satanic Verses is a wonderfully erudite study of the evil and good entwined within the hearts of women and men, an epic journey of tears and laughter, served up by a writer at the height of his powers.
Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse
This novel is an extraordinarily poignant evocation of a lost happiness that lives on in the memory. For years now the Ramsays have spent every summer in their holiday home in Scotland, and they expect these summers will go on forever. In this, her most autobiographical novel, Virginia Woolf captures the intensity of childhood longing and delight, and the shifting complexity of adult relationships. From an acute awareness of transcience, she creates an enduring work of art.
Anthony Powell - A Dance to the Music of Time
Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art. In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books "provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.). The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses. Four very different young men on the threshold of manhood dominate this opening volume of A Dance to the Music of Time. The narrator, Jenkins—a budding writer—shares a room with Templer, already a passionate womanizer, and Stringham, aristocratic and reckless. Widermerpool, as hopelessly awkward as he is intensely ambitious, lurks on the periphery of their world. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, these four gain their initiations into sex, society, business, and art. Considered a masterpiece of modern fiction, Powell's epic creates a rich panorama of life in England between the wars.
Joanna Trollope - A Village Affair
This warm and sometimes funny novel, starts off when Alice and her husband buy an old house in a village full of friendly eccentrics. As she settles into her new life, Alice finally finds what she's been searching for--a discovery that scandalizes the village and opens up new wounds.
Joanna Trollope - The Best of Friends
Latest saga from the number one bestselling author, many of her books having transferred to television. Relates the events in the lives of two families, loyal and devoted friends for years. But both marriages become wrecked when one husband leaves, and when comforting goes too far, the other has an affair. Deals with the gradual return to normality, the effect on the children, and includes wonderful characters like the grandmother who finds true love at eighty!
Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders
There’s a serial killer on the loose, murdering his victims in alphabetical order. As a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. With the whole country in a state of panic, and growing more confident with each successful execution – Mrs Ascher in Andover, Betty Barnard in Bexhill, Carmichael Larke in Churston – the murderer’s trail of deliberate clues taunts the proud Poirot. Which might just be his first mistake… ‘A masterwork of carefully concealed artifice… most stunningly original.’ Julian Symons
Agatha Christie - The Big Four
Alone, each was formidable. Together, they were virtually invincible. A brilliant Chinese man, an American millionaire, a French scientist and an elusive master of disguise: the big four join together to plot a criminal conspiracy that shocks even Poirot. As he tracks them down it becomes ever more apparent that this could be his final, fatal case!
Agatha Christie - The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Invalided home from the First World War, Lieutenant Hastings finds himself in a convalescent home very much to his disliking. Thankfully his old friend John Cavendish invites him to spend the rest of his sick leave at his family home. The beautiful Styles Court is home to John’s step mother Mrs Inglethorpe, and her new husband Alfred. Despite the tranquil surroundings Hastings begins to realise that all is not right. When Mrs Inglethorpe is found poisoned a murder investigation begins, and who better to investigate than war refugee Hercule Poirot, a retired Belgian detective.
Lawrence Durrell - The Black Book
Durrell's third work, the original angry young novel, was first published by his good friend and long-time correspondent Henry Miller as the first title in the short-lived "Villa Seurat" imprint of the Paris-based Obelisk Press. Unpublishable by the more staid (and censored) presses across the Channel, no work better captures the anguish and death-consciousness of a Europe about to plunge, once again, into cataclysmic war and destruction. The Black Book first saw print in 1938.
A. S. Byatt - The Children's Book
A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centers around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves. When Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum—a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive’s magical tales—she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends. But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these lives—of adults and children alike—unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end. Taking us from the cliff-lined shores of England to Paris, Munich, and the trenches of the Somme, The Children’s Book is a deeply affecting story of a singular family, played out against the great, rippling tides of the day. It is a masterly literary achievement by one of our most essential writers.
Joanna Trollope - The Rector's Wife
Anna Bouverie is the rector's wife. She irons his surplices (badly), delivers the parish newsletter, and scrimps to get by on a pittance, all the while keeping up appearances. She rarely complains and rarely rebels. But now-as she watches her children do without, as her husband withdraws further into his work, and her frustration mounts into fury-Anna realizes that she's willing to do whatever it takes to save herself..."A novel of large ideas and small touches," (Boston Globe) The Rector's Wife "will be quickly devoured and long remembered" (USA Today).
Terry Pratchett - Nation
One day the world ends... ... Mau is on his way home from the Boys' Island. Soon he will be a man. And then the wave comes - a huge wave, dragging black night behind it and bringing a schooner, the Sweet Judy, which sails over and through the island rainforest. As the ship comes to a crashing halt, only one soul is left alive (or two, if you count parrots). The village has gone. The Nation as it was has gone. Now there's just Mau, who wears barely anything, a trouserman girl who wears far too much, and an awful lot of big misunderstandings. And a lot of not-knowing-what-to-do, or how to even say that. Together they must forge a new Nation out of the broken pieces. Create a new history. But... WHO IS GUARDING THE NATION? WHERE IS OUR BEER? ... the old history isn't going to just lie down and go away, at least not while the Grandfathers still have a voice. And Mau must look into the past before he can face the future. Wise, witty and filled with Terry Pratchett's inimitable comic satire, this is a terrific adventure that - quite literally - turns the world upside down.