In these witty and comic stories, Horace Rumpole takes on a variety of clients and activities. He, of course, brings each case to a successful end, all the while quoting poetry and drinking claret.
"Wordsworth in a Wig"
Charles Strickland, a conventional stockbroker, abandons his wife and children for Paris and Tahiti, to live his life as a painter. While his betrayal of family, duty and honour gives him the freedom to achieve greatness, his decision leads to an obsession which carries severe implications.
"Roman a clef-abominable french artist Paul Gauguin"
A meeting at Oxford University during World War II signalled the beginning of a lifelong friendship between two outstanding contributors to 20th century English literature: Philip Larkin, poet, and Kingsley Amis, the prolific novelist. Selected from correspondence written between 1943 and 1985, these letters offer an entertaining and illuminating insight into the prejudices, exasperations and in-jokes of two literary greats. A linking commentary complements the writers' own words.
Penguin Classics presents William Makepeace Thackeray adapted for audio and available as a digital download as part of the Penguin English Library series. Read by Robert Hardy’s Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? Or, having it, is satisfied? No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder.
The story picks up from the end of Blue at the Mizzen when Jack Aubrey receives the news, in Chile, of his elevation to flag rank: Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron, with orders to sail to the South Africa station. This new novel, unfinished and untitled at the time of O’Brian’s death, would have been a chronicle of that mission, and much else besides. As the novel opens, we are able to visit these friends we have followed so very far in a rare state of almost perfect felicity.
The four seasons of the Wessex year form the backdrop for the delightful romance of Dick Dewy and Fancy Day. The ups and downs of their courtship are set alongside the story of the rustics who form the church choir.
Has Rumpole hung up his wig for good? Can it be? Yes, the beloved barrister is now retired (though far from retiring) and gently ripening to a rosy hue in the Florida sunshine. But a colleague's casual request for advice on a difficult case sends him winging back across the Atlantic, and before he's through, our hero will come up against a fanatical religious cult and a mysterious letter written in blood.
A satiric novel by Evelyn Waugh, published in 1930. Set in England between the wars, the novel examines the frenetic but empty lives of the Bright Young Things, young people who indulge in constant party-going, heavy drinking, and promiscuous sex. At the novel's end, the realities of the world intrude, with Adam Fenwick-Symes, the protagonist, serving on a battlefield at the onset of another world war.
A ruthlessly ambitious Scottish lord siezes the throne with the help of his scheming wife - and a trio of witches. Anthony Quayle, Robert Hardy, Ian Holm, Stanley Holloway, and Jill Balcon star in an unabridged performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
"Most of Act III is missing"
Penguin Classics presents the audiobook adaptation of Our Mutual Friend, Dickens’ last completed novel portraying a dark, macabre London. Read by Robert Hardy. Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance - Old Harmons’ profitable dust heaps - and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and kindly dustman Mr Boffin, to whom the fortune defaults.
"This isn't the unabridged. Whomp, whomp."
Blenheim Palace was built to reward and celebrate the achievements of John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, who won a hugely significant victory against the armies of France and Bavaria on 13 August, 1704. The battle took place near Blindheim, or Blenheim, a little village on the north bank of the Danube, in Bavaria.
As The Thirteen-Gun Salute opens, Jack Aubrey has been reinstated to his command, and he and his old friend Dr Maturin are sailing on a secret mission with a hand-picked crew, most of them shipmates from the adventures and lucrative voyages of earlier years. But Patrick O'Brian's resourcefulness is a sure warrant that things will not turn out as his readers or characters expect. Twists and turns, sub-plots, echoes from the past, these are the only certainties in this astonishing novel.
On half-pay and without a command, Captain Jack Aubrey is stranded at home in an over-crowded cottage with his large and frequently bad-tempered family. When Jack has almost given up hope of ever returning to sea, Stephen Maturin, ship's doctor, occasional intelligence agent, and Jack's closest friend, brings secret orders that Jack is to take a frigate to the Cape of Good Hope under a Commodore's pennant.
Captain Jack Aubrey sails away from the brutal Australian prison colonies, returned to his favourite ship the Surprise, but pondering on middle age and sexual frustration. Furthermore, he soon becomes aware that he is out of touch with the mood of his ship: to his astonishment he finds that in spite of a lifetime's experience he does not know what the foremast hands or even his own officers are thinking.
Master and Commander is the first of Patrick O'Brian's now famous Aubrey/Maturin novels, regarded by many as the greatest series of historical novels ever written.
"abridged too far"
This tale begins with Jack Aubrey arriving home from his exploits in the Mediterranean to find England at peace following the Treaty of Amiens. He and his friend Stephen Maturin, surgeon and secret agent, begin to live the lives of country gentlemen, hunting, entertaining, and enjoying amorous adventures. Their comfortable existence, however, is cut short when Jack is overnight reduced to a pauper with enough debts to keep him in prison for life.
H.M.S. Surprise follows the variable fortunes of Captain Jack Aubrey's career in Nelson's navy as he attempts to hold his ground against admirals, colleagues, and the enemy, accepting a commission to convey a British ambassador to the East Indies. The voyage takes him and his friend Stephen Maturin to the strange sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent, and through the archipelago of spice island where the French have a near-overwhelming local superiority.
Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey. Even Jack’s exploits at sea turn sour in the storm waters off Brest. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814 peace breaks out. But Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with news that the Chileans require the service of English officers. Jack is savouring this reprieve for his career when he receives an urgent dispatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.
Commissioned to rescue Governor Bligh of Bounty fame, Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend and surgeon, Stephen Maturin, sail the Leopard to Australia with a hold full of convicts. Among them is a beautiful and dangerous spy...and a treacherous disease which decimates the crew.
Jack Aubrey's long service is at last rewarded: he is promoted to the rank of Commodore and given a squadron of ships to command. His mission is twofold: to make a large dent in the slave trade off the coast of Africa and, on his return, to intercept a French fleet set for Bantry Bay with a cargo of weapons for the disaffected among the Irish. Invention and surprise follow at every turn in this tale of 19th-century seamanship, as rich, as compelling, and as masterly as any of its predecessors.