The Green Hat


Michael Arlen - 1924
    Iris Storm, femme fatale, races around London and Europe in her yellow Hispano-Suiza surrounded by romantic intrigue, but beneath the glamour she is destined to be a tragic heroine. A perfect synecdoche, in fact: as the hat is to the woman, so the words of the title are to an entire literary style. The success of the novel when it was first published in 1924 led to its adaptation for the screen, with Greta Garbo starring as Iris Storm.

Chance


Joseph Conrad - 1913
    from taking the shortest cut towards securing for herself the easiest possible existence.’ It is narrated by different narrators, including Conrad's regular narrator, Charles Marlow, who describe and attempt to interpret various episodes in Flora’s life and is the only book to focus on a female character.Excerpt:I cannot say that any particular moral complexion has been put on this novel but I do not think that any body had detected in it an evil intention. And it is only for their intentions that men can be held respon sible. The ultimate effects of whatever they do are far beyond their control. In doing this book my in tention was to interest people in my Vision of things which is indissolubly allied to the style in which it is expressed. In other words I wanted to write a cer tain amount of pages in prose, which, strictly speaking, is my proper business. I have attended to it conscien tiously with the hope of being entertaining or at least not insufferably boring to my readers. I can not suf ficiently insist upon the truth that when I sit down to write my intentions are always blameless however de plorable the ultimate effect of the act may turn out to be.

The Parasites


Daphne du Maurier - 1949
    Daphne du Maurier has instinct, with the result that every woman instinctively wants to read her." -New York Times Book ReviewMaria, Niall and Celia have grown up in the shadow of their famous parents - their father, a flamboyant singer and their mother, a talented dancer. Now pursuing their own creative dreams, all three siblings feel an undeniable bond, but it is Maria and Niall who share the secret of their parents' past affairs. Alternately comic and poignant, The Parasites is based on the artistic milieu its author knew best, and draws the reader effortlessly into that magical world.

A House and Its Head


Ivy Compton-Burnett - 1935
    The long, endlessly surprising conversational duels at the center of Compton-Burnett's works are confrontations between the unspoken and the unspeakable, and in them the dynamics of power and desire are dramatized as nowhere else. New York Review Books is reissuing two of the finest novels of this singular modern genius—works that look forward to the blacky comic inventions of Muriel Spark as much as they do back to the drawing rooms of Jane Austen.A House and Its Head is Ivy Compton-Burnett's subversive look at the politics of family life, and perhaps the most unsparing of her novels. No sooner has Duncan Edgeworth's wife died than he takes a new, much younger bride whose willful ways provoke a series of transgressions that begins with adultery and ends, much to everyone's relief, in murder.

Of Human Bondage


W. Somerset Maugham - 1915
    His cravings take him to Paris at age eighteen to try his hand at art, then back to London to study medicine. But even so, nothing can sate his nagging hunger for experience. Then he falls obsessively in love, embarking on a disastrous relationship that will change his life forever.…Marked by countless similarities to Maugham’s own life, his masterpiece is “not an autobiography,” as the author himself once contended, “but an autobiographical novel; fact and fiction are inexorably mingled; the emotions are my own.”

Darkness Visible


William Golding - 1979
    Miraculously saved yet hideously scarred, tormented at school and at work, Matty becomes a wanderer, a seeker after some unknown redemption. Two more lost children await him: twins as exquisite as they are loveless. Toni dabbles in political violence, Sophy in sexual tyranny. As Golding weaves their destinies together, as he draws them toward a final conflagration, his book lights up both the inner and outer darknesses of our time.

The Forsyte Saga Volume Three: End of the Chapter


John Galsworthy - 1931
    For centuries, the Cherrell sons have left their home of Condaford Grange to serve the state as soldiers, clergymen and administrators, but the 1930s bring uncertainty in a world of rapidly altering morals and unemployment. Galsworthy’s portrayal of the effect of political change on individuals show him as a great social novelist as well as the author of one of the most gripping family sagas ever written.

The Lost Girl


D.H. Lawrence - 1920
    After plans to elope with her lover to Australia and train as a nurse in London lead to nothing, she joins a traveling theater group and succumbs to the charms of the dark, passionate Italian Ciccio.This edition also contains pictures, personal notes, and other critical primary source material.

Quartet


Jean Rhys - 1928
    Alone, stranded in Paris after her Polish husband is jailed, Marya is befriended by an English couple who take her home with them. Slowly they overwhelm her with their passions as Marya drifts into an affair with the husband, an affair the wife seems strangely eager to promote. The husband demands, the wife fosters, and Marya is left - as always - to comfort herself.

A Clergyman's Daughter


George Orwell - 1935
    Her thoughts are taken up with the costumes she is making for the church school play, by the hopelessness of preaching to the poor and by debts she cannot pay in 1930s Depression England. Suddenly her routine shatters and Dorothy finds herself down and out in London. She is wearing silk stockings, has money in her pocket and cannot remember her name. Orwell leads us through a landscape of unemployment, poverty and hunger, where Dorothy's faith is challenged by a social reality that changes her life.

The Child in Time


Ian McEwan - 1987
    In one horrifying moment that replays itself over the years that follow, Stephen realizes his daughter is gone. With extraordinary tenderness and insight, Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan takes us into the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Kate's absence sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on diverging paths as they each struggle with a grief that only seems to intensify with the passage of time. Eloquent and passionate, the novel concludes in a triumphant scene of love and hope that gives full rein to the author's remarkable gifts. The winner of the Whitbread Prize, The Child in Time is an astonishing novel by one of the finest writers of his generation.

Hope of Heaven


John O'Hara - 1938
    A world weary screen-writer of only limited success in his mid-thirties is in love with an idealistic young woman in her twenties who is only passingly interested in him. When her long estranged father comes to LA on business, tragedy ensues. Unrelentingly negative - a gem.

Billy and Girl


Deborah Levy - 1996
    Apparently abandoned years ago by their parents, they now live alone somewhere in England. Girl spends much of her time trying to find their mother, going to strangers' doors and addressing whatever Prozac woman who answers as "Mom." Billy spends his time fantasizing a future in which he will be famous, perhaps in the United States as a movie star, or as a psychiatrist, or as a doctor to blondes with breast enlargements, or as the author of "Billy England's Book of Pain." Together they both support and torture each other, barely able to remember their pasts but intent on forging a future that will bring them happiness and reunite them with the ever-elusive Mom. Billy and Girl are every boy and girl reeling from the pain of their childhoods, forgetting what they need to forget, inventing worlds they think will be better, but usually just prolonging nightmares as they begin to create--or so it seems--alternative personalities that will allow them to survive and conquer and punish. In the end, the reader is as bewildered as Billy and Girl--have they found Mom and a semblance of family, or are, they completely out of control and ready to explode?

This Side of Innocence


Taylor Caldwell - 1946
    Beautiful Amalie Maxwell, low-born, but driven by limitless desires, came to Riversend and instantly touched off a holocaust of passion, hatred and intrigue that blazed through three generations of the lordly Lindseys...

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris


Paul Gallico - 1958
    One day, when tidying Lady Dant's wardrobe, she comes across the most beautiful thing she has ever seen in her life - a Dior dress. In all the years of her drab and humble existence, she's never seen anything as magical as the dress before her and she's never wanted anything as much before. Determined to make her dream come true, Mrs Harris scrimps, saves and slaves away until one day, after three long, uncomplaining years, she finally has enough money to go to Paris. When she arrives at the House of Dior, Mrs Harris has little idea of how her life is about to be turned upside down and how many other lives she will transform forever. Always kind, always cheery and always winsome, the indomitable Mrs Harris takes Paris by storm and learns one of life's greatest lessons along the way. This treasure from the 1950s introduces the irrepressible Mrs Harris, part charlady, part fairy-godmother, whose adventures take her from her humble London roots to the heights of glamour.