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Miss Mole

Miss Mole

‘Who would suspect her sense of fun and irony, of a passionate love for beauty and the power to drag it from its hidden places? Who would imagine that Miss Mole had pictured herself, at different times, as an explorer in strange lands, as a lady wrapped in luxury and delicate garments?’


Miss Hannah Mole has for twenty years earned her living precariously as a governess or companion to a succession of difficult old women.Now, aged forty, a thin and shabby figure, she returns to Radstowe, the lovely city of her youth. Here she is, if not exactly welcomed, at least employed as housekeeper by the pompous Reverend Robert Corder, whose daughters are sorely in need of guidance. But even the dreariest situation can be transformed into an adventure by the indomitable Miss Mole. Blessed with imagination, wit and intelligence, she wins the affection of Ethel and her nervous sister Ruth. But her past holds a secret that, if brought to life, would jeopardise everything.


Dust Tracks On A Road

Dust Tracks On A Road

With a new introduction by JESMYN WARD

‘Zora Neale Hurston was a knockout in her life, a wonderful writer and a fabulous person. Devilishly funny and academically solid: delicious mixture’ MAYA ANGELOU


First published in 1942 at the height of her popularity, Dust Tracks on a Road is Zora Neale Hurston’s candid, exuberant account of her rise from childhood poverty in the rural South to a prominent place among the leading artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance. As compelling as her acclaimed fiction, Hurston’s literary self-portrait offers a revealing, often audacious glimpse into the life – public and private – of an extraordinary artist, anthropologist, chronicler and champion of the black experience in America. Full of the wit and wisdom of a proud, spirited woman who started off low and climbed high: ‘I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows with a harp and a sword in my hands.’

‘One of the greatest writers of our time’ TONI MORRISON
Jonah's Gourd Vine

Jonah's Gourd Vine

With a new introduction by JESMYN WARD

Born on the wrong side of the creek, John Buddy Pearson, the son of a slave, has come a long way since his shoeless days. With some schooling, a job and marriage to clever Lucy Potts, his fortunes are looking up. But, unable to resist the lure of women or a fight, he’s forced to flee town or face life on the chain gang.

John finds himself in Sanford, Florida, and sends for Lucy and the children. There, he discovers a talent for preaching, and, with the support of his wife, becomes pastor of Zion Hope Church, rousing his congregation with his fervent sermons. He is now a pillar of the community, respected and popular. Before long, though, he is praying for his own sins – for his powers of persuasion aren’t limited to the pulpit – and the town won’t stand for his philandering ways.

Originally published in 1934, this is Zora Neale Hurston’s first novel.
The Narrows

The Narrows

‘Petry is the writer we have been waiting for, hers are the stories we need to fully illuminate the questions of our moment, while also offering a page-turning good time. Ann Petry, the woman, had it all, and so does her insightful, prescient and unputdownable prose . . . The Narrows is the story of a doomed interracial romance that proves that passion and prejudice are not mutually exclusive’ Tayari Jones, New York Times

From the author of The Street, as heard on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime

Link Williams is a handsome and brilliant Dartmouth graduate who tends bar due to the lack of better opportunities for an African American man in a mid-century Connecticut town. The routine of Link’s life is interrupted when he intervenes to save a woman from a late-night attack. Due to the thick fog rolling in from the river, they cannot easily discern each other, so it is only when they enter a bar for a drink that Camillo sees her rescuer is black and Link learns that the woman is white. Camilo (Camilla Treadway Sheffield) is beautiful, wealthy and married: she has crossed the town’s racial divide to relieve the tedium of her life. Brought together by chance, Link and Camilo draw each other into furtive encounters that violate the rigid and uncompromising social codes of their times.
The Street

The Street

With a new introduction by TAYARI JONES, author of An American Marriage and winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 * As heard on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime

‘Ann Petry’s first novel, The Street, was a literary event in 1946, praised and translated around the world – the first book by a black woman to sell more than a million copies . . . Her work endures not merely because of the strength of its message but its artistry’ NEW YORK TIMES

‘My favorite type of novel, literary with an astonishing plot . . . insightful, prescient and unputdownable’ TAYARI JONES


New York City, 1940s. In a crumbling tenement in Harlem, Lutie Johnson is determined to build a new life for herself and her eight-year-old boy, Bub – a life that she can be proud of. Having left her unreliable husband, Lutie believes that with hard work and resolve, she can begin again; she has faith in the American dream. But in her struggle to earn money and raise her son amid the violence, poverty and racial dissonance of her surroundings, Lutie is soon trapped: she is a woman alone, ‘too good-looking to be decent’, with predators at every turn.
Eva's Man

Eva's Man

‘A literary giant, and one of my absolute favourite writers’ TAYARI JONES, author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE

Eva Medina Canada sits in her psychiatric ward, silent and unremorseful. She has murdered her lover and they want to know why. Her memories weave back and forth over encounters with the men in her life – the schoolboy who played doctors and nurses with a dirty popsicle stick; her mother’s boyfriend; her cousin; her husband; a stranger on the bus. She’s been propositioned and abused for as long as she can remember.


Corregidora was a small, fiercely concentrated story, harsh and perfectly told . . . Original, superbly imagined, nothing about the book was simple or easily digested. Out of the worn themes of miscegenation and diminishment, Gayl Jones excavated the disturbingly buried damage of racism. Eva’s Man is a deepened exploration of the woman’s inner life; of the pressures, the cruelties, the imposed expectations’
Darryl Pinckney, The New Republic



‘Gayl Jones is one furious, lacerating writer. You don’t read her easily, and you can’t forget her at all . . . Hyper-real and traumatic as this novel is, it’s one that’s been waiting to be written since Samuel Richardson gave us the male point of view of Clarissa, that other fallen woman whose only acceptable alternative to ravishment was death. Eva’s silence, and her status here as legally insane, are eloquent testimony to the condition of being a woman in this man’s world’ Kirkus
The Healing

The Healing

‘No novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this’ TONI MORRISON

‘Corregidora is the most brutally honest and painful revelation of what has occurred, and is occurring, in the souls of Black men and women’ JAMES BALDWIN

Upon publication in 1975, Corregidora was hailed as a masterpiece, winning acclaim from writers including James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and John Updike. Exploring themes such as race, sexuality and the long repercussions of slavery, this powerful novel paved the way for Beloved and The Colour Purple. Now, this lost classic is published for a new generation of readers.

Blues singer Ursa is consumed by her hatred of Corregidora, the nineteenth-century slave master who fathered both her mother and grandmother. Charged with ‘making generations’ to bear witness to the abuse embodied in the family name, Ursa Corregidora finds herself unable to keep alive this legacy when she is made sterile in a violent fight with her husband. Haunted by the ghosts of a Brazilian plantation, pained by a present of lovelessness and despair, Ursa slowly and firmly strikes her own terms with womanhood.

AS HEARD ON THE BACKLISTED PODCAST

‘A literary giant, and one of my absolute favourite writers’ TAYARI JONES, author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE

Also new to the VMC list: Eva’s Man and The Healing by Gayl Jones.

‘An American writer with a powerful sense of vital inheritance, of history in the blood’ JOHN UPDIKE

‘Gayl Jones’s first novel, Corregidora (1975), was both shocking and ground-breaking in its probing of the psychological legacy of slavery and sexual ownership through the life of a Kentucky blues singer … it predated Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, revealing an unfinished emancipation and the power of historical memory to shape lives. It also marked a shift in African-American literature that made women, and relationships between black people, central’ MAYA JAGGI, Guardian


‘Corregidora‘s survey of trauma and overcoming has become even better and more relevant with the passage of time. It remains an indispensable point of entry into the tradition of African American writing that Gayl Jones reshaped and enriched’ PAUL GILROY

Wave Me Goodbye

Wave Me Goodbye

This collection of wartime stories includes some of the finest writers of a generation. War had traditionally been seen as a masculine occupation, but these stories show how women were equal if different participants. Here, war is less about progress on the frontline of battle than about the daily struggle to keep homes, families and relationships alive; to snatch pleasure from danger, and strength from shared experience. The stories are about saying goodbye to husbands, lovers, brothers and sons – and sometimes years later trying to remake their lives anew. By turn comical, stoical, compassionate, angry and subversive, these intensely individual voices bring a human dimension to the momentous events that reverberated around them and each opens a window on to a hidden landscape of war.

Writers include: Jean Rhys, Beryl Bainbridge, Elizabeth Bowen, Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Smith, Rosamond Lehmann, Barbara Pym, Angela Thirkell, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Olivia Manning, Rose Macaulay and Stevie Smith
The Wedding

The Wedding

With a new introduction by DIANA EVANS

‘A writer of huge compassion and acute observation, and also of dazzling style . . . Her work is more relevant than ever’ Diana Evans


‘Timelessly cinematic, with painterly visual descriptions and pitch-perfect dialogue that ranges across class, region, race, age, and gender’ Emma Garman, Paris Review


Set on a bucolic Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950s, The Wedding tells the story of life in the Oval, a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast’s black bourgeoisie. Within this inner circle of ‘blue-vein society’, we witness the prominent Coles family gather for the wedding of their loveliest daughter, Shelby, who could have chosen from ‘a whole area of eligible men of the right colors and the right professions.’ Instead, she has fallen in love with and is about to be married to Mead Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. A shock wave breaks over the Oval as its longtime members grapple with the changing face of its community.

Not just the story of one wedding, but of many, this compelling story offers insights into issues of race, prejudice and identity while maintaining its firm belief in the compensatory power of love.

Through a delicate interweaving of past and present, North and South, black and white, The Wedding unfolds outward from a single isolated time and place until it embraces five generations of an extraordinary American family. It is an audacious accomplishment, a monumental history of the rise of a black middle class, written by a writer who lived it. Wise, heartfelt, and shattering, it is Dorothy West’s crowning achievement.
The Richer, The Poorer

The Richer, The Poorer

‘A writer of huge compassion and acute observation, and also of dazzling style . . . Her work is more relevant than ever’ DIANA EVANS

An incredible collection of writing – both essays and short stories – spanning the long career of Dorothy West. Includes a new introduction by Diana Evans.

‘West’s work is timelessly cinematic, with painterly visual descriptions and pitch-perfect dialogue that ranges across class, region, race, age, and gender’ Emma Garman, Paris Review

The stories contained here are as American as jazz, and as wise and multifaceted as their writer. Dorothy West’s metier is the unique crucible in which America places its black middle class, but her themes are universal: the daily misunderstandings between young and old, men and women, rich and poor that can lead to tragedy; and the ways in which bonds of family and community can bring us together, and tear us asunder.

Dorothy West’s autobiographical essays explore the poles of her remarkable life – from growing up black and middle-class in Boston to her near-mythic trip to Moscow in 1933 with Langston Hughes and other Harlem Renaissance writers to life on her beloved Martha’s Vineyard. They cohere into a beautiful and poignant memoir of a singular American life, a memoir that communicates with her short stories in a host of fertile ways. Taken as a whole, The Richer, The Poorer is a triumphant celebration of the long life and work of one of America’s genuine treasures.
Noel Streatfeild’s Holiday Stories

Noel Streatfeild’s Holiday Stories

by Noel Streatfeild Illustrated by Peter Bailey
A NEW COLLECTION OF HOLIDAY STORIES BY THE BELOVED AUTHOR OF BALLET SHOES. PERFECT READING FOR LONG SUMMER DAYS.


In this captivating new collection, there are stories for every reader to enjoy: unforgettable holidays and unlikely friendships, crime-solving adventures and dancers in the spotlight for the very first time.

Originally written for annuals and magazines from the 1930s-70s, these newly discovered stories will be treasured by Noel Streatfeild fans of all ages.

Featuring beautiful illustrations by PETER BAILEY

Stories include:

The Plain One
Devon Mettle
Chicken for Supper
Flag’s Circus
The Secret
Coralie
Ordinary Me
Cows Eat Flowers
Andrew’s Trout
The Old Fool
Let’s Go Coaching
Howard
The Quiet Holiday
Roberta
Green Silk
Chasm: A Weekend

Chasm: A Weekend

A Surrealist novel in the vein of Angela Carter, about love and beauty and dark secrets.

Played out like the command of an oracle are the events that stain one night in the improbable setting of this desert tale. Rearing its impudent architecture like insult on a landscape of quiet beauty is Windcote, “its very name a masquerade,” where inhabitants and guests find themselves driven by obsessions and confusions they have never faced before. Here doors open and close and open again. They hide, release, reveal, and ruin. In this web of tangled imperatives is the child, Destina, untouched by the fevers and failures around her. Her own world is outside in the mystery-locked canyon where, for the time of this story, she seems to find her own truth
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