House of Glass
By Susan Fletcher
June 1914 and a young woman - Clara Waterfield - is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Her task: to fill a greenhouse with exotic plants from Kew Gardens, to create a private paradise for the owner of Shadowbrook. Yet, on arrival, Clara hears rumours: something is wrong with this quiet, wisteria-covered house. Its gardens are filled with foxgloves, hydrangea and roses; it has lily-ponds, a croquet lawn - and the marvellous new glasshouse awaits her. But the house itself feels unloved. Its rooms are shuttered, or empty. The owner is mostly absent; the housekeeper and maids seem afraid. And soon, Clara understands their fear: for something - or someone - is walking through the house at night. In the height of summer, she finds herself drawn deeper into Shadowbrook's dark interior - and into the secrets that violently haunt this house. Nothing - not even the men who claim they wish to help her - is quite what it seems.Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier, this is a wonderful, atmospheric Gothic page-turner.
By Nora Ephron
'I have bought more copies of this book to give to people, in a frenzy of enthusiasm, than any other . . . Heartburn is the perfect, bittersweet, sobbingly funny, all-too-true confessional novel' Nigella Lawson Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel discovers that her husband is in love with another woman. The fact that this woman has a 'neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb' is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel is a cookery writer, and between trying to win Mark back and wishing him dead, she offers us some of her favourite recipes. Heartburn is a roller coaster of love, betrayal, loss and - most satisfyingly - revenge.This is Nora Ephron's (screenwriter of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle) roman a clef: 'I always thought during the pain of the marriage that one day it would make a funny book,' she once said - And it is!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 Hidden Room
By Stella Duffy
What secrets is she keeping in the hidden room...?Life is good for Laurie and Martha. They have a beautiful home in the fens, three great kids. Laurie's career as an architect has suddenly taken off. But when a stranger arrives in town, things begin to go wrong. Martha feels resentful of Laurie's success. Teenage daughter Hope becomes withdrawn and obsessive. And Laurie can do nothing. Because this isn't a stranger. She knows this man all too well - and what he's capable of. He's come back for her. And if she tells anyone the truth - she will lose everything.
By Angela Thirkell
Barsetshire in the latter years of the Second World War is a peaceful and gossipy place, but there has been one lively change. A girls' school, evacuated from London, has taken over Harefield Park. Miss Sparling seems to be the perfect headmistress: she dresses as a headmistress should and is an easy and erudite conversationalist. Her new neighbours like her and her pupils respect her, but there is something missing from her life; something which - though she never dreamt it when she arrived - perhaps Barsetshire can provide...
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
By Carrie Brownstein
Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one of the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as "America's best rock band" by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era's flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one's true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.
The Heart Goes Last
By Margaret Atwood
By the author of The Handmaid's Tale and Alias GraceStan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. Living in their car, surviving on tips from Charmaine's job at a dive bar, they're increasingly vulnerable to roving gangs and in a rather desperate state. So when they see an advertisement for the Positron Project in the town of Consilience - a 'social experiment' offering stable jobs and a home of their own - they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for this suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month, swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But slowly, unknown to the other, Stan and Charmaine develop a passionate obsession with their counterparts, the couple that occupy their home when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire take over, and Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.
Hand to Mouth
By Linda Tirado
Linda Tirado knows from experience what it is to be poor, to struggle to make ends meet. She has worked all hours as a food service worker in a chain restaurant to support her young family. She knows what it's like to have problems you wish you could fix, but no money, energy or resources to fix them, and no hope of getting any.In 2013, an essay on the everyday realities of poverty that Tirado wrote and posted online was read and shared around the world. In Hand to Mouth, she gives a searing, witty and clear-eyed insider account of being poor in the world's richest nation. She looks at how ordinary people fall or are born into the poverty trap, explains why the poor don't always behave in the way the middle classes think they should, and makes an urgent call for us all to understand and meet the challenges they face.
Her Brilliant Career
By Rachel Cooke
In her apron and rubber gloves, a smile lipsticked permanently across her face, the woman of the Fifties has become a cultural symbol of all that we are most grateful to have sloughed off. A homely compliant creature, she knows little or nothing of sex, and stands no chance at all of having a career. She must marry or die. But what if there was another side to the story?In this book Rachel Cooke tells the story of ten extraordinary women whose pioneering professional lives - and complicated private lives - paved the way for future generations. Muriel Box, film director. Betty Box, film producer. Margery Fish, plantswoman. Patience Gray, cook. Alison Smithson, architect. Sheila van Damm, rally car driver and theatre owner. Nancy Spain, journalist and radio personality. Joan Werner Laurie, editor. Jacquetta Hawkes, archaeologist. Rose Heilbron, QC.Plucky and ambitious, they left the house, discovered the bliss of work, and ushered in the era of the working woman.
The Haunting Of Sylvia Plath
By Jacqueline Rose
Since her suicide in 1963 at the age of 30, Sylvia Plath has become a strange icon. This book addresses why this is the case and what this tells us about the way culture picks out important writers. The author argues that without a concept of fantasy we can understand neither Plath's work nor what she has come to represent. She proposes that no writer demonstrates more forcefully than Plath the importance of inner psychic life for the wider sexual and political world. By the author of Sexuality in the Field of Vision.
By Beryl Bainbridge
A girl returns from boarding school to her sleepy Merseyside hometown and waits to be reunited with her childhood friend, Harriet, chief architect of all their past mischief. She roams listlessly along the shoreline and the woods still pitted with wartime trenches, and encounters 'the Tsar' - almost old, unhappily married, both dangerously fascinating and repulsive.Pretty, malevolent Harriet finally arrives - and over the course of the long holidays draws her friend into a scheme to beguile then humiliate the Tsar, with disastrous, shocking consequences. A gripping portrayal of adolescent transgression, Beryl Bainbridge's classic first novel remains as subversive today as when it was written.
By 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.
By Lyndall Gordon
James's friendship with Constance Fenimore Woolson ended in 1894 when he tried to drown a boatload of her dresses in the Venetian lagoon; she had fallen to her death three months before. It was an elusive friendship that echoed his mysterious relationship with Minny Temple who had died twenty years earlier. From their graves, these two women haunted his imagination and his fiction, inspiring the creation of his heroines.
Half The Sky
By Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team, husband and wife Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, take us on a journey through Africa and Asia to meet an extraordinary array of exceptional women struggling against terrible circumstances. More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they are girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century combined. More girls are killed in this routine 'gendercide' in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century. In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth, it was totalitarianism. In the twenty-first, Kristof and WuDunn demonstrate, it will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world. Fierce, moral, pragmatic, full of amazing stories of courage and inspiration, HALF THE SKY is essential reading for every global citizen.
By Marilynne Robinson
Hundreds of thousands of readers were enthralled and delighted by the luminous, tender voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.Now comes HOME, a deeply affecting novel that takes place in the same period and same Iowa town of Gilead. This is Jack's story. Jack - prodigal son of the Boughton family, godson and namesake of John Ames, gone twenty years - has come home looking for refuge and to try to make peace with a past littered with trouble and pain. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold down a job, Jack is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. His sister Glory has also returned to Gilead, fleeing her own mistakes, to care for their dying father. Brilliant, loveable, wayward, Jack forges an intense new bond with Glory and engages painfully with his father and his father's old friend John Ames.
The Heart Of A Woman
By Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. The fourth volume of her enthralling autobiography finds Maya Angelou immersed in the world of black writers and artists in Harlem, working in the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King.'She has a great capacity for love, to give, and receive it' Margaret Busby
The Harsh Voice
By Rebecca West
In these four brilliant short novels set in America, England and Paris, Rebecca West explores the lives and relationships of rich women and men who are ruled by 'the harsh voice we hear when money talks, or hate'.There is Josie, a flower of American girlhood whose boundless ambition for wealth fatally loosens the bonds of her marriage to Corrie. There is Etienne de Sevenac, a dilettante French aristocrat whose courtly stratagems are no match for Nancy Sarle - a plain but powerful American businesswoman. There is Alice Pemberton, a sensible Englishwoman - the very salt of the earth - but a petty tyrant in her gracious Georgian home. And lastly there is Sam Hartley, an American businessman who has fought his way to riches with his wife at his side, but whose life is now haunted by an abiding vision of beautiful young women.
By Stevie Smith
Celia works at the Ministry in the post-war England of 1949 and lives in a London suburb with her beloved Aunt. Witty, fragile, quixotic, Celia is preoccupied with love -- for her friends, her colleagues, her relations, and especially for her adored cousin Casmilus, with whom she goes on holiday to visit Uncle Heber, the vicar. Here they talk endlessly, argue, eat, tell stories, love and hate -- moments of wild humour alternating with waves of melancholy as Celia ponders obsessively on the inevitable pain of love. In everything she wrote, Stevie Smith's poetic, special eye captured the paradox of pain in all human affections -- nowhere more so than in this wry, strongly autobiographical tale.
By Rebecca West
Of all the women he had ever known she was the most ethereal. Loving her was like swathing oneself with a long scarf of spirit.'Harriet Hume, musical, mystical and whimsical, is the very essence of femininity- both princess and trollop. Her beautiful room in a dilapidated Kensington House is the setting for this love story, she herself an extension of the beauty which surrounds her. Here amidst trees and lilacs, Arnold Condorex comes to be loved. And love him Harriet does, beyond reason. But Condorex is a man bent on power and Harriet is a woman with powers of quite another kind. In ruthlessly pursuing his ambition, Harriet- his better self- must be cast aside...How Harriet slowly triumphs over Condorex is gradually revealed in this beautifully imagined fantasy, HARRIET HUME, Rebecca West's third novel, recounts the victory of love and the love of beauty over man's eternal quest for dominance and destruction. Written in a style as elegaic as the London it also celebrates, Rebecca West's wisdom, imagination and wit are triumphantly brought together in this, her third novel.
By Daphne Du Maurier
I tell you your mine will be in ruins and your home destroyed and your children forgotten . . . but this hill will be standing still to confound you.' So curses Morty Donovan when 'Copper John' Brodrick builds his mine at Hungry Hill. The Brodricks of Clonmere gain great wealth by harnessing the power of Hungry Hill and extracting the treasure it holds. The Donovans, the original owners of Clonmere Castle, resent the Brodricks' success, and consider the great house and its surrounding land theirs by rights. For generations the feud between the families has simmered, always threatening to break into violence . . .
The Hound And The Falcon
By Antonia White
Contains the letters between Antonia White - a lapsed Catholic - and a former Jesuit novice. Although Antonia White returned to Church, these letters record the conflicts which preceded and followed this reconversion. They also chart the unfolding of an intimate relationship between them.