Dancing On the Outskirts
By Shena Mackay
Here is a wonderful collection of short stories by the writer known for 'the Mackay vision, suburban - as kitsch, as unexceptional, and yet as rich in history and wonder as a plain Victorian terrace house, its threshold radiant with tiling and stained-glass birds of paradise encased in leaded lights' - Guardian.Shena Mackay, who first came to fame before the age of twenty with two novellas, is the doyenne of the short form. In this volume of previously uncollected stories - including those read on radio - she constantly surprises with a view of the ordinary world that is not at all ordinary.A grasshopper determinedly takes up residence on a bathroom ceiling; a gecko hiding in a cupboard brings a strange sort of luck; a woman spies from a distance two older women friends after many long years and a memory of how they gallopedin the playground as Starlight Blaze and Pepperpot plays sweetly, suddenly in her mind; pigs are swaddled in blankets, looking like babies in shawls; luggage is packed with youthful hopes and ideals.She observes how people rub along and reveals the best and worst of us all: a disgruntled schoolboy and his hapless teacher conquer mountains and their antipathy for each other; a girl with green eyes and iridescent hair discovers revenge; a race to be the best mushroom-picker creates only losers; and rotten apples, in the right pair of hands, make a loving pie. Shena Mackay is a generous and keen-eyed chronicler of the everyday; she deftly brings wisdom and humour to the worlds she creates, worlds that we suddenly, excitingly see anew. She is an utterly original writer.
By Patricia Highsmith
'If I really don't like somebody, I kill him . . . You remember Malcolm McRae, don't you?'Melinda Van Allen is beautiful, headstrong and sexy. Unfortunately for Vic Van Allen, she is his wife. Their love has soured, and Melinda takes pleasure in flaunting her many affairs to her husband. When one of her lovers is murdered, Vic hints to her latest conquest that he was responsible. As rumours spread about Vic's vicious streak, fiction and reality start to converge. It's only a matter of time before Vic really does have blood on his hands.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
The Dud Avocado
By Elaine Dundy
'One of the funniest books I've ever read' - Gore Vidal*The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status on first publication and remains a timeless portrait of a woman hellbent on living. It is, as the Guardian observes, 'one of the best novels about growing up fast'.Sally Jay Gorce is a woman with a mission. It's the 1950s, she's young, and she's in Paris. Having dyed her hair pink, she wears evening dresses in the daytime and vows to go native in a way not even the natives can manage. Embarking on an educational programme that includes an affair with a married man (which fizzles out when she realises he's single and wants to marry her); nights in cabarets and jazz clubs in the company of assorted "citizens of the world"; an entanglement with a charming psychopath; and a bit part in a film financed by a famous matador. But an education like this doesn't come cheap. Will our heroine be forced back to the States to fulfill her destiny as a librarian, or can she keep up her whirlwind Parisian existence?*A champagne cocktail ... Rich, invigorating, and deceptively simple to the taste ... One falls for Sally Jay Gorce from a great height from the first sentence - ObserverAs delightful and delicate an examination of how it is to be twenty and in love and in Paris as I've ever read - Sunday TimesI had to tell someone how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream, and guffaw (which, incidentally, is a great name for a law firm). - Groucho MarxBooks 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; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor; and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
By iO Tillett Wright
I WAS BORN, SEPTEMBER 1985, IN THE VORTEX OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE OF NEW YORK: THERE WERE FEW RULES OF LIFE AND ZERO CONTRAINTS ON BEHAVIOUR. IF YOU WERE NOT ECCENTRIC, YOU WERE WEIRD.It was a tenement building at the centre of the drug-addled, punk-edged, permanent riot that was iO's corner of the Lower East Side of New York City in the '80s and 90's. There iO grew up - or rather scrabbled up - under the broken wing of a fiercely protective, yet wildly negligent mother.Rhonna was a showgirl, actress, dancer, poet. A widow by police murder, she was also an addict. She doted and obsessed over iO, yet lacked an understanding that a child needs food and sleep and safety.Unfolding in animated, crystalline prose, an emotionally raw, devastatingly powerful memoir of one young person's extraordinary coming of age - a tale of gender and identity, freedom and addiction, rebellion and survival in the 1980s and 1990s, when punk poverty, heroin and art collided in the urban bohemia of New York's Lower East Side.Darling Days is also a provocative examination of culture and identity, of the instincts that shape us and the norms that deform us, and of the courage and resilience of a child listening closely to their deepest self. When a group of boys refuse to let the six-year-old play ball, iO instantly adopts a new persona, becoming a boy named Ricky, a choice the parents support and celebrate. It is the start of a profound exploration of gender and identity through the tenderest years, and the beginning of a life invented and reinvented at every step.Alternating between the harrowing and the hilarious, Darling Days is the candid, tough, and stirring memoir of a young person in search of an authentic self as family and home life devolve into chaos until iO escapes to Germany and then England to become an amazingly talented, exciting, edgy artist and wonderful writer.
Dr Clock's Last Case
By Ruth Fainlight
A collection of short stories from the author of "Twenty One Poems" and "Three Poems".A. S. Byatt's comment that Ruth Fainlight's poems 'combine Alice Munro's virtues with something more archaic and also, in exact clear words, give us a truly new vision of usual and mysterious events' can be applied with equal force to this collection of stories. Acutely precise and elegant, they move from vivid evocations of an American childhood and close studies of amoral expatriate life to erotic humour and black fantasy. The breakdown of a middle-aged man when the ghost of his mother, who perished in the Holocaust, returns to haunt him; the unexplained midnight arrival of three likely terrorists at the comfortable English village house of a university professor; a woman's half-reluctant marriage to her daughter's fiance: all these stories demonstrate Ruth Fainlight's uncompromising subtlety of style, and the range of her sympathies and imagination.
The Dark Circle
By Linda Grant
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction'Extraordinarily affecting' Alex Preston, Observer'This is a novel whose engine is flesh and blood, not cold ideas . . . Grant brings the 1950s - that odd, downbeat, fertile decade between war and sexual liberation - into sharp, bright, heartbreaking focus' - Christobel Kent GuardianAll over Britain life is beginning again now the war is over but for Lenny and Miriam, East End London teenage twins who have been living on the edge of the law, life is suspended - they've contacted tuberculosis. It's away to the sanatorium - newly opened by the NHS - in deepest Kent for them where they will meet a very different world: among other patients, an aristocract, a young university grad, a mysterious German woman and an American merchant seaman with big ideas about love and rebellion. They are not the only ones whose lives will be changed forever. 'Grant is so good at conjuring up atmosphere and writes with earthy vivacity'- Anthony Gardner Mail on Sunday'Read this fine, persuasive, moving novel and contemplate' John Sutherland, The Times
By Shena Mackay
New Zealand, 1909. After weeks at sea the new minister, Jack Mackenzie, arrives from Scotland with his unhappy wife and children in tow. A keen naturalist, he is more enthralled by the botanical - and carnal - delights of Dunedin than in the wellbeing of his flock. In London, eighty years later, Jack Mackenzie's descendants are middle-aged, searching for a way out of their loneliness. Olive, embittered with her loveless life, steals a baby from a crowded tube; William, distraught at the death of a pupil, abandons his job as headmaster and struggles to fill his empty days. Jay Pascal, a young New Zealand vagrant of mysterious parentage arrives in London, looking for a place where he might belong.
A Dog's Ransom
By Patricia Highsmith
'Highsmith is a giant of the genre. The original, the best, the gloriously twisted Queen of Suspense' Mark Billingham'Dear Sir, I suppose you are pretty pleased with yourself? Superior to everyone, you think. A fancy apartment and a snob dog. You are a disgusting little machine, nothing else. Your days are numbered.'Ed Reynolds, an editor at a prestigious publishing house, has received a number of anonymous poison pen letters. He has no idea who could bear him such a grudge. Returning home one night, he finds a ransom note for his wife's beloved French poodle: 'I have your dog Lisa. She is well and happy . . . I gather the dog is important to you? We'll see!' The criminal has hit the Manhattan couple where it hurts most. And so, with this bizarre event, their nightmare begins. A Dog's Ransom captures the fragility of middle-class life in this riveting, scathing tale.
Dreams of Dead Women's Handbags
By Shena Mackay
In stories as intriguing as their titles - 'Pink Cigarettes', 'Electric Blue Damsels', 'Other People's Bathrobes' - Shena Mackay demonstrates her uncanny ability to expose the menace of everyday life with humour and haunting accuracy. Harnessing Mackay's darkly comic vision, an astonishing originality and vibrant prose, these remarkable short works provide 'novel-worthy dimensions in a few pages' (New York Times Book Review).
Don't Look Now And Other Stories
By Daphne Du Maurier
John and Laura have come to Venice to try and escape the pain of their young daughter's death. But when they encounter two old women who claim to have second sight, they find that instead of laying their ghosts to rest they become caught up in a train of increasingly strange and violent events.The four other haunting, evocative stories in this volume also explore deep fears and longings, secrets and desires: a lonely teacher who investigates a mysterious American couple, a young woman confronting her father's past, a party of pilgrims who meet disaster in Jerusalem and a scientist who harnesses the power of the mind to chilling effect.
Daughter Of The Queen Of Sheba
By Jacki Lyden
''I am the Queen of Sheba, my mother announced to me in a regal voice''. She was wrapped in toga of bedsheets, with eye-pencil hieroglyphics drawn on her bare arms, a tiara on her head. I was twelve years old.' When she was well, Jacki Lyden's mother was a pretty but powerless suburban 60s housewife, very much under the thumb of a cruel doctor husband (Jacki's stepfather), but when she was gripped by the illness (later diagnosed as manic-depression) she got revenge for all the disappointments in her life. She became, among others, Marie Antoniette, dressed in Victorian bustiers, spent money she didn't have on fabulous cars and presents, painted slogans on the furniture and murals on the walls, went places she wouldn't normally have dared and - became someone she wanted to be. She frightened her three girls, but her bids for power fascinated and inspired them too. If Jacki's mother could escape to exotic places, so would she. In her 20s Jacki set out on her own impassioned journeys - she became a radio journalist, fearlessly reporting from war zones. But always her mother's fantasies remained a frustrating and compelling lure.
By Lyndall Gordon
Lyndall Gordon was born in 1941 in Cape Town, a place from which `a ship takes fourteen days to reach anywhere that matters'. Born to a mother whose mysterious illness confined her for years to life indoors, Lyndall was her secret sharer, a child who grew to know life through books, story-telling and her mother's own writings. It was an exciting, precious world, pure and rich in dreams and imagination - untainted by the demands of reality. But a daughter grows up. Despite her own inability to leave home for long, Lyndall's mother believed in migration, a belief that became almost a necessity once the horrors of apartheid gripped their country. Lyndall loves the rocks, the sea, the light of Cape Town, but, struggling to achieve a life approved by her mother, she tries and makes a failure of living in Israel and then, back once again in her beloved South Africa she marries and moves with her husband to New York. It's in America in 1968 when suddenly Lyndall realises she cannot be, and does not want to be, the woman, the daughter and the mother her mother wants her to be. This is a wonderfully layered memoir about the expectations of love and duty between mother and daughter. The particular time and place, the people and the situation are Lyndall's, but the division between generations, the pain and the joy of being a daughter are everywoman's.
The Dark Horse
By Rumer Godden
'All horses can walk - some badly, some well, but to a few is given a gift of movement feline in its grace, a slouching, flowing continuous movement that is a joy to watch. Dark Invader strode in glorious rhythm, his great shoulders rolling, muscles rippling along his flanks under the satin skin.'Dark Invader is a beautifully bred racehorse, but after a disappointing first season he is sold in disgrace and shipped from England to Calcutta. With love and gentle handling 'Darkie' wins the hearts of the people and becomes the firm favourite for India's most famous race, the Viceroy Cup. But three days before the race Dark Invader disappears. Can he be found before it is too late?
Daphne du Maurier Omnibus 4
By Daphne Du Maurier
Includes Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier's best-known and bestselling novel, is the classic tale of a young woman who marries handsome widower Maxim de Winter and moves to his great house at Manderley in Cornwall, only to find that all is not as it first seems . . . In My Cousin Rachel, Philip Ashley, an orphan raised by his benevolent cousin Ambrose, is drawn into the orbit of Ambrose's beautiful, mysterious new wife Rachel.
Daphne du Maurier Omnibus 3
By Daphne Du Maurier
Includes Jamaica Inn, The Flight of the Falcon, The King's General, The Glass Blowers, Mary Anne, and The Breaking Point & Other Stories.Jamaica Inn weaves a tale of mystery at the eponymous inn on Cornwall's bleak moorlands. The Flight of the Falcon is set in the Italian town of Ruffano: in the 20th century the town has nearly forgotten its violent history, but is it still stained by its dark past? Set in the 17th century at Menabilly in Cornwall, The King's General is the story of a country and a family riven by war. The French Revolution is the backdrop to The Glass Blowers, a tale of family tragedy. Mary Anne is a vivid portrait of one woman's ambition as she rises from ordinary beginnings to become an influential royal mistress to the Duke of York.
Daphne du Maurier Omnibus 2
By Daphne Du Maurier
Includes The House on the Strand, Julius, The Loving Spirit and The Doll: Short Stories.Written in the tradition of Poe and Lovecraft, The House on the Strand is a gripping, time-travelling horror tale. The eponymous hero of Julius is a quick-witted urchin caught up in the Franco-Prussian war, who is soon on his way to seek a fortune in London. The Loving Spirit, Daphne du Maurier's first published novel, is the history of the lives, loves and hardships of a Cornish family at the turn of the twentieth century. This omnibus also includes The Doll, a collection of some of du Maurier's most thrilling short stories.
Daphne du Maurier Omnibus 1
By Daphne Du Maurier
Includes the novels Frenchman's Creek and Hungry Hill, and the story collection The Birds & Other Stories.Frenchman's Creek tells the story of Lady Dona St Columb's escape from the Restoration Court in search of love and adventure at Navron in Cornwall. Hungry Hill is a powerful tale of the feud between two great families, the Donovans and the Brodricks. Daphne du Maurier's short story 'The Birds' was the basis for the classic Hitchcock film.
By Josephine Hart
Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.'Damage, Josephine Hart's debut novel, an international bestseller, filmed with Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche, now takes its proper place as a Virago Modern Classic. Here is one of the most chilling explorations of physical passion and dark, obsessive love ever written.'A remarkable first novel of awesome accomplishment and quite startling psychological insight' Ruth Rendell
The Doll: Short Stories
By Daphne Du Maurier
'I want to know if men realise when they are insane. Sometimes I think that my brain cannot hold together, it is filled with too much horror - too much despair . . . I cannot sleep, I cannot close my eyes without seeing his damned face. If only it had been a dream.'In 'The Doll', a waterlogged notebook is washed ashore. Its pages tell a dark story of obsession and jealousy. But the fate of its narrator is a mystery.Most of the stories in this haunting collection were written early in Daphne du Maurier's career - when she was still in her early twenties - yet they display her mastery of atmosphere, tension and intrigue and reveal a cynicism far beyond her years.
Desert Of The Heart
By Jane Rule
Set in the late 1950s, this is the story of Evelyn Hall, an English Professor, who goes to Reno to obtain a divorce and put an end to her disastrous 16-year marriage. While staying at a boarding house to establish her six-week residency requirement she meets Ann Childs, a casino worker and fifteen years her junior. Physically, they are remarkably alike and eventually have an affair and begin the struggle to figure out just how a relationship between two women can last.Desert of the Heart examines the conflict between convention and freedom and the ways in which the characters try to resolve the conflict