By Noel Streatfeild
When their father is injured in an accident, life changes for the Johnstone family. Unable to afford their home, they have to move to a small London flat. Carol can no longer go to ballet school and Tim is heartbroken as he must leave his beloved dog, Jelly, behind. Then, it seems, their wishes are granted: in an extraordinary twist of fate, Tim inherits a dilapidated country house, Caldicott Place, where the family - including Jelly - can live together. But the house is badly in need of repair and they have no money, so a solution is found - the family start to look after wealthy children in the school holidays. Although they dread the prospect of sharing their newly found home with rich spoiled children, perhaps friendships can be found in the unlikeliest places.
The Collected Stories of Grace Paley
By Grace Paley
'This is a collection full of energy and stunning, quiet innovation ... it spills over with contempt, raucous humour, sadness and generosity. In it, life and language are synonymous, and there is no higher praise. What a wonderful book' Ali SmithHere are all Grace Paley's classic stories in one volume. Paley's quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language won her readers' hearts and secured her place as one of America's most accomplished short-story writers. Her stories are united by her signature interweaving of personal and political truths, her extraordinary capacity for empathy and her pointed depiction of the small and large events that make up daily life.'A writer like Paley comes along and brightens up language again, takes it aside and gives it a pep talk, sends it back renewed, so it can do its job, which is to wake us up' George Saunders'Grace Paley makes me weep and laugh - and admire. She is that rare kind of writer, a natural, with a voice like no one else's: funny, sad, lean, modest, energetic, acute' Susan Sontag'Grace Paley is the most intelligent, generous, incorruptible writer I ever knew' Ursula K. Le Guin
By Rose Macaulay
Denham Dobie has been brought up in Andorra by her father, a retired clergyman. On his death, she is snatched from this reclusive life and thrown into the social whirl of London by her sophisticated relatives. Denham, however, provides a candid response to the niceties of 'civilised' behaviour. CREWE TRAIN is one of Macaulay's wittiest satires. The reactions of Denham to the manners and modes of the highbrow circle in which she finds herself provide a devastating - and very funny - social commentary as well as a moving story.This bitingly funny, elegantly written comedy of manners is as absorbing and entertaining today as on the book's first publication in 1967.
By Nina Bawden, Alan Marks
One of the most loved and enduring wartime novels, Carrie's War is a modern classic. WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY MICHAEL MORPURGO AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALAN MARKS'A touching, utterly convincing book' Jacqueline Wilson'Poignant and realistic . . . Carrie's War captures the true reality of war for a child, and it doesn't sentimentalise war' Shirley Hughes, Guardian'I did a dreadful thing, the worst thing of my life, when I was twelve and a half years old, and nothing can change it'It is wartime and Carrie and her little brother Nick have been evacuated from their London home to the Welsh hills. In an unfamiliar place, among strangers, the children feel alone and find little comfort with the family they are billeted with: Mr Evans, a bullying shopkeeper and Auntie Lou, his kind but timid sister. When Carrie and Nick visit Albert, another evacuee, they are welcomed into Hepzibah Green's warm kitchen. Hepzibah is rumoured to be a witch, but her cooking is delicious, her stories are enthralling and the children cannot keep away. With Albert, Hepzibah and Mister Johnny, they begin to settle into their new surroundings. But before long, their loyalties are tested: will they be persuaded to betray their new friends?This collection of the best children's literature, curated by Virago, will be coveted by children and adults alike. These are timeless tales with beautiful covers, that will be treasured and shared across the generations. Some titles you will already know; some will be new to you, but there are stories for everyone to love, whatever your age. Our list includes Nina Bawden (Carrie's War, The Peppermint Pig), Rumer Godden (The Dark Horse, An Episode of Sparrows), Joan Aiken (The Serial Garden, The Gift Giving) E. Nesbit (The Psammead Trilogy, The Bastable Trilogy, The Railway Children), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Little Princess,The Secret Garden) and Susan Coolidge (The What Katy Did Trilogy). Discover Virago Children's Classics.
Cheerfulness Breaks In
By Angela Thirkell
A portrait of middle-class England raising a wartime spirit. England is on the brink of war, but the people of rural Barsetshire are not downhearted. As the village rallies round to supply huge numbers of evacuated cockney children with rabbit stew, the locals are seen in their true colours.
Circling the Sun
By Paula McLain
The New York Times bestsellerAs a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother, the dream quickly turned sour, and she returned home; Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm, then incarcerating her in the classroom. The scourge of governesses and serial absconder from boarding school, by the age of sixteen Beryl had been catapulted into a disastrous marriage - but it was in facing up to this reality that she took charge of her own destiny. Scandalizing high society with her errant behaviour, she left her husband and became the first woman ever to hold a professional racehorse trainer's licence. After falling in with the notoriously hedonistic and gin-soaked Happy Valley set, Beryl soon became embroiled in a complex love triangle with the writer Karen Blixen and big game-hunter Denys Finch Hatton (immortalized in Blixen's memoir Out of Africa). It was this unhappy affair which set tragedy in motion, while awakening Beryl to her truest self, and to her fate: to fly.
The Cry of the Owl
By Patricia Highsmith
Robert Forester, depressed after a painful divorce, begins to spy on Jenny, his pretty young neighbour. Watching her, bright and seemingly carefree, alleviates his loneliness and helps him escape the discontent of his life. Caught in the act, he is surprised when Jenny invites him in, but all is not what it seems. With striking clarity and horrible inevitability, Forester becomes caught up in a series of deaths in which he, although the innocent bystander, is presumed guilty.'The No.1 Greatest Crime Writer' The Times
By Patricia Highsmith
Now a hugely acclaimed, six-times Oscar-nominated film by Todd Haynes, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.Therese is just an ordinary sales assistant working in a New York department store when an alluring woman in her thirties walks up to her counter. Standing there, Therese is wholly unprepared for the first shock of love. She is an awkward nineteen-year-old with a job she hates and a boyfriend she doesn't love; Carol is a sophisticated, bored suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce and a custody battle for her only daughter. As Therese becomes irresistibly drawn into Carol's world, she soon realises how much they both stand to lose . . .First published pseudonymously in 1952 as The Price of Salt, Carol is a hauntingly atmospheric love story set against the backdrop of fifties New York.
By Sarah Churchwell
Since its publication in 1925, The Great Gatsby has become one of the world's best-loved books. Careless People tells the true story behind F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, exploring in newly rich detail its relation to the extravagant, scandalous, and chaotic world in which the author lived.With wit and insight, Sarah Churchwell traces the genesis of a masterpiece, mapping where fiction comes from, and how it takes shape in the mind of a genius. Careless People tells the extraordinary tale of how F. Scott Fitzgerald created a classic and in the process discovered modern America.
Christmas at High Rising
By Angela Thirkell
Originally published in the 1930s and 1940s and never before collected, these stories by the incomparable Angela Thirkell relate merry scenes of a trip to the pantomime, escapades on ice, a Christmas Day gone awry, and an electrifying afternoon for Laura Morland and friends at Low Rising, not to mention the chatter of the arty set at a London private view. Charming, irreverent and full of mischievous humour, they offer the utmost entertainment in any season of the year.
By Mary Renault
'The Charioteer remains compelling both as a snapshot of a particular - and particularly fascinating - cultural moment, and as a deeply romantic story of love fulfilled against the odds. It has all those qualities that make Mary Renault so memorable as a novelist: craft, subtlety, intelligence, and a terrific natural sympathy with the intricacies of honour and desire' SARAH WATERS'An explosive and courageous book' SIMON RUSSELL BEALEFirst published in 1953, The Charioteer is a tender, intelligent coming-of-age novel and a bold, unapologetic portrayal of homosexuality that stands with Gore Vidal's The City and the Pillar and James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room as a landmark work in gay literature.Injured at Dunkirk, Laurie Odell, a young corporal, is recovering at a rural veterans' hospital. There he meets Andrew, a conscientious objector serving as an orderly, and the men find solace in their covert friendship. Then Ralph Lanyon appears, a mentor from Laurie's schooldays. Through him, Laurie is drawn into a tight-knit circle of gay men for whom liaisons are fleeting and he is forced to choose between the ideals of a perfect friendship and the pleasures of experience.'Emotionally intelligent, beautifully written and deeply moving, it transcends categorisations' Telegraph
The Complete Collected Poems
By Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou's poetry - lyrical and dramatic, exuberant and playful - speaks of love, longings, partings; of Saturday night partying and the smells and sounds of Southern cities; of freedom and shattered dreams. Of her poetry, Kirkus Reviews has written, 'It is just as much a part of her autobiography as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, and The Heart of a Woman'.
By Rumer Godden
Tracy Quinn, daughter of a screen star and raised on film sets around the world, returns to her adored family home, a country house named China Court. Her grandmother's recent death has set in motion events that threaten Tracy's future and the very existence of China Court. As Tracy fights to save the old house, inhabited by five generations of Quinns, the ancestors who created it are evoked: profligate, faithless Jared; Eliza, the embittered spinster; and Ripsie, an outcast orphan who rose to become the powerful matriarch.
Cromartie vs The God Shiva
By Rumer Godden
A revered effigy of the god Shiva is missing from the Patna Hall Hotel on south India's exquisite Coromandel coast. Was it stolen, and to whom does it belong? Young lawyer Michael Dean, sent from London to argue the case for the defence, falls under the spell of Artemis, a graceful archaeologist who is staying at the hotel; but she proves as elusive as the mystery of the theft he is working on. Rumer Godden's classic novel is a magical, evocative exploration of art, love, class and greed in her beloved India.
By Barbara Pym
Formidable Miss Doggett fills her life by giving tea parties to young academics and acting as watchdog of the morals of North Oxford. Anthea, her great-niece, is in love with a dashing upper-class undergraduate with political ambitions. Of this, Miss Doggett thoroughly approves. Anthea's father, however, an Oxford don, is tired of his marriage and carrying on in the most unseemly fashion with his student Barbara Bird - they have been spotted together at the British Museum! Miss Doggett isn't aware, though, that under her very own roof the lodging curate has proposed to her paid companion Miss Morrow. She wouldn't approve of that at all.
By Vita Sackville-West
CHALLENGE was Vita Sackville-West's second novel. It was ready to go to print in 1920, but the aughor suddenly changed her mind. This was not because she lacked confidence in her work,but because of the scandal it would have caused. CHALLENGE remained unpublished for over fifty years.Vita's love affair with Violet Trefusis had reached its peak, and, eloping to France, they decided to abandon everything and everyone - children and husbands included - to spend the rest of their lives together. Although they returned to their families eventually, CHALLENGE remains a testament of their love, and was written during that period. The hero, Julian, might be a Byronic young Englishman, and Eve the woman he adores; it may be an adventure tale about a revolt on a Greek island. But really, this is a love story, written in the presence of the beloved, and inspired by her. And, as its title implies, the novel is a challenge to the society that condemned Vita and her lover.
Complete Short Stories
By Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: one of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth - Sarah WatersElizabeth Taylor, highly acclaimed author of classic novels such as Angel, A Game of Hide and Seek and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, is also renowned for her powerful, acutely observed stories. Here for the first time, the stories - including some only recently rediscovered - are collected in one volume. From the awkward passions of lonely holiday-makers to the anticipation of three school friends preparing for their first dance, from the minor jealousies and triumphs of marriage to tales of outsiders struggling to adapt to the genteel English countryside, with a delicate, witty touch Elizabeth Taylor illuminates the nuances of ordinary lives.Books included in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor; and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
By Jane Miller
Ever since I have inhabited old age, I have looked and listened, mostly in vain, for news of what it is like for others who inhabit it too. Naturally, I'm interested in its well-known depredations, the physical and mental ones that people in their forties and fifties so publicly dread. And who would not delight in the theatrical props of old age - the pills and sticks, the shrieking hearing aids and the tricks for countering the loss of names and threads and glasses. But that's not all. I have a fond hope that in old age there may be new kinds of time and of pleasure, perhaps even new kinds of vitality, and that, though we forget and muddle and fail to hear things, there may be moments when we truly understand what's going on for the first time. But then I've always been a late developer.'Deeply thoughtful, wry and resilient, this fascinating and absorbing book about growing older is a life-enhancing look at what all of us - if we are lucky - can aspire to.
Child Of The Jungle
By Sabine Kuegler
In 1980 seven-year-old Sabine Kuegler and her family went to live in a remote jungle area of West Papua among the recently discovered Fayu - a tribe untouched by modern civilisation. Her childhood was spent hunting, shooting poisonous spiders with arrows and chewing on pieces of bat-wing in place of gum. She also learns how brutal nature can be - and sees the effect of war and hatred on tribal peoples. After the death of her Fayu-brother, Ohri, Sabine decides to leave the jungle and, aged seventeen, she goes to a boarding school in Switzerland - a traumatic change for a girl who acts and feels like one of the Fayu. 'Fear is something I learnt here' she says. 'In the Lost Valley, with a lost tribe, I was happy. In the rest of the world it was I who was lost.'Here is Sabine Kuegler's remarkable true story of a childhood lived out in the Indonesian jungle, and the struggle to conform to European society that followed.
The Corner That Held Them
By Sylvia Townsend Warner
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.