Hester


Mrs. Oliphant - 1883
    She thinks she sees through everyone and rules over a family of dependents with knowing cynicism. But there are two people in Redborough who resist her. One is Hester, a young relation with a personality as strong as Catherine's, and as determined to find a role for herself. The other is Edward, who Catherine treats like a son. Conflict between the young and the old is inevitable, and in its depiction of the complex relationships that develop between the three principal characters, Hester is a masterpiece of psychological realism. In exploring the difficulty of understanding human nature, it is also a compulsive story of financial and sexual risk-taking that inevitably results in a searing climax.Margaret Oliphant is one of the great Victorian novelists, and this edition re-establishes her importance.

Two on a Tower


Thomas Hardy - 1882
    'Two on a Tower' is Hardy's ninth novel and contains perhaps his most complete treatment of the theme of love across the class and age divide, and also the fullest expression of his fascination with astronomy and science. This story of passion and sacrifice begins when Lady Viviette Constantine discovers the handsome young astronomer Swithin St Cleeve on the lonely tower on her estate.Starring Maggie O'Neill as Lady Constantine, Blake Ritson as Swithin St Cleeve, Conrad Nelson as Parson Torkingham and with Amy Humphreys, Stephen Tomlin, Pauline Jefferson, Richard Heap and Carter Dowland. Directed by Stefan Escreet.

The Moorland Cottage


Elizabeth Gaskell - 1850
    Through the example and guidance of her mother—who dotes on Edward constantly—and her mentor, Mrs. Buxton, Maggie learns that self-sacrifice is the key to living a fulfilled life. The precursor to and arguably the template for George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, this feminist masterpiece begs the question How much personal happiness can one forgo in the name of duty and devotion to another? Maggie’s love story, Edward’s perfidy, and the dramatic conclusion at sea all blend together seamlessly to make this story a timeless tale.

The Egoist


George Meredith - 1879
    He imagines us capable of disinterested curiosity in the behaviour of our kind.' In this, the most dazzlingly intellectual of all his novels, Meredith tries to illuminate the pretensions of the most powerful class within the very citadel of security which its members have built. He develops to their logical extremity his ideas on egoism, on sentimentality and on the power of comedy. Meredith saw egoism as the great enemy of truth, feeling and progress, and comedy as the great dissolver of artifice. The Egoist is the extreme expression of his recurrent theme: the defeat of egoism by the power of comedy.

Aurora Floyd


Mary Elizabeth Braddon - 1863
    But in Aurora Floyd, and in many of the novels written in imitation of it, bigamy is little more than a euphemism, a device to enable the heroine, and vicariously the reader, to enjoy the forbidden sweets of adultery without adulterous intentions.

Sense and Sensibility


JaneAusten - 1994
    Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love - and its threatened loss - the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love. ISBN: 978-0-14-062327-7

Martin Chuzzlewit


Charles Dickens - 1844
    Set partly in America, which Dickens had visited in 1842, the novel includes a searing satire on the United States. Martin Chuzzlewit is the story of two Chuzzlewits, Martin and Jonas, who have inherited the characteristic Chuzzlewit selfishness. It contrasts their diverse fates of moral redemption and worldly success for one, with increasingly desperate crime for the other. This powerful black comedy involves hypocrisy, greed and blackmail, as well as the most famous of Dickens's grotesques, Mrs Gamp.

The Light That Failed


Rudyard Kipling - 1890
    The school proved rough going for him at first, but led to firm friendships & provided the setting for his schoolboy stories Stalky & Co., published years later. During his time there, he met & fell in love with Florence Garrard, the model for Maisie in his 1st novel, The Light That Failed, initially published in 1890 in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. Dick Heldar is a war correspondent & an artist, known for the drawings he sends home to the London papers from wars in exotic places like Sudan. When he returns to London, he attempts to make a career for himself as a serious artist & encounters his childhood sweetheart, Maisie. They fall in love. Then he learns that a minor problem with his eyes is actually the onset of blindness, incurable--the result of a head wound he took during the war. As his vision fails, the light of everything around him--his life, his hopes, his dreams--fail with it. There are terrible choices to be made between the love of the woman he treasures & the love of the men who stood by him at the front.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey


Anne Brontë - 1848
    The love story of Agnes Grey, gentle, though it has a significant shadow behind it

Born in Exile


George Gissing - 1891
    Self-assertion is the practical complement of self-esteem. To be largely endowed with the latter quality, yet constrained by a coward delicacy to repress it, is to suffer martyrdom at the pleasure of every robust assailant, and in the end be driven to the refuge of a moody solitude.

Mrs Craddock


W. Somerset Maugham - 1902
    But she discovers that little in her marriage to the dutiful and sensible Edward meets her expectations. And as passion dies, she finds herself trapped in a loveless, oppressive marriage.

The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.


William Makepeace Thackeray - 1852
    As a young man he falls in love with both Lady Castlewood and Beatrix, her beautiful, headstrong daughter, and is inspired to join the ultimately unsuccessful campaign to reinstate James Stuart to the throne. Thackeray valued Henry Esmond more than any of his other novels and it displays many of his own memories and emotions.

The Semi-Attached Couple and the Semi-Detached House


Emily Eden - 1860
    These matching masterpieces satirize the social world Eden knew, loved, and laughed at. Like Jane Austen she is concerned with love and marriage, money and manners. But her voice is distinct. Eden's charm and humor - both above- and belowstairs - and her sharp social commentary make her work enduringly captivating.

East Lynne


Mrs. Henry Wood - 1861
    Ellen Wood played upon the anxieties of the Victorian middle classes who feared a breakdown of the social order as divorce became more readily available and promiscuity threatened the sanctity of the family. In her novel the simple act of hiring a governess raises the spectres of murder, disguise, and adultery. Her sensation novel was devoured by readers from the Prince of Wales to Joseph Conrad and continued to fascinate This edition returns for the first time to the racy, slang-ridden narrative of the first edition, rather than the subsequent stylistically 'improved' versions hitherto reproduced by modern editors.

Shirley


Charlotte Brontë - 1849
    One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century. The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention.A work that combines social commentary with the more private preoccupations of Jane Eyre, Shirley demonstrates the full range of Brontë's literary talent. "Shirley is a revolutionary novel," wrote Brontë biographer Lyndall Gordon. "Shirley follows Jane Eyre as a new exemplar but so much a forerunner of the feminist of the later twentieth century that it is hard to believe in her actual existence in 1811-12. She is a theoretic possibility: what a woman might be if she combined independence and means of her own with intellect. Charlotte Brontë imagined a new form of power, equal to that of men, in a confident young woman [whose] extraordinary freedom has accustomed her to think for herself....Shirley [is] Brontë's most feminist novel."