Set in fourth-century B.C. Greece, The Mask of Apollo is narrated by Nikeratos, a tragic actor who takes with him on all his travels a gold mask of Apollo, a relic of the theater’s golden age, which is now past. At first his mascot, the mask gradually becomes his conscience, and he refers to it his gravest decisions, when he finds himself at the center of a political crisis in which the philosopher Plato is also involved. Much of the action is set in Syracuse, where Plato’s friend Dion is trying to persuade the young tyrant Dionysios the Younger to accept the rule of law. Through Nikeratos’ eyes, the reader watches as the clash between the two looses all the pent-up violence in the city.
Kady Cross - The Girl in the Steel Corset
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one...except the "thing" inside her... When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a fullgrown man with one punch.... Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret. Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.
A. S. Byatt - The Virgin in the Garden
Antonia Byatt's glittering, stylish novel is set in Yorkshire in 1952. And, as the inhabitants of the area set about celebrating the accession of a new Queen with the production of _Astraea_, a verse drama celebrating the great Virgin Queen, the new Elizabethan age is seen to be a curious distortion of that older, fertile age.
Julie Otsuka - The Buddha in the Attic
Julie Otsuka’s long awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine (“To watch Emperor catching on with teachers and students in vast numbers is to grasp what must have happened at the outset for novels like Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird” —The New York Times) is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as ‘picture brides’ nearly a century ago. In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war. In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream.
Henryk Sienkiewicz - Quo Vadis? (angol)
IN the trilogy “With Fire and Sword,” “The Deluge,” and “Pan Michael,” Sienkiewicz has given pictures of a great and decisive epoch in modern history. The results of the struggle begun under Bogdan Hmelnitski have been felt for more than two centuries, and they are growing daily in importance. The Russia which rose out of that struggle has become a power not only of European but of world-wide significance, and, to all human seeming, she is yet in an early stage of her career. In “Quo Vadis” the author gives us pictures of opening scenes in the conflict of moral ideas with the Roman Empire,—a conflict from which Christianity issued as the leading force in history. The Slays are not so well known to Western Europe or to us as they are sure to be in the near future; hence the trilogy, with all its popularity and merit, is not appreciated yet as it will be. The conflict described in “Quo Vadis” is of supreme interest to a vast number of persons reading English; and this book will rouse, I think, more attention at first than anything written by Sienkiewicz hitherto.
Mary Jo Putney - A Distant Magic
Mary Jo Putney's passionate, vivid characters and captivating stories have earned enthusiastic acclaim from reviewers and readers everywhere. Now the New York Times bestselling author weaves a new tale in the Guardian series - a dazzling romantic fantasy that takes readers not only from the elegant streets of London to a dangerously tempting Mediterranean island but across time. Jean Macrae's family is one of the most prominent clans of Guardians, humans whose magical powers come from nature, but Jean considers her skills modest at best. She has never been able to summon the intense, earth-altering ability that has marked the most talented Guardians, and she is content without the adventure that such skill brings . . . until the day she is confronted by a handsome stranger whose magic imprisons her on his pirate ship. Captain Nikolai Gregorio is convinced that Jean's father abandoned him, as a child, to slavers. Now he seeks vengeance against the Macraes, no matter the cost. But Jean soon finds his untrained magical gifts far more dangerous than his thirst for revenge, especially when they intensify her own powers to an unthinkable - and enticing - degree. And when Jean and Nikolai's irresistible connection summons a woman from the future, they are charged with a formidable task: protect those who will oppose slavery's evil and forever change the future of two nations. This quest will sweep Jean and Nikolai into the most fantastic of realms and try their powers beyond even what the Guardians themselves would dare. And when ultimate disaster threatens, they will stake everything on a shattering test of love that could secure the fate of generations . . . or destroy them and all they cherish.
Michael Morpurgo - Farm Boy
Set on a farm in rural Devon, Farm Boy is a collection of Grandpa’s reminiscences and stories touchingly told to his grandson. Superbly told by a master storyteller and stunningly illustrated by Michael Foreman – an exquisite book. Joey was the last working horse on the farm, and the apple of Grandpa’s eye. In War Horse, published twelve years ago, Joey was sent away from the farm to be a warhorse in WWI. Grandpa had joined the cavalry in order to find, and fight, with Joey. Farm Boy brings us forward fifty years with Grandpa not only telling his grandson, Joey’s story but also a ‘shameful secret’ which he has held for years – Grandpa has never learned to read and write. The story is set in Iddesleigh in Devon and lovingly evokes the bonds between farm and farmer; grandson and grandfather. The spirit of rural life is superbly captured in both Michael Morpurgo’s writing and Michael Foreman’s illustrations. An irresistible title from acclaimed author-illustrator partnership. The title was first published in full colour by Pavilion.
Barbara Lazar - The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai
In the rich, dazzling, brutal world of twelfth century Japan, one young girl begins her epic journey, from the warmth of family to the Village of Outcasts. Marked out by an auspicious omen, she is trained in the ancient warrior arts of the samurai. But it is through the power of storytelling that she learns to fight her fate, twisting her life onto a path even she could not have imagined..
Tim O'Brien - The Things They Carried
They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.
Elif Shafak - The Forty Rules of Love
An American housewife is transformed by an intriguing manuscript about the Sufi mystic poet Rumi In this lyrical, exuberant follow-up to her 2007 novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives- one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz-that together incarnate the poet´s timeless message of love. Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent. Her first assignment is to read and report on Sweet Blasphemy, a novel written by a man named Aziz Zahara. Ella is mesmerized by his tale of Shams´s search for Rumi and the dervish´s role in transforming the successful but unhappy cleric into a committed mystic, passionate poet, and advocate of love. She is also taken with Shams´s lessons, or rules, that offer insight into an ancient philosophy based on the unity of all people and religions, and the presence of love in each and every one of us. As she reads on, she realizes that Rumi´s story mirrors her own and that Zahara-like Shams-has come to set her free.
Philippa Gregory - The Virgin's Lover
The story of Queen Elizabeth I and her court has been told countlessly in historical fiction. This third novel in a popular series following the machinations and passions of the Tudor court presents lively characters, political intrigue, and soaring emotions swirling around the early years of Elizabeth's reign. Lifelong friend Robert Dudley and Elizabeth share an ardent love affair, but the married Robert is already tainted with a traitor's brush. In addition, his wife, the devoted Amy, will never relinquish him. In tandem with her illicit liaison, Elizabeth conspires with William Cecil, her most trusted counselor, to secure the wealth of her court and country by building a secret cache of gold. The coin of the realm's new value will financially ruin Dudley. Readers already know how history unfolds but will quickly turn pages to the story's end. Elizabeth's manipulations, Dudley's allegiance, and Cecil's political plotting come together in an engaging story. The first two novels in the series were book-club favorites, and expect this one to follow suit--and expect further entries in this rousing series.
Philippa Gregory - Earthly Joys
Tremendous historical novel of the early 1600s, as seen through the eyes of John Tradescant, gardener to the great men of the age. A traveller in a time of discovery, the greatest gardening pioneer of his day, yet a man of humble birth: John Tradescant's story is a mirror to the extraordinary age in which he lives. As gardener and confidante to Sir Robert Cecil, Tradescant is well placed to observe the social and political changes that are about to sweep through the kingdom. While his master conjures intrigues at Court, Tradescant designs for him the magnificent garden at Hatfield, scouring the known world for ever more wonderful plants: new varieties of fruit and flower, the first horse chestnuts to be cultivated in England, even larches from Russia. Moving to the household of the flamboyant Duke of Buckingham, Tradescant witnesses at first hand the growing division between Parliament and the people; and the most loyal of servants must find a way to become an independent squire.
Philippa Gregory - The Red Queen
Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales. Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York's daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife's train at her coronation. Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time - all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize. In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.
Andrew Taylor - Bleeding Heart Square
'If Philippa Penhow hadn't gone to Bleeding Heart Square on that January day, you and perhaps everyone else might have lived happily ever after...' It's 1934, and the decaying London cul-de-sac of Bleeding Heart Square is an unlikely place of refuge for aristocratic Lydia Langstone. But as she flees her abusive marriage there is only one person she can turn to - the genteelly derelict Captain Ingleby-Lewis, currently lodging at no 7. However, unknown to Lydia, a dark mystery haunts 7 Bleeding Heart Square. What happened to Miss Penhow, the middle-aged spinster who owns the house and who vanished four years earlier? Why is a seedy plain-clothes policeman obsessively watching the square? What is making struggling journalist Rory Wentwood so desperate to contact Miss Penhow? And why are parcels of rotting hearts being sent to Joseph Serridge, the last person to see Miss Penhow alive...? Legend has it the Devil once danced in Bleeding Heart Square - but is there now a new and sinister presence lurking in its shadows?
Colm Tóibín - The Master
In _The Master_, Colm Tóibín captures the exquisite anguish of a man who circulated in the grand parlours and palazzos of Europe, who was astonishingly vibrant and alive in his art, and yet whose attempts at intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. It is a powerful account of the hazards of putting the life of the mind before affairs of the heart.
Leila Meacham - Roses
Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town's founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been--not just for themselves but for their children, and children's children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
In a dazzling act of ventriloquism, Peter Carey gives Ned Kelly a voice so wild, passionate and original that it is impossible not to believe that the famous bushranger himself is speaking from beyond the grave. True History of the Kelly Gang is the song of Australia, and it sings its protest in a voice at once crude and delicate, menacing and heart-wrenching. Carey gives us Ned Kelly as orphan, as Oedipus, as horse thief, farmer, bushranger, reformer, bank-robber, police-killer and, finally, as his country's beloved Robin Hood.
Amanda Grange - Mr Knightley's Diary
From the author of "Darcy's Diary" comes this sparkling retelling of Jane Austen's Emma - from Mr. Knightley's point of view. In between managing his estate and visiting his brother in London, Mr. Knightley is both exasperated and amused by his neighbour, Emma Woodhouse, whose misguided attempts to manage the affairs of the inhabitants of Highbury lead to disastrous results. The first object of her kindness, Mr. Elton, flees to Bath rather than fall in with her plans, whilst the second, Harriet Smith, is foolishly persuaded to refuse an offer of marriage. But when Frank Churchill arrives in Highbury, Mr. Knightley's amusement give sway to another emotion, for his unreasonable dislike of the handsome newcomer seems suspiciously like jealousy! --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Edward Rutherfurd - Ireland Awakening
Few authors are as ambitious as Edward Rutherford. And Dublin: Foundation, the first of a massive two-part epic, is possibly Rutherford's most challenging undertaking yet--and (on the evidence of this first book) could well be his most considerable achievement. Rutherford's sheer readability belies his obvious seriousness. His arm-straining volumes may cover every possible variety of human experience (couched in historical backgrounds of immense detail and authenticity), but he remains a storyteller of no mean skills. From the early books that made his name (notably the much-acclaimed Sarum), through to the more recent blockbuster London, the author has combined a panoramic, Homeric vision with a James-Joyce like concentration on the minutiae of everyday life; the results of this synthesis are brought to perfectly honed effect in Dublin: Foundation. Parallels with Joyce's Dublin are not appropriate here, though. The scope is far wider and stretches back into history. Beginning in Pre-Christian Ireland as the Kings of Tara reigned autocratically, we encounter the lovers Prince Conall and the beautiful Deidre. An army sized dramatis personae surround the lovers, representing every player in a turbulent era. We are shown many of the key events in Irish history, with parts for Saint Patrick, the Nordic savagery of the Vikings and the battles with the cunning Henry VIII. As this operatic volume ends with the approach of the Reformation, the orchestration of narrative commands total respect. --Barry Forshaw
Mary Ann Shaffer - Annie Barrows - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers.