By Angela Thirkell
Jack Middleton likes to imagine himself a country squire. At weekends he retires to Laverings Estate with his wife, Catherine. He may be pompous, and they may seem ill-matched, but the couple are devoted to each other.When Jack's widowed sister, Lilian, and her two stepchildren arrive to spend the summer in the neighbouring house, he dreads the intrusion to his idyll: Daphne, capable and ambitious, is too lively for his taste, whereas her brother Denis, a composer, he finds a crashing bore. But their wit and good sense charm the residents of Barchester, and they win over Lord Bond with an impromptu Gilbert and Sullivan evening. Even Jack begins to thaw.Before long, Daphne and Lord Bond's son become attracted to each other, but each believes the other is attached to someone else. Can disaster be averted before she marries the wrong man? First published in 1939, Before Lunch is a sparkling comedy from Angela Thirkell's much-loved classic series.
The Birds And Other Stories
By Daphne Du Maurier
'How long he fought with them in the darkness he could not tell, but at last the beating of the wings about him lessened and then withdrew . . . 'A classic of alienation and horror, 'The Birds' was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man's sense of dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of 'Monte Verità' promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject's life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three's a crowd . . .
By Angela Thirkell
Lavinia Brandon is quite the loveliest widow in Barsetshire, blessed with beauty and grace, as well as two handsome grown-up children, Delia and Francis. So thinks their cousin Hilary Grant when he comes to stay and - like many before him - promptly falls for his fragrant hostess. Meanwhile, the Brandons' ill-tempered dowager aunt is stirring up controversy over her legacy, and Lavinia's attention is further occupied by the challenges of making a match between the vicar and gifted village helpmeet Miss Morris, and elegantly deterring her love-struck suitors. Angela Thirkell's 1930s comedy is bright, witty and winning.
Beyond The Glass
By Antonia White
Clara Batchelor is twenty-two. Her brief, doomed marriage to Archie over, she returns to live with her parents in the home of her childhood. She hopes for comfort but the devoutly Catholic household confines her and forms a dangerous glass wall of guilt and repression between Clara and the outside world. Clara both longs for and fears what lies beyond, and when she escapes into an exhilarating and passionate love affair her fragile identity cracks.Beyond the Glass completes the trilogy sequel to Frost in May, which began with The Lost Traveller and The Sugar House. Although each is a complete novel in itself, together they form a brilliant portrait of a young girl's journey to adulthood.
Blood On The Dining-Room Floor
By Gertrude Stein
Why should blood on the floor make anyone mad against automobiles and telephones and desks. Why. This is what happened. There were dogs in the house but they were no bother. Listen carefully.'In the spring of 1933 Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were living in their country house at Bilignin, France. With money earned from the best-selling 'Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas' they installed electricity, had a telephone put in their house and bought a large car. But with these improvements came trouble. Servants came and went. Finally a man named Jean and his Polish wife were employed. A friend came to stay, but her car was tampered with and the telephone no longer worked. The servants were dismissed. Later that summer in nearby Belley, Madame Pernollet was found sprawled on the courtyard of her husband's hotel. Five days later she was dead. Was it an accident? Suicide? Murder? As Alice B. Toklas said, 'there was no denying one could become accustomed to murdering...'.
By Elizabeth Taylor
Amongst the characters in this collection of short stories are the upright Mrs Allen, who unwittingly provides an alibi for her slackly corseted home help, and Emily, who has written fluent, amusing letters to a distinguished novelist for 10 years but descends into small talk when they meet.
The Birds Fall Down
By Rebecca West
One afternoon, in an early summer of this century, eighteen-year-old Laura Rowan sits on the garden steps of her house embroidering a handkerchief. She overhears a conversation between her father, an English Member of Parliament, and her mother, Tania, the daughter of an exiled Russian royalist. Tania's decision to take Laura to Paris to visit her grandfather, Count Nikilai Diakonov, means that Laura will unwittingly become a witness to the momentous events leading up to the Russian Revolution...Through a vivid canvas layered with intrigue, conspiracy and murder, Rebecca West has created a story that is at once a family saga, a political thriller, a philosophical drama and an historical novel.