Abacus 40th Anniversary Collection

  • 40 years of original writing

    Abacus 40

    A collection of 18 titles that celebrate Abacus's 40 year history of publishing influential, unique and trailblazing books that have shaped the reading landscape.
by Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory - Introduction

An Abacus 40 publication
Read Iain Banks' introduction to his first book, The Wasp Factory, the novel that announced a genius.
Celebrating 40 years of original writing

Abacus 40 Twitter Avatars

Download the Twitter Avatars of your favourite Abacus 40 books.
by Tim Harford

The Undercover Economist - Introduction

An Abacus 40 Publication
Author Tim Harford's introduction to The Undercover Economist: the book that revealed what really motivates us.
by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram - Introduction

An Abacus 40 Publication
The introduction the Gregory David Roberts' Abacus 40 edition of 'Shantaram': the book that inspired a million journeys.
from Jane Gardam

Old Filth - Introduction

An Abacus 40 Publication
Introduction to the Abacus 40 edition of Jane Gardam's 'Old Filth': the book that made the stiff upper lip tremble.
Abacus

The Glass Room

By Simon Mawer

Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room.

High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of WW2 gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor's lover and her child.

But the house's story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events become full-circle.

The book that shone new light on our times: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009, The Glass Room is being reissued with a new cover alongside other classic titles from the Abacus list in our 40th Anniversary year.Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He has lived with his wife in Italy for more than 20 years, and he teaches at the English School in Rome.

On honeymoon in Venice in 1928, Viktor and Liesel Landauer face a new world when they meet brilliant architect Rainer von Abt. Soon, on a hillside near a provincial Czech town, the Landauer house with its celebrated Glass Room will become a modernist masterpiece of travertine floors and onyx walls, filled with light and optimism. But as Viktor is Jewish, when Nazi troops arrive the family must flee.

The house slips from hand to hand, Nazi to Soviet and finally to the Czechoslovak state. It becomes a laboratory, a shelter from the storm of war, and a place where the broken and the ruined find some kind of comfort until, with the collapse of Communism, the Landauers can finally return to where their story began.

'Mawer creates a passionately detailed portrait of individuals struggling to snatch order and happiness from frightening, irrational times . . . truly enjoyable to read' Rachel Aspden, Sunday Telegraph

'Exciting, profoundly affecting and altogether wonderful' Daily Mail

The Glass Room has sold 70,000 copies to date (TCM).With a new introduction by the author for this Abacus 40th anniversary edition.Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009.Reissued to celebrate Abacus's 40 year history of publishing influential, unique and trail-blazing books that have shaped the reading landscapeThe Glass Room - the book that looked at the 20th century anew
by Valerie Martin

Property - Introduction

An Abacus 40 Publication
Valerie Martin introduces her book' 'Porperty': the book that dared to tell a different story.
from Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Introduction

An Abacus 40 Publication
Alexander McCall Smith's introduction to the Abacus 40 edition of 'The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency': the book that made us all feel wonderful.
Abacus

Property

By Valerie Martin

Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans, but most of all, she longs to be free of the suffocating domestic situation. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl who may have been given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie.

This private drama is being played out against a brooding atmosphere of slave unrest and bloody uprisings. And if the attacks reach Manon's house, no one can be sure which way Sarah will turn . . .

Beautifully written, Property is an intricately told tale of both individual stories and of a country in a time of change, where ownership is at once everything and nothing, and where belonging, by contrast, is all.

The book that dared to tell a different story: Property, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2003, is being reissued with a new cover alongside other classic titles from the Abacus list in our 40th Anniversary yearValerie Martin is the author of six other novels and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi, SALVATION.

'The writing - so prised and clean-limbed - is a marvel' Toni Morrison

Property is Valerie Martin's powerful, startling novel set in America's deep South in the early nineteenth century.

Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for her native New Orleans, but most of all she longs to be free of her suffocating domestic situation. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl given to Manon as a wedding present, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie. This private drama is played out against a brooding atmosphere of unrest and bloody uprisings, as the whispers of a slave rebellion grow louder and more threatening . . .

A powerful, startling novel set in America's Deep South in the early 19th century - a story of freedom, both political and personal.With a new introduction by the author for this Abacus 40th anniversary edition.Property has sold almost 70,000 copies (TCM).