06 December 2017

Your classic read for January

The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff

Retired teacher Edgar Hopkins lives for the thrill of winning poultry prizes. But his narrow world is shattered when he learns that the moon is about to come crashing into the earth, with apocalyptic consequences. The manuscript he leaves behind will be a testament - to his growing humanity and to how one English village tried to survive the end of the world...

 

Your classic read for February

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The first part of John le Carré's acclaimed Karla Trilogy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sees the beginning of the stealthy Cold War cat-and-mouse game between the taciturn, dogged George Smiley and his wily Soviet counterpart.

A mole, implanted by Moscow Centre, has infiltrated the highest ranks of the British Intelligence Service, almost destroying it in the process. And so former spymaster George Smiley has been brought out of retirement in order to hunt down the traitor at the very heart of the Circus - even though it may be one of those closest to him.

Your classic read for March

The Awakening by Kate Copin 

'The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude'
When 'The Awakening' was first published in 1899, charges of sordidness and immorality seemed to consign it into obscurity and irreparably damage its author's reputation. But a century after her death, it is widely regarded as Kate Chopin's great achievement. Through careful, subtle changes of style, Chopin shows the transformation of Edna Pontellier, a young wife and mother, who - with tragic consequences - refuses to be caged by married and domestic life, and claims for herself moral and erotic freedom.

 

Your classic read for April

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima

It is Spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment.  As the months come and go, and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become. At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire and transformation. It was originally published in twelve parts in the Japanese literary monthly Gunzo, between 1978 and 1979, each chapter marking the months in real time.

 

 

Your classic read for May

Berlin Finale by Heinz Rein

April 1945, the last days of the Nazi regime. While bombs are falling on Berlin, the Gestapo are still searching for traitors, resistance fighters and deserters. People mistrust each other more than ever. Everyone could be a spy. Unsettling, raw and cinematic, Berlin Finale was published in Germany in 1947 and quickly became one of the first best-selling books of the post-war period. Newly translated eighty years later, it is ripe for rediscovery.

 

Your classic read for June

Nineteen eighty-four by George Orwell

With the 70th anniversary of 1984 on June 8th, it seems fitting to delve into this Orwellian classic. Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

 

Your classic read for July

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

2018 marks 200 years since Emily Brontë’s birth and what better time to read her masterpiece of passion, romance and vengeance. Wuthering Heights is one of those stories better known in popular culture and hearsay than in real depth but it won’t take you long to feel immersed in the remote and creepy Yorkshire Moors in this dark and romantic classic. In the company of Heathcliff – an orphan turned spurned lover turned gentleman turned villain – revenge, control and, allegedly, affection are the order of the day.

 

Your classic read for August

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Nothing captures the oppressive temperatures of high summer like Tennessee Williams’ prize-winning, classic play set in the deep south. Blanche falls on hard times and goes to stay with her sister and brother-in-law, a man she finds coarse, rude and unfriendly. Though Blanche’s sister is hospitable, her husband continues to drink, shout and generally upset the women in the house. His anger erupts and he attacks Blanche, leading to her ultimate breakdown and her sister’s estrangement, in this story of tension, claustrophobia and suffocating heat.

 

Your classic read for September

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

As you prepare for the return to school, spare a thought for Anne, the orphan adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, who, by the way, definitely hadn’t asked for a girl… Outspoken, strong-willed and just a little too clever, Anne takes a while to settle in and persuade Marilla that she ought to stay in Avonlea but after excelling at school and endearing all in the village to her, it’s hard for the Cuthberts to change their mind.

Your classic read for October

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

As the nights draw in and winter looms closer, why not take a moment to overturn your preconceived ideas about Frankenstein, the kindly scientist whose only true passion was to understand the magic of life. Unfortunately for him, and for several innocent villagers, his beastly creation, a monster made of miscellaneous body parts, had very different ideas. Shelley devised this story sitting with famous literary friends engaged in a horror-story-telling competition – very apt for our Halloween selection.

 

Your classic read for November

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

November marks the centenary of the end of World War One. In this classic tale of an American soldier serving in the Italian campaign, Frederic and Catherine’s relationship is blighted by far-flung postings, illness and prejudice. We see them struggling to make sense of their romance as well as the other fleeting relationships they form and the purpose of their struggles. Heavily inspired by Hemingway’s own time in Italy during the war, this poignant tale of love in the midst of war is immediate and moving.

 

Your classic read for December

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Prepare yourself for the party season with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s glitzy novel of excess, booze and the roaring twenties. Reluctant socialite and millionaire Jay Gatsby throws the parties to end all parties, with his mysterious business connections, society it-girls and local busybodies ever-present. But gossip and drama are never far away. If the champagne, sequins and glamour don’t get you in the mood, instead wallow in the remorse of the morning-after-the-night-before and console yourself that at least you didn’t accidentally, err, kill anyone.

 

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