Related to: 'Muriel Spark'

Virago

The Return Of The Soldier

Rebecca West
Authors:
Rebecca West

'Spellbinding . . . Probably her best fiction' - Sunday TimesThe soldier returns from the front to the three women who love him. His wife, Kitty, with her cold, moonlight beauty, and his devoted cousin Jenny wait in their exquisite home on the crest of the Harrow-weald. Margaret Allington, his first and long-forgotten love, is nearby in the dreary suburb of Wealdstone. But the soldier is shell-shocked and can only remember the Margaret he loved fifteen years before, when he was a young man and she an inn-keeper's daughter. His cousin he remembers only as a childhood playmate; his wife he remembers not at all. The women have a choice - to leave him where he wishes to be, or to 'cure' him. It is Margaret who reveals a love so great that she can make the final sacrifice.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

Virago

Heartburn

Nora Ephron
Authors:
Nora Ephron
Virago

Writers as Readers

Margaret Drabble | Beryl Bainbridge | Angela Carter | Maggie O'Farrell | Elizabeth Jane Howard | A. S. Byatt | Penelope Lively | Sarah Waters | Jonathan Coe | Diana Souhami | Jilly Cooper | Elizabeth Bowen | Mark Bostridge | Alexander McCall Smith | Sarah Dunant | Rachel Cooke | Zadie Smith | Anita Desai | Sophie Dahl | Clare Boylan | Paula McLain | Diana Athill | Marina Lewycka | Claire Messud | Michèle Roberts | Simon Russell Beale | Amanda Craig | Hilary Mantel | Elizabeth Taylor | Ali Smith | Linda Grant | Jane Gardam | Julie Burchill | Carmen Callil | Helen Oyeyemi | Marian Keyes | Nora Ephron | Sandi Toksvig | Kate SaundersWriters as Readers is a celebration of forty years of the Virago Modern Classics list. Started in 1978, Virago Modern Classics is dedicated to the rediscovery and championing of women writers, challenging the often narrow definition of 'classic'. In this collection, forty of the most significant writers of the past century tell us about one of their favourite writers by introducing books from the Virago Modern Classics collection, offering a glimpse at the treasures that have been published over the past four decades: they may be great works of literature; they may be wonderful period pieces; they may reveal particular aspects of women's lives; they may be classics of comedy, storytelling, diary-writing or autobiography.

Virago

The Observing Eye

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

The Observing Eye is a collection of Muriel Spark's brilliant asides, sayings, and aphorisms. No other writer can hold a candle to her wry, puckish observations:'Neurotics are awfully quick to notice other people's mentalities.''It is impossible to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles.''The sacrifice of pleasure is of course itself a pleasure.''Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time in your life it may occur.''Ridicule is the only honourable weapon we have left.'Spark's striking insights are precise and unforgettable - they will make you laugh and nod in agreement, with a wicked smile on your face. Her wise words never fail to hit exactly the right note.

Virago

Owls Do Cry

Janet Frame
Authors:
Janet Frame

Owls Do Cry is the story of the Withers family: Francie, soon to leave school to start work at the woollen mills; Toby, whose days are marred by the velvet cloak of epilepsy; Chicks, the baby of the family; and Daphne, whose rich, poetic imagination condemns her to a life in institutions. 'Janet Frame's first full-length work of fiction, Owls Do Cry, is an exhilarating and dazzling prelude to her long and successful career. She was to write in several modes, publishing poems, short stories, fables and volumes of autobiography, as well as other novels of varied degrees of formal complexity, but Owls Do Cry remains unique in her oeuvre. It has the freshness and fierceness of a mingled cry of joy and pain. Its evocation of childhood recalls Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, as well as the otherworldly Shakespearean lyric of her title and epigraph, but her handling of her dark material is wholly original' Margaret Drabble

Virago

The Magic Toyshop

Angela Carter
Authors:
Angela Carter

This crazy world whirled around her, men and women dwarfed by toys and puppets, where even the birds are mechanical and the few human figures went masked . . . She was in the night once again, and the doll was herself.One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother's wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the home of her childhood, she is sent to live with relatives she has never met: gentle Aunt Margaret, mute since her wedding day; and her brothers, Francie and Finn. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip, who loves only the toys he makes in his workshop: clockwork roses and puppets that are life-size - and uncannily life-like.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

Virago

The Public Image

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

Annabel Christopher is every inch the star: a glamorous actress with a devoted, handsome husband. To keep the paparazzi and her adoring public under her spell, her perfect image must be carefully cultivated, whatever the cost. Beneath the facade, though, her husband cannot bear her or their vapid existence. Envious of her success, he plots his revenge and stages a scandal even Annabel will find a challenge to recover from.

Virago

Territorial Rights

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark
Virago

Deep Water

Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
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

Virago

Memento Mori

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

Remember you must die.Dame Lettie Colston is the first of her circle to receive insinuating anonymous phone calls. Neither she, nor her friends, wish to be reminded of their mortality, and their geriatric feathers are thoroughly ruffled. As the caller's activities become more widespread, old secrets are dusted off, exposing post and present duplicities, self-deception and blackmail. Nobody is above suspicion.Witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.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

Virago

The Comforters

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark
Virago

The Mandelbaum Gate

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

When Barbara Vaughan's fiancé joins an archaeological excursion to the Dead Sea Scrolls, she takes the opportunity to explore the Holy Land. It is 1961, and the nation of Israel is still in its infancy. For Barbara, a half-Jewish Catholic convert, this is a journey of faith, and she ignores warnings not to cross the Mandelbaum Gate from Israel into Jordan. An adventure of espionage and abduction, from pilgrimage to flight, The Mandelbaum Gate is one of Spark's most compelling novels, and won the James Tait Memorial Prize.

Virago

Complete Short Stories

Elizabeth Taylor
Authors:
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

Virago

A Far Cry From Kensington

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

'Mercurially funny, playful and mischievous' Ali Smith'I was in heaven reading this book. I think she writes like an angel . . . just blissful' Stephen FryA novel of 'pure delight' (Claire Tomalin) by the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.When Mrs Hawkins tells Hector Bartlett he 'urinates frightful prose', little does she realise the repercussions. Holding that 'no life can be carried on satisfactorily unless people are honest' Mrs Hawkins refuses to retract her judgement, and as a consequence, loses not one, but two much-sought-after jobs in publishing. Now, years older, successful, and happily a far cry from Kensington, she looks back over the dark days that followed, in which she was embroiled in a mystery involving anonymous letters, quack remedies, blackmail and suicide.With an introduction by Ali Smith.'Wonderfully entertaining.' Sunday Telegraph'An outstanding novel ... A Far Cry From Kensington has an effortless, translucent grasp of the spirit of the period.' Observer

Virago

Faces In The Water

Janet Frame
Authors:
Janet Frame
Virago

Loitering With Intent

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

A funny and clever novel about art and reality and the way they imitate each other, from the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. With an introduction by Mark Lawson.Would-be novelist Fleur Talbot works for the snooty, irascible Sir Quentin Oliver at the Autobiographical Association, whose members are all at work on their memoirs. When her employer gets his hands on Fleur's novel-in-progress, mayhem ensues as its scenes begin coming true... Spark's inimitable style make this literary joyride thoroughly appealing.'The most gloriously entertaining novel since The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.' AN Wilson, Spectator'I read this book in a delirium of delight ... robust and full-bodied, a wise and mature work, and a brilliantly mischievous one.' New York Times Book Review

Virago

Symposium

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

'The greatest Scottish novelist of modern times . . . She was peerless, sparkling, inventive and intelligent - the crème de la crème.' Ian RankinOne October evening five London couples gather for a dinner party, enjoying 'the pheasant (flambe in cognac as it is)' and waiting for the imminent arrival of the late-coming guest Hilda Damien, who has been unavoidably detained due to the fact that she is being murdered at this very moment.With an introduction by Ian Rankin.Symposium is Muriel Spark - one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and author of classics including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - at her wicked best. 'A rich, heady, disturbing brew.' Lorna Sage'Extremely clever and highly entertaining.' Penelope Lively'Stiletto-sharp fiction.' Alan Taylor, Scotland on Sunday

Virago

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston
Authors:
Zora Neale Hurston

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece of prose, as emotionally satisfying as it is impressive. There is no novel I love more' Zadie Smith

Ali Smith

Ali Smith was born in Inverness and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of three collections of stories and three novels. Hotel World was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize in 2001 and her latest novel, The Accidental, won the 2006 Whitbread Novel Award. Ali reviews regularly for the Guardian, the Scotsman and the TLS.

Chapter One

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds

Read the first chapter of the latest book in Alexander McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series. The victim of an important art theft appeals to Isabel Dalhousie, Edinburgh philosopher and sleuth, for help.