Fidelity


Susan Glaspell - 1915
    Ruth had taken another woman's husband and as such 'Freeport' society thinks she is 'a human being who selfishly - basely - took her own happiness, leaving misery for others. She outraged society as completely as a woman could outrage it... One who defies it - deceives it - must be shut out from it.'But, like Emma Bovary, Edna Pontellier in 'The Awakening' and Nora in 'A Doll's House' Ruth has 'a diffused longing for an enlarged experience... Her energies having been shut off from the way they had wanted to go, she was all the more zestful for new things from life...' It is these that are explored in Fidelity.

Indian Summer


William Dean Howells - 1886
    Colville, just turned forty, has spent years as a successful midwestern newspaper publisher. Now he sells his business and heads for Italy, where as a young man he had dreamed of a career as an architect and fallen hopelessly in love. In Florence, Colville runs into Lina Bowen, sometime best friend of the woman who jilted him and the vivacious survivor of an unhappy marriage. He also meets her young visitor, twenty-year-old Imogene Graham—lovely, earnest to a fault, and brimming with the excitement of her first encounter with the great world.The drama that plays out among these three gifted and well-meaning people against the backdrop of Florence, the brilliance of their repartee, and the accumulating burden of their mutual misunderstandings make for a comedy of errors that is as winning as it is wise.

Great Expectations


Kathy Acker - 1982
    Using postmodern form, Kathy Acker's Great Expectations moves her narrator through time, gender, and identity as it examines our era's cherished beliefs about life and art.

Point of No Return


John P. Marquand - 1949
    While waiting for the fateful decision, Gray returns to the small Massachusetts town where he grew up, to try to find out how he has reached this point, and to decide which way to go.

All Passion Spent


Vita Sackville-West - 1931
    Seventy years later, released by widowhood, and to the dismay of her pompous children, she abandons the family home for a tiny house in Hampstead. Here she recollects the dreams of youth, and revels in her newfound freedom with her odd assortment of companions: Genoux, her French maid; Mr. Bucktrout, her house agent; and a coffin maker who pictures people dead in order to reveal their true characters. And then there's Mr. FitzGeorge, an eccentric millionaire who met and loved her in India when she was young and very lovely. It is here in this world of her own that she finds a passion that comes only with the freedom to choose, and it is this, her greatest gift, that she passes on to the only one who can understand its value. First published in 1931, Vita Sackville-West's masterpiece is the fictional companion to her great friend Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own.

The Wreckage of Agathon


John Gardner - 1970
    He sits imprisoned with his apprentice, Peeker, for his presumed involvement in a rebellion against the Spartan tyrant Lykourgos. Confined to a cell, the men produce extraordinary writings that illustrate the stories of their lives and give witness to Agathon's deterioration and the growth of Peeker from a bashful young apprentice to a self-assured and passionate seer. Captivating and imaginative, The Wreckage of Agathon is a tribute to author John Gardner's passion for ancient storytelling and those universal themes that span the course of all human civilization.

The Tunnel


William H. Gass - 1995
    The story of a middle aged professor who, upon completion of his massive historical study, Guilt and Innocence in Hitler's Germany, finds himself writing a novel about his own life instead of the introduction to his magnum opus. The Tunnel meditates on history, hatred, unhappiness, and, above all, language.

Anthony Adverse


Hervey Allen - 1933
    Conceived in France, born in an Alpine village, reared in a great house of Italy, Anthony never knew his parents, never had a name of his own. But he was born of passion and it filled his blood.Volume 1. The Roots of the Tree Volume 2. The Other Bronze BoyVolume 3. The Lonely Twin

So Big


Edna Ferber - 1924
    Left an orphan at 19 years old in the late 1880s, Selina Peake needs to support herself. She leaves the city life she has known to become a teacher in the farming community of High Prairie, IL. Her father had told her that life is an adventure, and one should make the most of it.Selina sees beauty everywhere, including in the fields of cabbages. She has a natural curiosity about farming and oversteps the woman's traditional role by having the audacity to ask the men questions. She soon marries Pervus DeJong, a farmer. Selina eagerly offers suggestions for operational improvements, but Pervus ignores her, preferring to use the unprofitable farming methods employed by his father.Though she suffers many hardships, Selina always remembers the importance of beauty, and she admires those who exercise their creative talents. She tries to instill these views in her son Dirk and fights with her husband over the need for their child to get a full education. Once Dirk finishes college and starts work, will he retain Selina's values?So Big was the first book to have the rare distinction of being the best-selling book of the year and win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The Wanderer


Knut Hamsun - 1905
    His quest is continually frustrated, not least by his susceptibility to the wives and daughters of successive employers.In Under the Autumn Star he joins forces first with Grindhusen, a man blessed with the faith that "something will turn up"; later with Lars Falkenberg, whose dubious talents include the tuning of pianos. Knut and Lars end up as workmen on the estate of a certain Captain Falkenberg (no relation), with whose wife each falls in love. In due course, Knut is laid off and, in futile pursuit of the woman with whom by now he is helplessly infatuated, eventually finds himself sucked back into the city he once fled."A wanderer plays on muted strings," explains Knut, now six years older, "when he reaches the age of two score years and ten." Among this sequel's qualities is the poignancy with which it conveys that sense of aging.Both novels show Hamsun at the height of his powers: lyrical and passionate, ironic yet deeply humane, master of one of the most original prose styles in modern literature, brilliantly translated here by Oliver and Gunnvor Stallybrass.

The Ambassadors


Henry James - 1903
    Forster marvelled at it, but F.R. Leavis considered it to be 'not only not one of his great books, but to be a bad one.' As for the author, he held The Ambassadors as the favorite among all his novels.Sent from Massachusetts by the formidable Mrs. Newsome to recall her son, Chad, from what she assumes to be a corrupt life in Paris, Strether finds his intentions subtly and profoundly transformed as he falls under the spell of the city and of his charge. He is quick to perceive that Chad has been not so much corrupted as refined, and over the course of the hot summer months in Paris he gradually realizes that this discovery and acceptance of Chad's unconventional new lifestyle alter his own ideals and ambitions.One of Henry James's three final novels, all of which have sharply divided modern critics, The Ambassadors is the finely drawn portrait of a man's late awakening to the importance of morality that is founded not on the dictates of convention but on its value per se.

Gardens in the Dunes


Leslie Marmon Silko - 1999
    Placed in a government school to learn the ways of a white child, Indigo is rescued by the kind-hearted Hattie and her worldly husband, Edward, who undertake to transform this complex, spirited girl into a “proper” young lady. Bit by bit, and through a wondrous journey that spans the European continent, traipses through the jungles of Brazil, and returns to the rich desert of Southwest America, Indigo bridges the gap between the two forces in her life and teaches her adoptive parents as much as, if not more than, she learns from them.

The Sleepwalkers


Hermann Broch - 1932
    Even as he grounded his narratives in the intimate daily life of Germany, Broch was identifying the oceanic changes that would shortly sweep that life into the abyss.Whether he is writing about a neurotic army officer The Romantic, a disgruntled bookkeeper and would-be assassin The Anarchist, or an opportunistic war-deserter The Realist, Broch immerses himself in the twists of his characters psyches, and at the same time soars above them, to produce a prophetic portrait of a world tormented by its loss of faith, morals, and reason.

Little Dorrit: Volume 1


Charles Dickens - 1856
    Considered one of the English language's greatest writers, he was acclaimed for his rich storytelling and memorable characters, and achieved massive worldwide popularity in his lifetime. The popularity of his novels and short stories has meant that not one has ever gone out of print. Dickens wrote serialised novels, the usual format for fiction at the time, and each new part of his stories was eagerly anticipated by the reading public. Among his best-known works are Sketches by Boz (1836), The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist (1838), Nicholas Nickleby (1839), Barnaby Rudge (1841), A Christmas Carol (1843), Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), David Copperfield (1850), Bleak House (1853), (1857), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1861) and Our Mutual Friend (1865).

Burning Daylight


Jack London - 1902
    The main character, Elam Harnish, nicknamed "Burning Daylight" was the most successful entrepreneur of the Alaskan Gold Rush. The story of the main character was partially based upon the life of Oakland entrepreneur "Borax" Smith. Bringing his fortunes to the States he is cheated out of it by a crowd of money kings, and recovers it only at the muzzle of his gun. Embarking on a new life in California, he makes another fortune by underhanded means . . . only to find his corrupt life suddenly turned around by the love of a woman.