The Fox at the Manger
By P. L. Travers
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.
By 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.
The Flint Anchor
By Sylvia Townsend Warner
John Barnard, leading merchant at a Norfolk port, is a pillar of nineteenth-century rectitude. Though stern and aloof with his indolent, tippling wife and watchful children, he is undermined by helpless love for his pretty, cold-hearted daughter Mary.THE FLINT ANCHOR subverts the rules of the historical novel and shows how family history is made- which stories can be trusted, whose voices hold influence and whose are forgotten. Wit, charm and intelligence illuminate several decades of family life and the events of small town society in this tragi-comedy of manners, the last of the author's seven novels.
A Far Cry From Kensington
By Muriel Spark
When Mrs Hawkins tells Hector Bartlett he is a 'pisseur de copie', that 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.
By Kate O'Brien
This distinctly personal elegy was written during the early days of the Spanish Civil War by a writer whose future was indelibly marked by a year of travelling in a unique and changing country. A series of reminiscences, impressions and vivid insights, Kate O'Brien's thoughtful journey offers something unique at every stage, and captures perfectly the spirit of a lost place and the experience of travel and memory.
Fraulein Schmidt And Mr Anstruther
By Elizabeth von Arnim
This enchanting novel tells the story of the love affair between Rose-Marie Schmidt and Roger Anstruther. A determined young woman of twenty-five, Rose-Marie is considered a spinster by the inhabitants of the small German town of Jena where she lives with her father, the Professor. To their homes comes Roger, an impoverished but well-born young Englishman who wishes to learn German: Rose-Marie and Roger fall in love. But the course of true love never did run smooth: distance, temperament and fortune divide them. We watch the ebb and flow of love between two very different people and see the witty and wonderful Rose-Marie get exactly what she wants.
The Flight Of The Falcon
By Daphne Du Maurier
As a young guide for Sunshine Tours, Armino Fabbio leads a pleasant, if humdrum life -- until he becomes circumstantially involved in the murder of an old peasant woman in Rome. The woman, he gradually comes to realise, was his family's beloved servant many years ago, in his native town of Ruffano. He returns to his birthplace, and once there, finds it is haunted by the phantom of his brother, Aldo, shot down in flames in '43.Over five hundred years before, the sinister Duke Claudio, known as The Falcon, lived his twisted, brutal life, preying on the people of Ruffano. But now it is the twentieth century, and the town seems to have forgotten its violent history. But have things really changed? The parallels between the past and present become ever more evident.
By Margaret Laurence
Okay God, say what you like, but I damn well wish I could get away just sometimes by myself. But no. It's a criminal offense, nearly. What makes any of them think they've got the right to tell me, own me, always have me there.'Stacey, aged thirty-nine, looks at the unmade bed, the pile of laundry - perhaps everything would be alright if she were better educated, or if she were beautiful, or slimmer? Her marriage has worn threadbare, the children are growing up, and beneath the suburban façade of salesman's wife and competent mother, Stacey questions herself and berates a Creator she trusts and doubts by turns. Feeling inadequate and rebellious, she retaliates by finding another, younger man. The excitement of the affair is palpable, but its benefits are short-lived; drink satisfies another kind of craving, but bottles run dry without offering a real solution. The only way Stacey can resolve her crisis is by understanding the woman she sees in the mirror... Written in Margaret Lawrence's original and distinctive style, this is a compassionate exploration of an all too familiar dilemma.