Four previously uncollected stories from one of the great mystery writers of our time - swift, cunning murder mysteries (two of which feature the young Adam Dalgliesh) that together, to borrow the author's own word, add up to a delightful "entertainment".
"I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him.
"Well, that was a surprise"
An anthology of over 60 classic love poems, read by some of our finest actors. Love has always been the supreme inspiration for poets, whether romantic or platonic, reciprocated or unrequited. This collection contains a range of the very best love poems, including Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress", Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" and Byron's "So We'll Go No More A-Roving" - as well as several sonnets from the master himself, William Shakespeare.
It's 1943 and Lily Tregenza lives on a farm in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton. Apart from her father being away, and the 'townie' evacuees at school, her life is scarcely touched by the war. Until one day, when Lily and her family, along with 3000 other villagers, are told to move out of their homes: lock, stock, and barrel.
Fleeing a disastrous marriage, Helen Huntingdon retreats to the desolate mansion, Wildfell Hall, with her son, Arthur. There, she makes her living as a painter. Finding it difficult to avoid her neighbors, she is soon an object of speculation and gossip. Brontë portrays Helen's eloquent struggle for independence at a time when society defined a married woman as her husband's property.
"Excellent performances "
Emma, by many considered the best English novel, can be read as a charming love story, a detective story, and a comic and lively picture of English life 200 years ago.
When orphaned Mary Lennox arrives at Misselthwaite Manor, her uncle's estate, everybody said she was the most disagreeable looking child ever seen. Depressed and withdrawn, Mary stumbles upon an arched doorway into an overgrown garden. She later discovers her pampered invalid cousin, tucked away in a dark room. Soon a charming journey into the magical secret garden begins.
"A great reflection"
Elizabeth Gaskell highlights the difference between the middle and working classes in this tale set in the time of the Industrial Revolution. A largely autobiographical story, she also highlights the good that each group can do for each other, and the friendships and understandings that can blossom between two seemingly irreconcilable means and modes of life. Gaskell shows her great love of people, and of love itself, in this touching and enlightening tale.
Two years ago, Fever Crumb escaped the war-torn city of London. Now she arrives in the extraordinary city of Mayda, where buildings ascend the cliffs on rails, and a mysterious recluse is building a machine that can fly. Fever is the engineer he needs - but ruthless enemies will kill to possess their secrets.
Elizabeth Roffe, only child of one of the world's richest men, has it all; beauty, intelligence, innocence and youth. But when her father dies, she discovers that she has inherited not only his vast pharmaceutical company, with offices and factories all over the world, but also an unspeakable terror that threatens to destroy the business. As she struggles to save the company that took her family four generations to build, she realizes that she herself is the target of an unknown assassin.
"Savored the Suspense"
This is the story of a woman's struggle for independence. Helen "Graham" has returned to Wildfell Hall in flight from a disastrous marriage. Exiled to the desolate moorland mansion, she adopts an assumed name and earns her living as a painter.
In the year 1629, a young English lutenist named Peter Claire arrives at the Danish Court to join King Christian IV's Royal Orchestra. From the moment when he realizes that the musicians perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, Peter Clair understands that he's come to a place where the opposing states of light and dark, good and evil, are waging war to the death.
"Can Rose Tremain Write a BAD Book?"
Irrespressible Max wants to stay up late on Christmas so he can see Santa Claus.
Christina Rossetti's poignant wish that she could capture the elusive memory of the first time she met her love, read by Jenny Agutter.
"A Birthday": Christina Rossetti's joyful celebration that her one true love has arrived, read by Jenny Agutter.
Little Clara, her brother Fritz, the giving of presents, the Nutcracker soldier, and toys that come to life all form the basis of the story which Tchaikovsky brought to life in one of his finest scores.
Eugenia Malmains is one of the richest girls in England and an ardent supporter of Captain Jack and the Union Jack shirts; Noel and Jasper are both in search of an heiress (so much easier than trying to work for the money); Poppy and Marjorie are nursing lovelorn hearts; and the beautiful bourgeois Mrs Lace is on the prowl for someone to lighten the boredom of her life.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." So opens this famous novel which has become Jane Austen's best loved and best known work.
"Very Enjoyable abridgement"
Winner of Best Audio Drama, BBC Audio Drama Awards, 2013. Winner of Speculative Fiction, Parsec Award, 2013. The Minister of Chance is a wildly exciting, picaresque fantasy adventure and a brilliant, Swiftian satire on politics and religion.
"Audio needs balancing desperately!"
The magic of ballet is evoked in these enchanting stories presented with many musical excerpts from the works themselves. Jenny Agutter, who before turning to acting was a dancer, presents the stories of two French ballets - Giselle and Coppelia - and the three great ballets by Tchaikovsky, in engaging style. A perfect introduction to the ballet.