Related to: 'Coming of age classics'

Virago

Invitation To The Waltz

Rosamond Lehmann

On her seventeenth birthday, Olivia Curtis receives: a diary for her innermost thoughts, a china ornament, a ten-shilling note and a roll of flame-coloured silk for her first ball dress. She anticipates the dance, the greatest and most terrifying event of her life so far, with uncertainty and excitement. For her pretty sister Kate, it is sure to be a triumph, but what will it be for shy, awkward Olivia? Rosamond Lehmann, one of the best-loved writers of the twentieth century, perfectly captures the emotions of a girl poised on the threshold of womanhood.

Virago

The River

Rumer Godden

'You can't stop days or rivers . . . ' Harriet is between two worlds. Her older sister is no longer a playmate, her brother is still a child. And the comforting rhythm of her Indian childhood - the noise from the jute works, the colourful festivals that accompany each season and the eternal ebb and flow of the river on its journey to the Bay of Benghal - is about to be shattered by a tragic event. The River is Rumer Godden's beautiful tribute to India and to childhood.

Virago

Slammerkin

Emma Donoghue

'Strangers might remember a trip to see a girl hang, but who would spare a thought for the whos and hows and whys?' At thirteen, Mary, the daughter of a poor seamstress, longs for fine clothes as her neighbours hunger for food and warmth. For the love of a gorgeous red ribbon she finds herself seduced into a life on the cold, dangerous streets of late 1700s London. Her saviour is Doll, a gaudy young woman who takes her under her wing. But Mary soon discovers that she can't escape her past and that people like her pay must pay dearly for yearnings not fitting to their class . . .

Virago

Tipping The Velvet

Sarah Waters
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My Brilliant Career

Miles Franklin

Trapped on her parents' farm in the hardscrabble Australian outback, sixteen-year-old Sybylla Melvyn loves the bush but not the toil it brings. She longs for refinement, and most of all she longs to achieve great things. Suddenly she falls under the gaze of wealthy, handsome Harry Beecham . . . and finds herself choosing between the conventional path of marriage and her plans for a 'brilliant career'.

Virago

The Weather In The Streets

Rosamond Lehmann

Taking up where AN INVITATION TO THE WALTZ left off, THE WEATHER IN THE STREETS shows us Olivia Curtis ten years older, a failed marriage behind her, thinner, sadder, and apprently not much wiser. A chance encounter on a train with a man who enchanted her as a teenager leads to a forbidden love affair and a new world of secret meetings, brief phone calls and snatched liaisons in anonymous hotel rooms. Years ahead of its time when first published, this subtle and powerful novel shocked even the most stalwart Lehmann fans with its searing honesty and passionate portrayal of clandestine love.

Virago

Life Mask

Emma Donoghue
Virago

Breakfast with the Nikolides

Rumer Godden

For Emily Pool, India is a magical place where she has the freedom to escape her mother's suffocating influence. Her days are spent exploring the canals and gardens of East Bengal, and admiringly observing her glamorous, dignified neighbours, the Nikolides. But just as the cracks in Emily's family home are papered over, so do the Pools strive to maintain an outward impression of respectability, and it is through the Nikolides that Emily is exposed to a world of adult deceit and attrition. And when her beloved dog dies, the event forces a confrontation and reveals to Emily that nothing in the town is quite as it seems . . .

Virago

The Lady and the Unicorn

Rumer Godden
Virago

Touchy Subjects

Emma Donoghue

How do you make conversation with a sperm donor? How do you say someone's novel is drivel? Would you give a screaming baby brandy? In what words would you tell your girlfriend to pluck a hair on her chin? Touchy Subjects is about things that make people wince: taboos, controversies, secrets and lies. Some of the events that characters crash into are grand, tragic ones: miscarriage, overdose, missing persons, a mother who deserts her children. Other topics, like religion and money, are not inherently taboo, but they can cause acute discomfort because people disagree so vehemently. Many of these stories are about the spectrum of constrained, convoluted feeling that runs from awkwardness through embarrassment to shame.

Virago

Selected Letters Of Edith Sitwell

Richard Greene, Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was, through four decades, the most prominent and celebrated woman poet in Britain. Among the notable admirers of her work were Siegfried Sassoon, WB Yeats and Gertrude Stein, Stephen Spender and Marianne Moore. Just after her death, Allen Tate described her in The New York Times as 'one of the great poets of the twentieth century'. Even as one allows for the ebb and flow of literary reputations, Edith Sitwell will have permanent claim on the attention of readers and literary scholars. She and her two brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, were the focus of a movement in English Literature described as an 'alternative Bloomsbury'. This volume includes unpublished letters to many significant figures, including WB Yeats, Bertrand Russell and Benjamin Britten. It also contains letters that illuminate Sitwell's relations with other women writers, among them, Gertrude Stein and Rosamond Lehmann. 'I am besotted with this dotty old bat. Britain's most celebrated and eccentric female poet, she dashed off reams of witty, newsy, mischievous letters in exquisitely beautiful prose. Every letter is a gem' - Val Hennessy (one of her top ten books for 1997), Daily Mail

Virago

Penelope

Rebecca Harrington
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Mossy Trotter

Elizabeth Taylor
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Complete Short Stories

Elizabeth Taylor
Virago

The Dud Avocado

Elaine Dundy
The start of a magnificent new trilogy

An Extract from The Summer Queen

Overflowing with scandal, sex, triumph and tragedy. Read the first chapter of The Summer Queen, the gripping new novel from New York Times Bestseller, Elizabeth Chadwick.

Virago

The Echoing Grove

Rosamond Lehmann

Two sisters: Madeleine and Dinah. One husband: Rickie Masters. For many years now, Dinah, exotic and sensual, has conducted a clandestine affair with Rickie. Madeleine, calm and resolute, has accepted that her marriage has been of limited success. Rickie's sudden death makes widows of both sisters in this highly imaginative novel that explores with extraordinary insight the sublimity, the rivalry and the pain of personal relationships. 'She makes a mood, an atmosphere, which is never forgotten . . . The inner voice of women talking to themselves about their love affairs, knowing that it is hopeless, having to go ahead anyway, expecting the end as soon as it begins. That, of course, is what Rosamond Lehmann does best' Sunday Times

Virago

A Note In Music

Rosamond Lehmann

Grace Fairfax lives with her dull, conventional husband Tom in a grey manufacturing town in the north of England. At thirty-four she finds that her external life of dreary routine fails to match up to her lush, wistful and dreamy internal life. Norah, her energetic and chaotic friend, is equally settled in her own marriage to an irritable university professor. Then Hugh Miller and his sister Claire descend upon the quiet town. On all four, the hypnotic charm of these two visitors exerts an enchanting spell. And after their departure, life - having been violently disrupted - will never be quite the same again . . .

Virago

A Sea-Grape Tree

Rosamond Lehmann

In 1933 we meet Rebecca, heroine of THE BALLAD AND THE SOURCE - but in a different world, on many levels. Betrayed by her married lover, Rebecca arrives alone at a small Caribbean island. Here, along with the splendidly eccentric members of the British expatriate colony, she meets the former ace pilot Johnny, crippled now, a misanthropic recluse: for both of them their passionate affair the powerful life force love can be. Here too she encounters voices from the past and the vibrant spirit of Mrs. Jardine - voices which remind Rebecca of the girl she was and the woman she could become.

Virago

The Ballad And The Source

Rosamond Lehmann

The tale of the unlikely friendship between and an old woman and a young girl, this is one of Rosamond Lehmann's finest novels Ten year old Rebecca is living in the country with her family when Sibyl Jardine, an enigmatic and powerful old woman, returns to her property in the neighbourhood. The two families, once linked in the past, meet again, with the result that Rebecca becomes drawn into the strange complications of the old lady's life - with her husband, her errant daughter and her grandchildren. Through the spellbound eyes of the young Rebecca we enter into an intricate and scandalous family history and slowly the story of the passionate, stormy life of Mrs. Jardine unfolds.