New releases

The Song of the Lark

Willa Cather

The second novel in the Great Plains trilogy, this is a passionate portrait of the artist as a young woman

Thea Kronberg, a young girl from a small town in Colorado has a great gift - her beautiful singing voice. Her talent takes her to the great opera houses of Europe, and through ambition and hard work, she forges a life as an artist. But if she can never go home again, nor can she leave behind her past. At last, in a desert canyon in Arizona, Thea has a revelation that will allow her to attain a new state of spirituality and become a truly great artist.

'Willa Cather makes a world which is burningly alive, sometimes lovely, often tragic' Helen Dunmore

'The Song of the Lark illuminates all her work' A. S. Byatt

'Lingers long in the memory' Joyce Carol Oates

Promise at Dawn

Romain Gary

'You will be a great hero, a general, Gabriele d'Annunzio, Ambassador of France!'


For his whole life, Romain Gary's fierce, eccentric motherhad only one aim: to make her son a great man. And she did. This, his thrilling, wildly romantic autobiography, is the story of his journey from poverty in Eastern Europe to the sensual world of the Côte d'Azur and on to wartime pilot, resistance hero, diplomat, filmmaker, star and one of the most famed French writers of his age.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque (and others)

In 1914 Paul Bäumer and his classmates are marched to the local recruiting office by a sentimentally patriotic form-master. On a calm October day in 1918, only a few weeks before the Armistice, Paul will be the last of them to be killed. In All Quiet on the Western Front he tells their story.
A few years after it was published in 1929 the Nazis would denounce and publicly burn Remarque's novel for insulting the heroic German army - in other words, for 'telling it like it was' for the common soldier on the front line where any notions of glory and national destiny were soon blasted away by the dehumanizing horror of modern warfare.
Remarque has an extraordinary power of describing fear: the appalling tension of being holed up in a dugout under heavy bombardment; the animal instinct to kill or be killed which takes over during hand-to-hand combat. He also has an eye for the grimly comic: the consignment of coffins Paul and his friends pass as they make their way up the line for a new offensive; the young soldiers joyfully tucking into double rations when half their company are unexpectedly wiped out.
Remarque's elegy for a sacrificed generation is all the more devastating for the laconic prose in which his teenaged veteran narrates shocking experiences which for him have become the stuff of daily life. Paul cannot imagine a life after the war and can no longer relate to his family when he returns home on leave. Only the camaraderie of his diminishing circle of friends has any meaning for him. He comes especially to depend on an older comrade, Stanislaus Katczinsky, and one of the most poignant moments in the book is when he carries the wounded Kat on his back under fire to the field dressing station, with starkly tragic outcome.
The saddest and most compelling war story ever written.

Burmese Days

George Orwell

Volume 2 of The Complete Works of George Orwell

Burmese Days was first published in the United States, by Harper & Brothers, in October 1934. It was Orwell's second book to be published and his first novel. It draws on his experiences serving in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma (some preliminary sketches survive on Government of Burma paper). he resigned from the Burma Police in autumn 1927 'because he disliked putting people into prison for doing the same things which he should have done in their circumstances'.

Orwell was convinced that publication of his novel in England would be impeded by the India Office because of his exposure of the evils of colonialism - his title, so appropriate to a volume of conventional memoirs, is subtly ironic - but his difficulties proved quite different. Victor Gollancz, though keen to publish Burmese Days, feared action for defamation and libel.

After modification, an English version was brought out in June 1935. Although at the time Orwell considered the changes required to be 'trifling', he later rejected the English edition as 'garbled'. However, as well as forced changes, it does include genuine authorial revisions, something which Orwell had forgotten.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

George Orwell

Volume 4 of The Complete Works of George Orwell

Originally published in 1936, before Orwell achieved fame, Keep the Aspidistra Flying takes Money as its theme. Gordon Comstock gives up a good job in an advertising agency to become a part-time bookshop assistant at a meagre wage, thereby gaining leisure for writing. However, after some modest success in the world of letters he eventually slides into the abyss, to be rescued by the faithful Rosemary.

Ironically, Gordon’s voyage of discovery leads him back to commercial security, marriage, and the unexpected pleasures of domesticity. But above all he learns of the courage of keeping up appearances despite hardships. The symbol of this is the potted aspidistra: the ugly, stubborn, organic emblem of social and biological survival.

This new edition restores most of the material censored on first publication due to fears of action for libel, defamation and obscenity. Of particular interest are the previously suppressed advertising slogans of the 1930s and, in light of the censorship he experienced, Orwell's ironic choice of surname for Gordon: Comstock.

Coming Up For Air

George Orwell

Volume 7 of The Complete Works of George Orwell

Coming Up for Air looks back from the sprawl of thirties housing estates, new arterial roads and the domination of the motor car, to an idealised golden England, largely rural and unmechanised when, in the nostalgia of childhood, it was ‘summer. . . always summer’. It looks forward to the destruction wrought by air-raids (though written in 1938–1939, war is expected in 1941) leading to ‘The world we’re going down into, the kind of hate-world, slogan-world. . the rubber truncheons. . the posters with enormous faces’ that will be Nineteen Eighty-Four. Yet, despite its sense of loss and its grim foreboding, Coming Up for Air is a very funny book, with a rich sense of the incongruity of life and people, and it is illuminated by Orwell's wry, sardonic wit in which there is not a little self-parody.

Charles Dickens' best-loved books

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