P. L. Travers - Aunt Sass - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9780349005690
    • Publication date:06 Nov 2014
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Aunt Sass

Christmas Stories

By P. L. Travers
Illustrated by Gillian Tyler

  • Hardback
  • £9.99

In the 1940s, P. L. Travers wrote three stories, which she gave as Christmas gifts to friends. Now, for the first time, they are available to a wider readership. Printed on board, with beautiful illustrations, this will be the perfect gift book for Christmas.

Friends come in many guises. In these autobiographical stories, three characters - an eccentric great aunt, a Chinese cook and a foul-mouthed ex-jockey - assert a lifelong influence on the narrator, as she looks back over her childhood. Much like Mary Poppins, each comes into the child's life just when she needs them most. And each, however unlikely, becomes a friend and a champion to the young girl.

Charming, tender and moving, these stories, which were given to the author's friends as Christmas gifts, contain all the hallmarks you'd expect from such a magical writer. They are also fascinating for anybody who, after watching Saving Mr Banks, wants to find out more about Travers' early life. And best of all, you will meet the woman who was the inspiration for Mary Poppins.

Biographical Notes

P. L. Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff in 1899 in Queensland, Australia. She worked as a dancer and an actress, but writing was her real love and she turned to journalism. Travers set sail for England in 1924 and became an essayist, theatre and film critic, and scholar of folklore and myth. While recuperating from a serious illness Travers wrote Mary Poppins -'to while away the days, but also to put down something that had been in my mind for a long time,' she said. It was first published in 1934 and was an instant success. Mary Poppins has gone on to become one of the best-loved classics in children's literature and has enchanted generations. In addition to the Mary Poppins books, Travers wrote novels, poetry and non-fiction. She received an OBE in 1977 and died in 1996.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780349005683
  • Publication date: 06 Nov 2014
  • Page count: 128
  • Imprint: Virago
Abacus

The Amazing Test Match Crime

Adrian Alington
Authors:
Adrian Alington

All England waited with passionate eagerness for the final match to be played at the Oval. For this was to be played to a finish and would decide the fate of the Ashes.It is 1938 and England is brimming with excitement as the final Test Match against Imperia draws near. But no corner of the land has the fate of the Ashes closer to its heart than the village of Wattlecombe Ducis, Glebeshire.It was here at the Manor House that Norman Blood, captain of England, spent his childhood playing cricket with the vicar's radiant daughter, Monica. And it was she who presented young but poor Joe Prestwick with a belt on the occasion of his first game of cricket, saving his honour for as Sir Timothy Blood remarked, 'I would rather see the whole village dead at my feet than a man bowling in braces.'With a short - but sensational - career behind him, Joe just needs to be selected to play at the Oval to win Monica's heart and her hand in marriage: everything depends on the Test.But The Bad Men, Europe's most wanted gang, have no intention of letting the best team win. Sawn-off Carlo, The Professor and Ralph the Disappointment (an Englishman who, knowing the rules of the Game, is eternally damned for not playing by them) plan to strike a blow at the very heart of proud Albion and her Empire. The Amazing Test Match Crime, first published in 1939, is a wicked yet affectionate comedy of cricketing (and criminal) manners, proving - as if proof were needed - that a straight bat and nimble spinning finger will always win through.

Sphere

The War of the Worlds

H. G. Wells
Authors:
H. G. Wells

The classic and terrifying HG Wells novel of alien invasion is now a landmark series for the BBC from the makers of Poldark, Victoria and And Then There Were None. One night a shooting star is seen over the skies of Surrey. The next day, it's discovered to have been a mysterious metallic cylinder from Mars. What comes next is a terrifying alien attack, as tentacled Martian invaders emerge from the cylinder and prey on humankind using shocking new weapons against which the people of Victorian England can offer no resistance.The aliens begin to devastate the area in their tripod machines, and as our narrator struggles to return to his wife, the fight for London - and the world - begins. Now with a new introduction by Stephen Baxter.'A true classic'GUARDIAN'Immortal science fiction' TELEGRAPH

Abacus

Rope

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton
Sphere

Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackeray
Authors:
William Makepeace Thackeray
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Twopence Coloured

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

'I recommend Hamilton at every opportunity, because he was such a wonderful writer and yet is rather under-read today. All his novels are terrific' Sarah Waters'If you were looking to fly from Dickens to Martin Amis with just one overnight stop, then Hamilton is your man' Nick HornbyWest Kensington - grey area of rot, and caretaking, and cat-slinking basements. West Kensington - drab asylum for the driven and cast-off genteel!' Patrick Hamilton was acutely conscious that his third novel (first published in 1928) was longer and 'much grimmer' than his previous and well-received productions. Twopence Coloured is the story of nineteen-year-old Jackie Mortimer, who leaves Hove in search of a life on the London stage, only to become entangled in 'provincial theatre' and complex affairs of the heart with two brothers, Richard and Charles Gissing. The novel, unavailable for many years, is a gimlet-eyed portrait of the theatrical vocation, and fully exhibits Hamilton's celebrated gift for conjuring London - the 'vast, thronged, unknown, hooting, electric-lit, dark-rumbling metropolis.

Virago

The Seventh Cross

Anna Seghers
Authors:
Anna Seghers
Virago

Marriage

Susan Ferrier
Authors:
Susan Ferrier
Virago

A Little Princess

Frances Hodgson Burnett
Authors:
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Abacus

Craven House

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

'All his novels are terrific' Sarah WatersIn Craven House, among the shifting, uncertain world of the English boarding house, with its sad population of the shabby genteel on the way down - and the eternal optimists who would never get up or on - the young Patrick Hamilton, with loving, horrified fascination, first mapped out the territory that he would make, uniquely, his own. Although many of Hamilton's lifelong interests are here, they are handled with a youthful brio and optimism conspicuously absent from his later work. The inmates of Craven House have their foibles, but most are indulgently treated by an author whose world view has yet to harden from scepticism into cynicism. The generational conflicts of Hamilton's own youth thread throughout the narrative, with hair bobbing and dancing as the battle lines. That perennial of the 1920s bourgeoisie, the 'servant problem', is never far from the surface, and tensions crescendo gradually to a resolution one climactic dinnertime.

Virago

The Headmistress

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell
Virago

Miss Bunting

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell

Barsetshire in the war years. Miss Bunting, governess of choice to generations of Barsetshire aristocracy, has been coaxed out of retirement by Sir Robert and Lady Fielding to tutor their daughter Anne, delicate, sixteen years old, and totally lacking in confidence. When Anne makes friends with Heather Adams, the gauche daughter of a nouveau riche entrepreneur, her mother is appalled. Miss Bunting, however, shows an instinctive understanding of the younger generation - perhaps, having lost so many of her former pupils to the war, she is more sympathetic to their needs. She may be a part of the old social order, where everyone knows their place, but is wise enough to realise that the war has turned everything on its head and nothing will ever be the same again - even in rural Barsetshire.First published in 1945, Miss Bunting is a charming social comedy of village life during the Second World War.

Abacus

Hangover Square

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

The seventy-fifth anniversary edition, with a new introduction by Anthony Quinn.'I recommend Hamilton at every opportunity, because he was such a wonderful writer and yet is rather under-read today. All his novels are terrific' Sarah Waters'If you were looking to fly from Dickens to Martin Amis with just one overnight stop, then Hamilton is your man' Nick HornbyLondon, 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation. Netta is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in a drunken hell, except in his 'dead' moments, when something goes click in his head and he realises, without a doubt, that he must kill her. In the darkly comic Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton brilliantly evokes a seedy, fog-bound world of saloon bars, lodging houses and boozing philosophers, immortalising the slang and conversational tone of a whole generation and capturing the premonitions of doom that pervaded London life in the months before the war.

Virago

Valley Of The Dolls

Jacqueline Susann
Authors:
Jacqueline Susann
Virago

Before Lunch

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell
Virago

The Fox at the Manger

P. L. Travers
Authors:
P. L. Travers
Virago

The Praise Singer

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'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 MILLERMary 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 MANTELIn the story of the great lyric poet Simonides, Mary Renault brings alive a time in Greece when tyrants kept an unsteady rule and poetry, music, and royal patronage combined to produce a flowering of the arts. Born into a stern farming family on the island of Keos, Simonides escapes his harsh childhood through a lucky apprenticeship with a renowned Ionian singer. As they travel through 5th century B.C. Greece, Simonides learns not only how to play the kithara and compose poetry, but also how to navigate the shifting alliances surrounding his rich patrons. He is witness to the Persian invasion of Ionia, to the decadent reign of the Samian pirate king Polykrates, and to the fall of the Pisistratids in the Athenian court. Along the way, he encounters artists, statesmen, athletes, thinkers, and lovers, including the likes of Pythagoras and Aischylos. Using the singer's unique perspective, Renault combines her vibrant imagination and her formidable knowledge of history to establish a sweeping, resilient vision of a golden century.'There's much to say about her interweaving of myth and history and, just as interestingly, there's much to wonder at in the way she fills in the large dark spaces where we know next to nothing about the times she describes . . . an important and wonderful writer . . . she set a course into serious-minded, psychologically intense historical fiction that today seems more important than ever' - Sam Jordison, Guardian

Virago

Frenchman's Creek

Daphne Du Maurier
Authors:
Daphne Du Maurier

The 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.

Virago

I Go by Sea, I Go by Land

P. L. Travers, Gertrude Hermes
Contributors:
P. L. Travers, Gertrude Hermes

'James and I stayed on at home and everything was quiet and sunny and we got to thinking the war would never come after all . . . Just when we were so sure nothing would happen, the German plane came over. It came over one night at one o'clock in the morning and the sound was quite different from an English plane and we all woke up. You could hear it drumming and drumming like a big bee in a flower, buroom, buroom, buroom, round and round in the air above the house. Then suddenly there were five loud explosions. After that there was a terrible silence and I knew that Father and Mother were looking at each other in the darkness and I felt myself getting small and tight inside. Then Father said quietly, "Meg, they must go!"'Now I am going to write a Diary because we are going to America because of the War. It has just been decided. I will write down everything about it because we shall be so much older when we come back that I will never remember it if I do not. So this is the beginning. Oh, please let us come back soon, please.'This is the fictional diary of Sabrina Lind, an eleven-year-old English girl who, with her little brother James, is sent on the long voyage across the sea to her aunt in America.

Virago

Purposes of Love

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault
Virago

Return to Night

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

Losing out on a promotion to her ex lover, Hilary Mansell, a talented doctor, moves to a rural hospital. She is bored and unchallenged, but the routine and long hours dull her disappointment. When Julian Fleming is admitted with a serious head injury, Hilary's skill and quick thinking save his life, and after his recovery he seeks her out. Julian is handsome, intelligent and a decade younger than Hilary, and although at first she resists his advances, she cannot help falling in love with him. Julian is a gifted actor but denies himself the career he longs for, and she senses that beneath his charm and humour something is holding him back. Before long, it becomes clear that his overbearing mother makes all the decisions in his life, and she doesn't approve of his ambitions - or of Hilary.