By Nina Bawden, Alan Marks
'The hay stirred. There was a small nibbling sound. A furry head poked out. I saw its dark, beady eyes, its sharp, pointed ears ... his eyes seemed alert and inquisitive, as if he were as interested in us as we were in him'Henry is only three inches long when naughty Charlie catapults him out of his nest - a poor baby red squirrel, all ragged and skinny. He is too young to survive being released into the wild, but can a squirrel be a pet?Henry's new human family has also had to adapt to a different way of life. Evacuated from London during the Blitz, to a farm in Wales, they were upturned from their old life just as Henry was 'tipped out' of his nest. Can this mischievous little creature, who makes nests out of their clothes and runs up the children like they are trees, help them to settle into their new life?A collection that will be coveted by children and adults alike, this list is the best in children's literature, curated by Virago. 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), L. M. Montgomery (The Anne of Green Gables series) and Susan Coolidge (The What Katy Did Trilogy). Discover Virago Children's Classics.
The Kingdom and the Cave
By Joan Aiken, Peter Bailey
'The Under People. They live in a huge Cave. They are thought to be boring upwards. Giant worms and flying ants. Underground magic.'Mickle, the palace cat, knows the kingdom is in danger. He can feel it in his whiskers and he has found a mysterious note in the royal library... (Yes, of course he can read, and speak - if he chooses to!) Mickle can't trust the King and Queen with his mission, so he and Prince Michael, with the help of their animal friends (and quite a bit of magic!), set out on a perilous quest to find the sinister Under People, discover their secret power and save the Kingdom of Astalon.In her first novel, written when she was only a teenager, Joan Aiken showcases the imagination, wit and storytelling zest that would lead to classics like Arabel's Raven and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
The King Must Die
By Mary Renault
'Mary Renault's portraits of the ancient world are fierce, complex and eloquent, infused at every turn with her life-long passion for the Classics. Her characters live vividly both in their own time, and in ours' MADELINE MILLER'I never learned Latin or Greek; I wasn't raised on the classics, even in translation. All my sense of the ancient world - its values, its style, the scent of its wars and passions - comes from Mary Renault. Her Theseus novels are perhaps the most exciting of her Greek fictions. I think I turned to writing historical fiction because of something I learned from Renault: that it lets you shake off the mental shackles of your own era, all the categories and labels, and write freely about what really matters to you' EMMA DONOGHUEThe King Must Die retells the story of Theseus, bringing Greek mythology vividly to life. The story is continued in the sequel, The Bull From the Sea.Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery - can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father's sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus's perilous journey to his father's palace to claim his birth right, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story.'Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers. She does not pretend the past is like the present, or that the people of ancient Greece were just like us. She shows us their strangeness; discerning, sure-footed, challenging our values, piquing our curiosity, she leads us through an alien landscape that moves and delights us' Hilary Mantel'There's much to say about her interweaving of myth and history and, just as interestingly, there's much to wonder at in the way she fills in the large dark spaces where we know next to nothing about the times she describes . . . an important and wonderful writer . . . she set a course into serious-minded, psychologically intense historical fiction that today seems more important than ever' - Sam Jordison, Guardian
Kind Are Her Answers
By Mary Renault
Kit Anderson is married to Janet, a beautiful but narcissistic woman who seems more shallow to him as time goes by. Their relationship has become strained and cold. Immersing himself in his work as a doctor, Anderson takes consolation in his career. Then, one night he is called out to a dying patient, and meets Christie, who is taking care of her aunt. Warm and vivacious, Christie stands in stark contrast to Janet, providing the passion and intimacy that has been missing from his life.How long can their affair be kept secret and does Kit want what is best for Christie, or only for himself? In this assured, vivid novel, Mary Renault showcases the talents that would make her one of the twentieth century's most beloved novelists.
Keeping Hope Alive
By Hawa Abdi
For the last twenty years, Dr Hawa Abdi and her daughters have run a refugee camp on their family farm not far from Mogadishu which has grown to shelter 90,000 displaced Somalis: men, women, and children in urgent need of medical attention. As Islamist militia groups have been battling for control of the country creating one of the most dire human rights crises in the world, Dr. Abdi's camp is a beacon of hope for the Somalis, most of whom have no proper access to health care. She was recently held hostage by a militant groups who threatened her life and told her that because she's a woman she has no right to run the camp. She refused to leave.This is not just the story of a woman doctor in a war torn Islamic country risking her life daily to minister to thousands of desperate people, it's also an inspiring story of a divorced woman and her two daughters, bound together on a mission to rehabilitate a country.
Kingfishers Catch Fire
By Rumer Godden
Sophie, an English ingénue with two children, arrives in Himalayan Kashmir to set up home in a tumbledown cottage surrounded by flowers and herbs. Settling down to live quietly, frugally and peacefully with her new neighbours, she is unaware of the turmoil her arrival provokes as the villagers compete fiercely for her patronage. Sophie's cook makes a drastic bid to secure his position, and the unwanted consequences are catastrophic . . .
Keepers Of The House
By Lisa St. Aubin De Teran
Since the eighteenth century the eccentric and flamboyant Beltran family have ruled their desolate Andean valley. Now they are almost extinct. At seventeen, Lydia Sinclair, newly married to Don Diego Beltran, the last of the line, arrives at the vast decaying Hacienda La Bebella. As her husband retreats into himself, Lydia takes refuge in unearthing his ancestors' tragic history. Benito, the family's oldest retainer, relates to her tales of splendour and romance, violence and suffering. From these she weaves a rich gothic tapestry in which the fantastic legends of the past are mingled with the present necessity for survival in a harsh, drought-ridden land.
The Knight Of Cheerful Countenance
By Molly Keane
To Ballinrath House, where purple bog gives way to slate-coloured mountains, comes Allan to visit his Irish cousins. No sooner has he arrived than he falls in love with Cousin Ann, though it seems that she only has eyes for Captain Dennys St Lawrence.
The King's General
By Daphne Du Maurier
Inspired by a grisly discovery in the nineteenth century, The King's General was the first of du Maurier's novels to be written at Menabilly, the model for Manderley in Rebecca.Set in the seventeenth century, it tells the story of a country and a family riven by civil war, and features one of fiction's most original heroines. Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless - and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone.As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, Honor remains true to him, and finally discovers the secret of Menabilly.
By Lisa Alther
Meet Ginny Babcock - the forerunner to BRIDGET JONESIt's the 1950's and 60's in Hullsport, Tennessee and Ginny Babcock is coming of age. Bouncing from one identity to the other, she adopts the values, politics, lifestyles and even sexual orientation of each new partner she finds. In this wise, funny and ultimately heartbreaking story, Lisa Alther explores the limited roles offered to women in this period - from cheerleader to motorcycle moll, bulldyke to madonna - each embodying important truths about the aspirations of the culture that created them.Honest, wise, funny and tragic by turns this is a remarkable novel in a class of its own.