Muriel Spark - The Comforters - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9781844085538
    • Publication date:06 Aug 2009
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The Comforters

By Muriel Spark

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Muriel Spark's stunning debut novel

'The greatest Scottish novelist of modern times.' Ian Rankin

In this first novel by Muriel Spark - author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - the only things that aren't ambiguous are Spark's matchless originality and glittering wit.

With an introduction by Ali Smith.

Caroline Rose is plagued by the tapping of typewriter keys and the strange, detached narration of her every thought and action. She has an unusual problem - she realises she is in a novel. Her fellow characters are also possibly deluded: Laurence, her former lover, finds diamonds in a loaf of bread - could his elderly grandmother really be a smuggler? And Baron Stock, her bookseller friend, believes he is on the trail of England's leading Satanist.

'A master of malice and mayhem.' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

'Brilliantly original and fascinating.' Evelyn Waugh

'A light, clever, mirthful tour de force ... It disrupts and charms its readers with its combination of wit, precision, intelligence and hilarity. As vibrant as ever, more than fifty years after its first appearance.' Ali Smith

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.

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  • ISBN: 9781405530460
  • Publication date: 09 May 2013
  • Page count:
  • Imprint: Virago
That this light, clever, mirthful tour de force was a first novel is astounding. It ends with its own genesis, neatly, like a good joke. As vibrant as ever, more than 50 years after its first appearance, it still knocks the stuffing out of the realist tradition, and probably always will — Ali Smith
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
Abacus

Rope

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton
Virago

Corregidora

Gayl Jones
Authors:
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 BALDWINUpon publication in 1975, Corregidora was hailed as a masterpiece, winning acclaim from writers including James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. 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.After a tragic loss, Ursa, a Kentucky blues singer, confronts her maternal history and the legacy of Corregidora, the Brazilian slave owner who fathered both Ursa's mother and grandmother. Consumed and haunted by her hatred of the man who irrevocably shaped the lives of her family, Ursa must come to terms with a past that is never too distant from the present.Also new to the VMC list: Eva's Man and The Healing, two further searing novels by Gayl Jones.'No novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this' TONI MORRISON

Sphere

Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackeray
Authors:
William Makepeace Thackeray

The classic novel of 'villainy, crime, merriment, lovemaking, jilting, laughing, cheating, fighting and dancing', soon to be a major new ITV series from the producers of Poldark, Victoria and And Then There Were None.William Makepeace Thackeray's witty literary classic Vanity Fair is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, and follows anti-heroine and ruthless social climber Becky Sharp as she attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society. Her story takes her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, breaking heart and fortunes as she goes.ITV's new adaptation of will be one of the biggest drama series of 2018: its script comes from BAFTA-nominated writer Gwyneth Hughes, the series is co-produced by leading production companies Mammoth Screen and Amazon Studios, and Olivia Cooke - star of Steven Spielberg's hit blockbuster Ready Player One - plays Thackeray's timeless heroine Becky Sharp.Read the book before you see the series, then devour it all over again.

Virago

The Seventh Cross

Anna Seghers
Authors:
Anna Seghers

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

The Observing Eye

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

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

Marriage

Susan Ferrier
Authors:
Susan Ferrier

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.

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.

Abacus

Hangover Square

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton
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.

Virago

The Public Image

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

Annabel Christopher is every inch the star: a glamorous actress with a devoted, handsome husband. To keep the paparazzi and her adoring public under her spell, her perfect image must be carefully cultivated, whatever the cost. Beneath the facade, though, her husband cannot bear her or their vapid existence. Envious of her success, he plots his revenge and stages a scandal even Annabel will find a challenge to recover from.

Virago

Territorial Rights

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

Robert wants nothing more than to become a serious art historian. But his hopes for an academic life are put on hold when he's driven from London to Venice to escape one lover and seek out another: the enigmatic Bulgarian refugee Lina Pancev. In Venice, Robert encounters a grand carnival of lust, lies, blackmail, cocktail parties and regicide. As he chases Lina, his heart's desire, the city itself provides a priceless education in love, art and beauty.

Virago

The Mandelbaum Gate

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark
Virago

A Weekend With Claude

Beryl Bainbridge
Authors:
Beryl Bainbridge
Virago

High Rising

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell

Successful lady novelist Laura Morland and her boisterous young son Tony set off to spend Christmas at her country home in the sleepy surrounds of High Rising. But Laura's wealthy friend and neighbour George Knox has taken on a scheming secretary whose designs on marriage to her employer threaten the delicate social fabric of the village. Can clever, practical Laura rescue George from Miss Grey's clutches and, what's more, help his daughter Miss Sibyl Knox to secure her longed-for engagement?Utterly charming and very funny, High Rising is irresistible comic entertainment.

Virago

Wild Strawberries

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell
Sphere

Who Needs Mr Darcy?

Jean Burnett
Authors:
Jean Burnett
Virago

Complete Short Stories

Elizabeth Taylor
Authors:
Elizabeth Taylor