Join thousands of book lovers
You can, at any time, unsubscribe from our newsletters.
The bestselling book that inspired the cult classic film, Girl, Interrupted, starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie."e;Not since Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar has a personal account of life in a mental hospital achieved as much popularity and acclaim"e; TIME "e;Intelligent and painful"e; Guardian"e;Poignant, astonishing memoir"e; New York TimesIn 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital to be treated for depression. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital renowned for its famous clientele - Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor and Ray Charles.A clear-sighted, unflinching work that provokes questions about our definitions of sane and insane, Kaysen's extraordinary memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .Working as a lady's companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . . Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.I am reminded of how profoundly du Maurier changed the way I felt about myself, how she engaged and excited me with her writing.
*The ground-breaking cult classic and bestselling bestseller of all time!
ANNE LISTER IS THE INSPIRATION FOR GENTLEMAN JACK, A NEW BBC/HBO SERIES BY SALLY WAINWRIGHT, STARRING SURANNE JONES.'Engaging, revealing, at times simply astonishing: Anne Lister's diaries are an indispensable read for anyone interested in the history of gender, sexuality, and the intimate lives of women' SARAH WATERS'The Lister diaries are the Dead Sea Scrolls of lesbian history; they changed everything. By resurrecting them and editing them with such loving attention and intelligence, Helena Whitbread has earned the gratitude of a whole generation' EMMA DONOGHUEWhen this volume of Anne Lister's diaries was first published in 1988, it was hailed as a vital piece of lost lesbian history. The editor, Helena Whitbread, had spent years painstakingly researching and transcribing Lister's extensive journals, much of which were written in an elaborate code - what Lister called her 'crypthand', which allowed her to record her life in intimate, and at times, explicit, detail. Until then, Anne Lister's lesbianism had been supressed or hinted at; this was the first time her story had been told. Anne Lister defied the role of nineteenth-century womanhood: she was bold, fiercely independent, a landowner, industrialist, traveller and lesbian - a woman who lived her life on her own terms.'[Anne Lister's] sense of self, and self-awareness, is what makes her modern to us. She was a woman exercising conscious choice. She controlled her cash and her body. At a time when women had to marry, or be looked after by a male relative, and when all their property on marriage passed to their husband, Anne Lister not only dodged the traps of being female, she set up a liaison with another woman that enhanced her own wealth and left both of them free to live as they wished . . . The diaries gave me courage' JEANETTE WINTERSONThese diaries include the years 1816-1824. The second volume, NO PRIEST BUT LOVE, is available in ebook.
Zora Neale Hurston's masterpiece is perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.
Mildred Lathbury is one of those 'excellent women' who is often taken for granted. She is a godsend, 'capable of dealing with most of the stock situations of life - birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sales, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather'. As such, she often gets herself embroiled in other people's lives - especially those of her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks. One cannot take sides in these matters, though it is tricky, especially as Mildred, teetering on the edge of spinsterhood, has a soft spot for dashing young Rockingham Napier. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest and most touching.
Who can resist a book with chapters such as 'A Lady and Her Liquor', 'Pleasures of a Single Bed' and 'Solitary Refinement'? In this priceless gem from a more genteel age, Marjorie Hillis provides no-nonsense advice for the single-but-hoping-not-to-be woman. 'This book is no brief for living alone. Five out of ten of the people who do so can't help themselves, and at least three of the others are irritatingly selfish. But the chances are that at some time in your life, possibly only now and then between husbands, you will find yourself settling down to a solitary existence . . . The point is that there is a technique about living alone successfully, as there is about doing anything really well. Whether you view your one-woman menage as Doom or Adventure, you need a plan, if you are going to make the best of it'And, lest you worry about how to put all the advice into practice, every chapter includes a case study providing examples of women who heeded -- and women who disregarded -- these golden rules.
* A startling account of a German survivor of the Second World War. 'One of the most important personal accounts ever written about the effects of war and defeat' Antony Beevor 'One of the most extraordinary and moving books I have ever read' Antonia Fraser
'I have bought more copies of this book to give to people, in a frenzy of enthusiasm, than any other . . . Heartburn is the perfect, bittersweet, sobbingly funny, all-too-true confessional novel' Nigella Lawson Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel discovers that her husband is in love with another woman. The fact that this woman has a 'neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb' is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel is a cookery writer, and between trying to win Mark back and wishing him dead, she offers us some of her favourite recipes. Heartburn is a roller coaster of love, betrayal, loss and - most satisfyingly - revenge.This is Nora Ephron's (screenwriter of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle) roman a clef: 'I always thought during the pain of the marriage that one day it would make a funny book,' she once said - And it is!Books included in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor; and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
WEST WITH THE NIGHT appeared on 13 bestseller lists on first publication in 1942. It tells the spellbinding story of Beryl Markham -- aviator, racehorse trainer, fascinating beauty -and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and 30s.Markham was taken to Kenya at the age of four. As an adult she was befriended by Denys Finch-Hatton, the big-game hunter of OUT OF AFRICA fame, who took her flying in his airplane. Thrilled by the experience, Markham went on to become the first woman in Kenya to receive a commercial pilot's license.In 1936 she determined to fly solo across the Atlantic -- without stopping. When Charles Lindbergh did the same, he had the wind behind him. Markham, by contrast, had a strong headwind against her and a plane that only flew up to 163 mph. On 4 September, she took off ... Several days later, she crash-landed in Nova Scotia and became an instant celebrity.
'Edith's fall takes the form of a psychological chiller, but there is also something larger, the poignancy of her struggle not to go under. She is betrayed by such ordinary dreams' New York TimesEdith Howland's diary is her most precious possession, and as she is moving house she is making sure it's safe. A suburban housewife in fifties America, she is moving to Brunswick with her husband Brett and her beloved son, Cliffie, to start a new life for them all. She is optimistic, but most of all she has high hopes for her new venture with Brett, a local newspaper, the Brunswick Corner Bugle.Life seems full of promise, and indeed, to read her diary, filled with her most intimate feelings and revelations, you would never think otherwise. Strange, then, that reality is so dangerously different . . .
* This extraordinary novel, considered by many to be one of the finest examples of Simone de Beauvoir's imaginative writing, tells the story of a man doomed to immortality.
This brilliant retelling of the story of Theseus, the king of Athens, brings Greek mythology vividly to life and remains 'one of the truly fine historical novels of modern times' (The New York Times)Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery - can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father's sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus's perilous journey to his father's palace to claim his birthright, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story.'Mary Renault's portraits of the ancient world are fierce, complex and eloquent, infused at every turn with her life-long passion for the Classics. Her characters live vividly both in their own time, and in ours' (Madeline Miller, bestselling author of Circe)'Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers' (Hilary Mantel, bestselling author of Wolf Hall)
'The Alexander Trilogy contains some of Renault's finest writing. Lyrical, wise, compelling: the novels are a wonderful imaginative feat' SARAH WATERSIn the final novel of her stunning trilogy, Mary Renault vividly imagines the life of Alexander the Great, the charismatic leader whose drive and ambition created a legend.Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three, leaving behind an empire that stretched from Greece and Egypt to India. After Alexander's death in 323 B.C. his only direct heirs were two unborn sons and a simpleton half-brother. Every long-simmering faction exploded into the vacuum of power. Wives, distant relatives and generals all vied for the loyalty of the increasingly undisciplined Macedonian army. Most failed and were killed in the attempt. For no one possessed the leadership to keep the great empire from crumbling. But Alexander's legend endured to spread into worlds he had seen only in dreams.'Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers. She does not pretend the past is like the present, or that the people of ancient Greece were just like us. She shows us their strangeness; discerning, sure-footed, challenging our values, piquing our curiosity, she leads us through an alien landscape that moves and delights us' - HILARY MANTEL'The Alexander Trilogy stands as one of the most important works of fiction in the 20th century . . . it represents the pinnacle of [Renault's] career . . . Renault's skill is in immersing us in their world, drawing us into its strangeness, its violence and beauty. It's a literary conjuring trick like all historical fiction - it can only ever be an approximation of the truth. But in Renault's hands, the trick is so convincing and passionately conjured' Antonia Senior, The Times
A tale of love and adventure on the high seas from the internationally bestselling author of RebeccaThe Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will alter the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for freedom, honest love - and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. To escape the shallowness of court life, Dona retreats to Navron, her husband's remote Cornish estate. There, she seeks peace in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. But she finds instead a daring pirate, hunted by all Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment's joy. Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger and glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.
Jamaica Inn is a first-rate page-turner. - The Times ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan crosses the windswept Cornish moors to Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. There she finds Patience a changed woman, downtrodden by her domineering, vicious husband Joss Merlyn. The inn is a front for a lawless gang of criminals, and Mary is unwillingly dragged into their dangerous world of smuggling and murder. Before long she will be forced to cross her own moral line to save herself...
INTRODUCED BY SARAH WATERS'Every one of her books is a treat and this is my favourite, because of its wonderful cast of characters, and because of the deftness with which Taylor's narrative moves between them ... A wonderful writer' SARAH WATERSIn the faded coastal village of Newby, everyone looks out for - and in on - each other, and beneath the deceptively sleepy exterior, passions run high. Beautiful divorcee Tory is secretly involved with her neighbour, Robert, while his wife Beth, Tory's best friend, is consumed by the worlds she creates in her novels, oblivious to the relationship developing next door. Their daughter Prudence is aware, however, and is appalled by the treachery she observes. Mrs Bracey, an invalid whose grasp on life is slipping, forever peers from her window, constantly prodding her daughters for news of the outside world. And Lily Wilson, a lonely young widow, is frightened of her own home. Into their lives steps Bertram, a retired naval officer with the unfortunate capacity to inflict lasting damage while trying to do good.'Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one's own experience' - ELIZABETH BOWEN'Always intelligent, often subversive and never dull, Elizabeth Taylor is the thinking person's dangerous housewife. Her sophisticated prose combines elegance, icy wit and freshness in a stimulating cocktail' - VALERIE MARTIN'A magnificent and underrated mid-20th-century writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike' - DAVID BADDIEL
'Frost in May is the unsurpassed novel of convent school life. This story of a clash between a determined young girl and an authoritarian regime is both perceptive and painfully emotional, convincing in every detail' - Hermione Lee, ObserverWith a new introduction by Tessa HadleyNanda Gray, the daughter of a Catholic convert, is nine when she is sent to the Convent of Five Wounds. Quick-witted, resilient and eager to please, she accepts this closed world where, with all the enthusiasm of the outsider, her desires and passions become only those the school permits. Her only deviation from total obedience is the passionate friendships she makes.Convent life is perfectly captured - the smell of beeswax and incense; the petty cruelties of the nuns; the eccentricities of Nanda's school friends.Books in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
Formidable Miss Doggett fills her life by giving tea parties to young academics and acting as watchdog of the morals of North Oxford. Anthea, her great-niece, is in love with a dashing upper-class undergraduate with political ambitions. Of this, Miss Doggett thoroughly approves. Anthea's father, however, an Oxford don, is tired of his marriage and carrying on in the most unseemly fashion with his student Barbara Bird - they have been spotted together at the British Museum! Miss Doggett isn't aware, though, that under her very own roof the lodging curate has proposed to her paid companion Miss Morrow. She wouldn't approve of that at all.
I know nothing. I am a tabula rasa, a blank sheet of paper, an unhatched egg. I have not yet become a woman, although I possess a woman's shape. Not a woman, no: both more and less than a real woman. Now I am a being as mythic and monstrous as Mother herself . . . 'New York has become the City of Dreadful Night where dissolute Leilah performs a dance of chaos for Evelyn. But this young Englishman's fate lies in the arid desert, where a many-breasted fertility goddess will wield her scalpel to transform him into the new Eve.
Jane and her mother live in a gloomy old mansion, where their lives are ruled by her ovebearing grandmother. For most of her life Jane has believed that her father is dead. Then, one dull April morning, a letter comes. Not only is her father alive and well, but he wants Jane to spend the summer with him on Prince Edward Island. For a blissful summer she lives at her father's cottage on Lantern Hill, making friends, having adventures and discovering that life can be wonderful after all. And she dares to dream that there could be such a house where she, Mother and Father could live together without Grandmother's disapproval - a house that could be called home.
Mamma was fast asleep at home, her spirit lapped in unconsciousness. Her dreams would not divine that her daughter had stolen out to meet a lover.And next door also they slept unawares, while one of them broke from the circle and came alone to clasp a stranger . . .'Judith Earle, over-earnest and inexperienced, has always been a little in love with each of the four cousins who come to stay next door and, on her return from Cambridge, becomes madly in love with one of them - Roddy, the 'sensation-hunter'. DUSTY ANSWER traces with delicate nostalgia childhood friendships and the pangs of thwarted young love.
A film tie-in edition of Vera Brittain's classic autobiography, published to coincide with the major motion picture adaptation starring Dominic West, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan and Kit Harington.
* A side-splitting story of growing up different in the Old South.
INTRODUCED BY LISSA EVANS'I envy anyone yet to discover the joy of Monica Dickens. She's beady eyed, big hearted and blissfully funny' Nina StibbePoppy, newly recruited cub reporter at the Downingham Post, is determined to prove to the editor that he's wrong in his belief that 'Women are a nuisance in the office'. He certainly doesn't think she's a nuisance when it's time for the tea round - a job which never fails to fall to the only female reporter.What Poppy lacks in experience, she makes up for in spirit and ambition. She'll make the Downingham Post the best regional newspaper there is - even if she occasionally gets the names wrong in court hearings. Life, for a single professional woman in the post-war years, certainly has its challenges - from finding a room, when the tyrannical landlady doesn't consider Poppy to be quite respectable, to changing her editor's deeply entrenched ways. This semi-autobiographical novel, recounted with Monica Dickens's wit, warmth and wry observation, will charm all who read it.If you enjoyed My Turn to Make the Tea, you will love One Pair of Feet, Dickens's novel of being a wartime trainee nurse, also published in Virago Modern Classics.
INTRODUCED BY STUART EVERS: 'A genuine, fully fledged masterpiece of the twentieth century; one that remains just as terrifyingly relevant and truthful in the twenty-first'An existential, political, literary thriller first published in 1944, Transit explores the plight of the refugee with extraordinary compassion and insight. Having escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Germany and a work camp in Rouen, the nameless narrator finds himself in the dusty seaport of Marseille. Along the way he was asked to deliver a letter to Weidel, a writer in Paris whom he discovered had killed himself as the Nazis entered the city. Now he is in search of the dead man's wife. He carries Weidel's suitcase, which contains an unfinished novel - and a letter securing Weidel a visa to escape France.Assuming the name Seidler - though the authorities think he is in fact Weidel - he goes from cafe to cafe looking for Marie, who is in turn anxiously searching for her husband. As Seidler converses with refugees over pizza and wine, their stories gradually break down his ennui, bringing him a deeper awareness of the transitory world they inhabit as they wait and wait for that most precious of possessions: transit papers.'This novel, completed in 1942, is in my opinion the most beautiful Seghers has written . . . almost flawless' - Heinrich Boll
'There is so much to love and admire in these stories - their understanding of heartbreak, their attention to affection and love across many divides' KAMILA SHAMSIE'Listen to me, child. You will be a woman soon and must behave well and with modesty. The Kazi will ask you three times whether you will marry Kalloo Mian. Now don't you be shameless, like these modern girls, and shout gleefully "e;Yes"e;. Be modest and cry softly and say "e;Hoon"e;.'A marriage is arranged between a little servant girl and a middle-aged cook with an opium habit; an idealistic political worker faces disillusionment; a man returns from years studying in England to a wife he scarcely knows; a conventional bride has her first encounter with her husband's 'emancipated' friends.Telling of the lives of servants and children, of conflict between the old traditions and new ways, and exploring the human repercussions of the Muslim/Hindu divide, these twelve stories present a moving and vivid picture of life in India in the mid-twentieth century. To each episode Attia Hosain brings a superb imaginative understanding and a sense of the poignancy of the smallest of human dramas. Attia Hosain published only two books, but her writing has influenced generations of writers. Discover Sunlight on a Broken Column, Hosain's acclaimed only novel - a coming-of-age story set against the turbulent background of Partition, also published in Virago Modern Classics.