Muriel Spark - A Far Cry From Kensington - Little, Brown Book Group

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  • Hardback
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    • ISBN:9781844085279
    • Publication date:01 May 2008
  • E-Book £P.O.R.
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    • ISBN:9781405530491
    • Publication date:09 May 2013
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A Far Cry From Kensington

By Muriel Spark

  • Paperback
  • £8.99

The divine Spark is shining at her brightest . . . Pure delight' Claire Tomalin, INDEPENDENT

'Mercurially funny, playful and mischievous' Ali Smith

'I was in heaven reading this book. I think she writes like an angel . . . just blissful' Stephen Fry

A novel of 'pure delight' (Claire Tomalin) by the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

When Mrs Hawkins tells Hector Bartlett he 'urinates frightful prose', little does she realise the repercussions. Holding that 'no life can be carried on satisfactorily unless people are honest' Mrs Hawkins refuses to retract her judgement, and as a consequence, loses not one, but two much-sought-after jobs in publishing. Now, years older, successful, and happily a far cry from Kensington, she looks back over the dark days that followed, in which she was embroiled in a mystery involving anonymous letters, quack remedies, blackmail and suicide.

With an introduction by Ali Smith.

'Wonderfully entertaining.' Sunday Telegraph

'An outstanding novel ... A Far Cry From Kensington has an effortless, translucent grasp of the spirit of the period.' Observer

Biographical Notes

Muriel Spark, D.B.E, C. Litt, was born in Edinburgh in 1918. A poet and novelist, she also wrote children's books, radio plays, a comedy, 'Doctors of Philosophy', first performed in London in 1962, and biographies. She is best known for her stories and many successful novels, including Memento Mori, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Loitering With Intent, The Comforters, A Far Cry from Kensington and The Public Image. For her long career of literary achievement, Muriel Spark won international praise and many awards, including the David Cohen British Literature Award, the T. S. Eliot Award, the Saltire Prize, the Boccaccio Prize for European Literature, the Gold Pen Award and the Italia Prize for dramatic radio. Muriel Spark was given an honorary doctorate of Letters from a number of universities, London, Edinburgh and Oxford among these. She died in 2006.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781844085514
  • Publication date: 05 Nov 2009
  • Page count: 208
  • Imprint: Virago
The divine Spark is shining at her brightest . . . Pure delight — Claire Tomalin, INDEPENDENT
An outstanding novel . . . A FAR CRY FROM KENSINGTON has an effortless, translucent grasp of the spirit of the period — OBSERVER
'Wonderfully entertaining - full of absurd, comical, engaging characters and written with typical wit, elegance and aplomb — SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
One of Muriel Spark's most liberating, liberated and meditative novels. Spark is a writer who can take the meditative and make it mercurially funny, playful and mischievous — Ali Smith
Virago

Wave Me Goodbye

Anne Boston
Authors:
Anne Boston

This collection of short stories written by women when war was a way of life includes some of the finest women writers of that 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, Elizabeth Bowen, Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Smith, Rosamond Lehmann, Barbara Pym, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Olivia Manning, Rose Macaulay and Stevie Smith

Virago

Dust Tracks On A Road

Zora Neale Hurston
Authors:
Zora Neale Hurston

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

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Zora Neale Hurston
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Zora Neale Hurston

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.

Abacus

The Amazing Test Match Crime

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Adrian Alington

The best cricket novel ever written . . .Before 'Sandpapergate' there was The Amazing Test Match Crime.'Cricket is the great narrative sport, and a close, hard-fought Test Match is the nearest any sport comes to the structure, rhythm and feel of a good novel. The opening is there, if someone is brave enough to take it . . .' Marcus BerkmannEngland are due to play Australia Imperia (names have been changed for legal reasons) at the Oval, in the final Test of the summer.The series hangs in the balance when England's Captain and star player disappears without trace . . .A wonderful novel which reads like a cross between an episode of Blackadder and England, Their England.

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Corregidora

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Gayl Jones

'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'No novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this' TONI MORRISONUpon 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, a 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 PODCASTAlso 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

Virago

Noel Streatfeild's Christmas Stories

Noel Streatfeild
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Noel Streatfeild
Virago

The Seventh Cross

Anna Seghers
Authors:
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A rediscovered German classic novel from 1942, The Seventh Cross is both a gripping escape story and a powerful novel of resistance. 'At once a suspenseful manhunt story and a knowing portrait of the perils of ordinary life in Hitler's Germany, The Seventh Cross is not only an important novel, but an important historical document. This new, unabridged translation is a genuine publishing event' JOSEPH KANON, author of The Good German and Leaving Berlin'It was [Seghers] who taught my generation and anyone who had an ear to listen after that not-to-be-forgotten war to distinguish right from wrong. The Seventh Cross shaped me; it sharpened my vision' Gunter Grass'A masterpiece. Written in the midst of terror, but with such clarity, such acuity; Seghers is a writer of rare insight' Rachel Seiffert, author of A Boy in WinterSeven prisoners escape from Westhofen concentration camp. Seven crosses are erected in the grounds and the commandant vows to capture the fugitives within a week. Six men are caught quickly, but George Heisler slips through his pursuers' fingers and it becomes a matter of pride to track him down, at whatever cost.Who can George trust? Who will betray him? The years of fear have changed those he knew best: his brother is now an SS officer; his lover turns him away. Hunted, injured and desperate, time is running out for George, and whoever is caught aiding his escape will pay with their life.The Seventh Cross powerfully documents the insidious rise of a fascist regime - the seething paranoia, the sudden arrests, the silence and fear.'A fascinating insight into life in pre-war Nazi Germany just as the horrors of the Nazi regime were beginning to unfold. This is an important novel, as much for its picture of German society as for its insight into the psyche of ordinary people confronting their personal fears and mixed loyalties' Simon Mawer, author of The Glass RoomThe Seventh Cross was written by one of the most important German writers of the twentieth century. Her aim was to write, 'A tale that makes it possible to get to know the many layers of fascist Germany through the fortunes of a single man.' She had four copies of the manuscript: one was destroyed in an air raid; a friend lost the second copy while fleeing the Nazis; another was found by the Gestapo; only the fourth copy survived, which, fortunately, she sent to her publisher in America just before she escaped Nazi-occupied France. Published in 1942, The Seventh Cross was an immediate bestseller and was the basis for an MGM film starring Spencer Tracy in 1944. It has been translated into more than 40 languages.

Virago

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The Observing Eye

Muriel Spark
Authors:
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The Observing Eye is a collection of Muriel Spark's brilliant asides, sayings, and aphorisms. No other writer can hold a candle to her wry, puckish observations:'Neurotics are awfully quick to notice other people's mentalities.''It is impossible to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles.''The sacrifice of pleasure is of course itself a pleasure.''Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time in your life it may occur.''Ridicule is the only honourable weapon we have left.'Spark's striking insights are precise and unforgettable - they will make you laugh and nod in agreement, with a wicked smile on your face. Her wise words never fail to hit exactly the right note.

Virago

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Authors:
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Susan Ferrier sold more copies of her novels than her contemporary, Jane Austen. Sir Walter Scott declared her his equal. Why, then has she been lost to history? On the 200th anniversary of this sharply observed, comic novel, it is time to rediscover her brilliance.'What have you to do with a heart? What has anybody to do with a heart when their establishment in life is at stake? Keep your heart for your romances, child, and don't bring such nonsense into real life - heart, indeed!'Understanding that the purpose of marriage is to further her family, Lady Juliana nevertheless rejects the ageing and unattractive - though appropriately wealthy - suitor of her father's choice. She elopes, instead, with a handsome, penniless soldier and goes to Scotland to live at Glenfarn Castle, his paternal home. But Lady Juliana finds life in the Scottish highlands dreary and bleak, hastily repenting of following her heart.After giving birth to twin daughters, Lady Juliana leaves Mary to the care of her sister-in-law, while she returns to England with Adelaide. Sixteen years later, Mary is thoughtful, wise and kind, in comparison to her foolish mother and vain sister. Following two generations of women, Marriage, first published in 1818, is a shrewdly observant and humorous novel by one of Scotland's greatest writers.

Virago

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Contributors:
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Virago

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Abacus

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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.

Little, Brown

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For the first time since the war, the Christmas peal is ringing at St Paul's Cathedral. There is joy. There is new hope. It is Christmas Eve, the carol service has ended, and a woman with three small boys leaves the cathedral, the children swooping like pigeons. 'Why weren't there any wild animals at the crib? Haven't they got something to give?' asked one of the children.And I heard myself say, 'Yes, they have.'Was it true, what I told them? Did I dream it? Where it came from I do not know but I seemed to remember every word, just as if I had heard it . . .Outside the cathedral, the children are told the nativity story from a unique perspective: that of a fox. Despite the scorn of the other animals, he enters the stable to offer the child a gift that only he can give.

Virago

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Authors:
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She let herself out of the large, untidy house and into her own beautiful, hyacinth-scented one. She sat down in the bay-window of her bedroom and combed her hair before the mirror. She took it all down and built it up again, but there was no one to see what she had done.*In 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 painfully 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, Independent