Sylvia Townsend Warner - The Corner That Held Them - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9780748131761
    • Publication date:01 Mar 2012
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The Corner That Held Them

By Sylvia Townsend Warner

  • Paperback
  • £8.99

A masterful historical novel of monastic life, set in the 14th century. Many consider this Townsend Warner's most accomplished work.

'One of the great British novels of the twentieth century: a narrative of extraordinary reach, power and beauty' SARAH WATERS

In memory of the wife who had once dishonoured and always despised him, Brian de Retteville founded Oby - a twelfth-century convent in a hidden corner of Norfolk. Two centuries later the Benedictine community is well established there and, as befits a convent whose origin had such chequered motives, the inhabitants are prey to the ambitions, squabbles, jealousies and pleasures of less spiritual environments. An outbreak of the Black Death, the collapse of the convent spire, the Bishop's visitation and a nun's disappearance are interwoven with the everyday life of the nuns, novices, successive Prioresses and the nun's priest, in this affectionate and ironic observation of the more wordly history of a religious order.

Biographical Notes

Born in Harrow (1893-1978), Sylvia Townsend Warner published seven novels, four volumes of poetry, a volume of essays and eight volumes of short stories. She lived most of her adult life with her close companion Valentine Ackland in Dorset and Norfolk.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781844088041
  • Publication date: 01 Mar 2012
  • Page count: 416
  • Imprint: Virago
A spellbinding piece of historical fiction - spare, luminous . . . One starts rereading as soon as one has reached the last page — Sunday Times
The Corner That Held Them is witty, knowledgeable, and gently on the side of women — Andrew Miller, Guardian
A very subversive novel about a Fenland nunnery during the years of the Black Death, which sounds like not a barrel of laughs but is very, very funny and haunting and strange like all her novels. The reason I love books about nuns is that the enclosed world of the convent is such a brilliant metaphor. Nun books are as much about politics and power as they are about spirituality. — Patrick Gayle
One of the great British novels of the twentieth century: a narrative of extraordinary reach, power and beauty — Sarah Waters
A magnificent recreation of the life of a medieval convent, dense with physical detail and imagined lives — Philip Hensher, DAILY TELEGRAPH
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At the age of eighty-five my grandfather Napoleon decided he needed to try something new . . . Everything starts to go south when Napoleon leaves his wife. An eighty-five-year-old former boxer with a restless, youthful spirit, Napoleon decides to say to hell with it all! He wants a new life. With his ten-year-old grandson Leonard Sunshine, he embarks on a moving adventure, a rebellion against everything that takes the fun out of life. Above all, Leonard is determined to spare his grandfather the fate of the elderly - his final years spent exiled in a retirement home. The chaotic duo adopt a dog, drive a fake taxi, escape to the seaside, sabotage door-to-door salesmen and plot to kidnap a famous radio star. From the heart of Paris to the coast of Normandy, The Last Adventure of Napoleon Sunshine is a moving, life-affirming and melancholy tale of new beginnings and the importance of family.

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The Flint Anchor

Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Lolly Willowes

Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Lolly Willowes is a twenty-eight-year-old spinster when her adored father dies, leaving her dependent upon her brothers and their wives. After twenty years of self-effacement as a maiden aunt, she decides to break free and moves to a small Bedfordshire village. Here, happy and unfettered, she enjoys her new existence nagged only by the sense of a secret she has yet to discover. That secret - and her vocation - is witchcraft, and with her cat and a pact with the Devil, Lolly Willowes is finally free. An instant success on its publication in 1926, LOLLY WILLOWES is Sylvia Townsend Warner's first and most magical novel. Deliciously wry and inviting, it was her piquant plea that single women find liberty and civility, a theme that would later be explored by Virginia Woolf in 'A Room of One's Own'.

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After The Death Of Don Juan

Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Published in 1938, mirroring the author's concern with the background to the Spanish Civil War, this novel mixes legend and history, in tracing the disappearance of Don Juan.

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The True Heart

Sylvia Townsend Warner
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This is the love story of Sukey Bond and Eric Seaborn.Sukey is an orphan, in service, the lowest of the low. It is 1873, and in her first position as a servant girl on a farm in the Essex Marshes, she meets Eric- gentle, simple, a 'holy fool.' The lovers are parted by Eric's rich mother, ashamed of her idiot son. But nothing can deter Sukey. Only Queen Victoria, she feels, can help, so she sets off to see her. Extraordinary things happen on this heroic journey, but Sukey's simple love and courage carry her to final victory- reunion with her beloved Eric and love triumphant.For it is love itself which is the subject of this deceptively simple novel, and it appears in many guises, transforming THE TRUE HEART into a sophisticated exploration- and more, a celebration- of the human heart. First published in 1929, it shows Sylvia Townsend Warner, a novelist of extraordinary freshness, sensitivity and imagination, at the peak of her powers.

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Selected Stories

Sylvia Townsend Warner
Authors:
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A brother and sister, shattered by the horrors of war, find solace in a tender, incestuous 'marriage'. A wife, bored and rancorous, stitches a widow's quilt. An old level-crossing keeper watches over his speechless, disfigured niece. In this magnificent selection of her stories, ranging from 1932 to 1977, Sylvia Townsend Warner casts a compassionate but piercing eye on the oddities of love. There's the joyously farcical story of the mouse and the four-poster bed, the strange fugue of a sad woman and her doppelganger cat, the composer unexpectedly spending an afternoon 'living for others'. And finally, there's the skein of stories reporting on the events of Elfland, precise, witty and strange. Readers who know this author's work will be delighted, while newcomers will find the perfect introduction to a writer of incomparable style and substance.

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Mr Fortune's Maggot

Sylvia Townsend Warner
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The Reverend Timothy Fortune, ex-clerk of the Hornsey Branch of Lloyds Bank, has spent ten years as a South Seas Island missionary when a 'maggot' impels him to embark on what he describes as a 'sort of pious escapade' - an assignment to the even more remote island of Fanua, where a white man is a rarity.Mr Fortune is a good man, humble, earnest - he wishes to bring the joys of Christianity to the innocent heathen. But in his three years on Fanua he makes only one convert - the boy Lueli, who loves him. This love, and the sensuous freedom of the islanders produces in Mr Fortune a change of heart which is shattering...Beautifully imagined, the paradise island and its people are as vivid as a Gauguin painting. Told with the driest of wise humour, touching and droll by turns, its theme - that we can never love anything without messing it about - is only one of the delights of this enchanting book.

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Angela Thirkell (1890-1961) was the eldest daughter of John William Mackail, a Scottish classical scholar and civil servant, and Margaret Burne-Jones. Her relatives included the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin, and her grandfather was J. M. Barrie. She was educated in London and Paris, and began publishing articles and stories in the 1920s. In 1931 she brought out her first book, a memoir entitled Three Houses, and in 1933 her comic novel High Rising - set in the fictional county of Barsetshire, borrowed from Trollope - met with great success. She went on to write nearly thirty Barsetshire novels, as well as several further works of fiction and non-fiction. She was twice married and had four children.

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Christobel Kent was born in London and educated at Cambridge. She has lived variously in Essex, London and Italy. Her childhood included several years spent on a Thames sailing barge in Maldon, Essex with her father, stepmother, three siblings and four step-siblings. She now lives in both Cambridge and Florence with her husband and five children.

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