The accomplished Corinthian Sir Richard Wyndham is wealthy, sophisticated, handsome ,and supremely bored. Tired of his aristocratic family constantly pressuring him to get married, he determines to run away after meeting the delightful, unconventional heroine Penelope Creed. Penelope - literally - falls into his life late one night as she hangs from the window of her aunt's house - she too attempting to escape the pressures of forced marriage.
"Fun on the Run"
Early in Mary Tudor's turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.
Vanity Fair, with its rich cast of characters, takes place on the snakes-and-ladders board of life. Amelia Sedley, daughter of a wealthy merchant, has a loving mother to supervise her courtship. Becky Sharp, an orphan, has to use her wit, charm, and resourcefulness to escape from her destiny as a governess. This she does ruthlessly, musing: "I think I could become a good woman, if I had £5,000 a year."
"My favorite novel"
Penelope Devereux arrives at Queen Elizabeth's court, where she and her brother, the earl of Essex, are drawn into the aging queen's favor. Young and naive, Penelope, though promised elsewhere, falls in love with Philip Sidney, who pours his heartbreak into the now classic sonnet series Astrophil and Stella. But Penelope is soon married off to a man who loathes her. Never fainthearted, she chooses her moment and strikes a deal with her husband.
This is the story of Tenzin Palmo, the daughter of a fishmonger from London's East End who became a Tibetan nun. After meditating for 12 years in a cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, she became a world-renowned spiritual leader and champion of the right of women to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
"The fortunes and misfortunes of the famous Moll Flanders, who was born in Newgate, and during a life of continue'd variety for three-score years, besides her childhood, was twelve year a whore, five times a wife (whereof once to her own brother), twelve year a thief, eight year a transported felon in Virginia at last grew rich, liv'd honest, and died a penitent."
Widowed for the second time at age 31, Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal, so haunted by the fates of his previous wives - two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth - Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.
"more history less passion"
'The Praise of Folly', written in Latin in 1509 and spoken by the goddess Folly (who champions a lively enjoyment of life), was a bold satire on (in the cautious contemporary environment) not only Western classical traditions but also the Catholic Church. Dedicated to More himself, Erasmus wittily challenged entrenched views in so forthright (and humanist) a style that it could have brought him in direct conflict with the papacy. Fortunately the pope, Leo X, enjoyed the humour and the challenge!
Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle. Lady Jane Grey has just been executed by her cousin Mary Tudor and her two younger sisters, Mary and Catherine, live in the shadow of their sister's tragic demise. Lady Catherine's fatal flaw is her compulsive desire for love, while clever Lady Mary is burdened with a crooked spine and tiny stature - and both have inherited the curse of royal blood.
"Tudor History at its Finest!"
George Eliot's first full-length novel Adam Bede is a profound rendering of 19th century English pastoral life. This timeless story of seduction and betrayal follows the virtuous carpenter Adam Bede, whose world is soon disrupted when the all-too-beautiful Hetty betrays him for another villager. Her actions precipitate a turmoil of tragic events that shake the very foundations of their serene rural community.
Set in a chaotic time in England, during the height of the Napoleonic Wars, Caroline Helstone's world is turned upside down when she meets the vivacious Shirley Keeldar. Shirley becomes a beacon of light for Caroline as the two become close friends. However, Caroline is soon shocked to discover that Shirley has won the affections of Robert Moore, the impoverished mill owner whom she loves. Fully representative of Yorkshire life at the time, Brontë's second novel is completely gripping, unrelenting and utterly wrenching in its portrayal.
Shamela is a bawdy, spirited, and hilarious response to Samuel Richardson's hugely popular 1740 novel, Pamela. In this pointed satire, Shamela (which transpires to be the real name of Richardson's Pamela) reveals the ulterior motives behind the events that took place in Pamela. Shamela is unlike the virtuous young lady portrayed in Richardson's novel and she takes command of her master, Squire Booby. Our heroine has planned it all out from the start and she is determined to entrap her master into marriage.
"A fun listen after Pamela"
'Lady B. stays to tea. (Mem.: Bread-and-butter too thick. Speak to Ethel.) We talk some more about bulbs, the Dutch School of Painting, our Vicar's wife, sciatica, and All Quiet on the Western Front. (Query: is it possible to cultivate the art of conversation when living in the country all the year round?)' If the question suggests a qualified answer, there is no doubt that the art of diary writing is alive and well and very, very funny in Devonshire in the 1920s. At least in the hands of E. M. Delafield.
Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audio edition of Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Freemantle, read by Georgina Sutton and Roy McMillan. Penelope Devereux is a legendary beauty in the court of Elizabeth, but it's not just her looks which mark her apart. With her canny instinct for being in the right place at the right time and her skilled political manipulation, she has become a formidable adversary to anyone who stands in her path.
The unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Virginia Nicholson's Millions Like Us: Women's Lives in the Second World War. A special multi-voice recording featuring five actresses that bring to life the hundreds of personal testimonies, diary entries and books that make up this superb study. Read by Patience Tomlinson, Annie Aldington, Rachel Bavidge, Julie Maisey and Georgina Sutton.
"So much interesting information"
In post-war East Midlands, in a home dominated by their difficult grandmother and aunt, Yvette and Lucille are two sisters struggling to bring joy into their lives. Their mother, having run off in a scandal, leaves the two to suffer a dysfunctional family life and oppressive domesticity. But one day, Yvette meets a free-spirited gypsy and his family, awakening her sexual desires and compounding her disenchantment.
In a claustrophobic household, oppressed by her blind, toad-like grandmother and a cowardly, conventional father, Yvette’s exuberance seems doomed to suppression. But meeting a gypsy awakens unfamiliar emotions in her, making her challenge the family’s accepted morality. As she wavers between conformity and rebellion, a flash flood threatens her home, her world, and her life. This short novel deals with all the major themes of sexuality and identity that made Lawrence one of the most original and influential writers of the 20th century; and it is a satirical, atmospheric, moving and surprising masterpiece.
The court of Henry VIII is rife with intrigue, rivalries, and romance - and none are better placed to understand this than the women at its heart. Katherine Parr, widowed for the second time aged 31, is obliged to return to court but, suspicious of the aging king and those who surround him, she does so with reluctance. Nevertheless, when she finds herself caught up in a passionate affair with the dashing and seductive Thomas Seymour, she believes she might finally be able to marry for love.