Related to: 'Muriel Spark'

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Writers as Readers

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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.

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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

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Deep Water

Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith

Contains an interview with Gillian Flynn.To everyone around them, Melinda and Vic Van Allen are the perfect couple - young, wealthy and attractive. But when their love sours, their mind games reach a twisted, dangerous climax.'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.

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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.

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Territorial Rights

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

Robert wants nothing more than to become a serious art historian. But his hopes for an academic life are put on hold when he's driven from London to Venice to escape one lover and seek out another: the enigmatic Bulgarian refugee Lina Pancev. In Venice, Robert encounters a grand carnival of lust, lies, blackmail, cocktail parties and regicide. As he chases Lina, his heart's desire, the city itself provides a priceless education in love, art and beauty.

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The Comforters

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark
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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

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The Return Of The Soldier

Rebecca West
Authors:
Rebecca West

The 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.

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Memento Mori

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

Unforgettably astounding and a joy to read, Memento Mori is considered by many to be the greatest novel by the wizardly Dame Muriel Spark. In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: an insinuating voice on the telephone informs each, "Remember you must die." Their geriatric feathers are soon thoroughly ruffled by these seemingly supernatural phone calls, and in the resulting flurry many old secrets are dusted off. Beneath the once decorous surface of their lives, unsavories like blackmail and adultery are now to be glimpsed. As spooky as it is witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.

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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

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Faces In The Water

Janet Frame
Authors:
Janet Frame
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The Magic Toyshop

Angela Carter
Authors:
Angela Carter
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Heartburn

Nora Ephron
Authors:
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!*PraiseI am not a great reader of comic novels, but Ephron's hilarious, recipe-strewn, semi-autobiographical account of a heavily pregnant woman whose husband has left her for a woman with a 'neck as long as an arm' is a treat. A perfect example of Ephron's gift for turning tragedy into comedy, Heartburn is evidence that revenge is indeed a dish best served cold - Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the TrainHeartburn took the most miserable personal situation and made it hysterically funny, inspiring and utterly relatable to women of all ages. I became obsessed with its author and thinly disguised heroine. - Sali Hughes, Stylist'Nora Ephron's first novel is warm, witty and wise.' - Harper's Bazaar

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Loitering With Intent

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark
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

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston
Authors:
Zora Neale Hurston

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.