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Now Is the Hour

Tom Spanbauer (Author)

1967. Rigby John Kluesener stands in the moonlight, a flower in his hair, his thumb out trying to hitch a ride on the road to San Francisco. The story of how he came to be there - of an adolescence spent on his parents' farm in Nowheresville, Idaho, of his father's misanthropy, his mother's strict Catholicism - is utterly real and totally unforgettable.

Matisse's War

Peter Everett (Author)

At seventy, Henri Matisse is a trim, clean old gentleman with a passion for naked women. He is UN MONSTRE SACRE who depicts with passion and conviction only what he takes pleasure in, only what he chooses to see. He is art personified. If there were no Matisse there would be no art as such. . . . He has purged everything from his painting except anxieties concerning structure and colour; his struggle is with these alone! MATISSE'S WAR is a minutely researched yet fictional account of Matisse's life during the years 1939-1945. It is also a superb portrait of the lives of the major French artists and writers under the German occupation. Louis Aragon, Malraux, Picasso and Bonnard all appear prominently in the narrative.

Answer Me

Susanna Tamaro (Author)

An international bestseller from the author of Follow Your Heart, which has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.

'I kill you in order that I may live. I kill you in order that I may possess. I kill you in order that I may be free of you.' Thus the protagonist Rosa muses on a bitter winter night, alone and confused, as she faces the most difficult decision of her young life. Are we, the characters ask, damned or are we capable of salvation? Can we exist in a world dominated by greed and envy?

This is a book about the nature of evil, the struggle to live without fear and the search for love.

Jacques Tati His Life & Art

David Bellos (Author)

Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot, unmistakeable with his pipe, brolly and striped socks, was a creation of sheer slapstick genius that made audiences around the world laugh at the sheer absurdity of life. This biography charts Tati's rise and fall, from his earliest beginnings as a music hall mime during the Depression, to the success of Jour de Fete and Mon Oncle, to Playtime, the grandiose masterpiece that left the once delebrated director bankrupt and begging for equipment to complete his final films. Analysing Tati's singular vision, Bellos reveals the intricate staging of his most famous gags and draws upon hitherto inaccessible archives to produce a unique assessment of his work and its context for film lovers and film students alike.

The Condor's Head

Ferdinand Mount (Author)

A fair-haired young man from Virginia sees a dark girl rowing on the lake at Versailles and he falls in love. She turns out to be the Duchess de La Rochefoucauld, known as Rosalie, married to a man twice her age who also happens to be her uncle. It is the spring of 1875 and the young American, William Short, nicknamed Wm, has crossed the Atlantic to serve as secretary to his adoptive father Thomas Jefferson at the Paris embassy. Lodging on the Champs Elysees with Jefferson's two young daughters and their teenage slave Sally Hemings, Wm becomes the darling of the free spirits of the ancien regime, who want to copy everything American, including revolution and the pursuit of happiness.

But this is a time when nothing runs straight, certainly not the pursuit of happiness. Together and apart, Wm and Rosalie endure the bloodiest days of the Terror when everyone loses their heads or their illusions except for one man, but that man is about to become President of the United States.

Stylish, intelligent and witty, The Condor's Head is by turns tense and erotic, incredibly funny and unbearably sad. It includes the real-life letters of Wm and Rosalie and Jefferson, some never published before. It also incidentally reveals the truth about the Third President and Sally Hemings.

A Good Voyage

Katharine Davies (Author)

When her twin brother breaks a promise and returns to their childhood home in Sri Lanka on his own, Valentina decides that it's time to make some changes in her life. She cuts off her hair and takes a job as a gardener (although she'd prefer to be a writer) in a small town near the sea in Wales. And so the story takes us to Illerwick, an alluring, timeless place, and to the people who live there. Leo Spring, an eccentric musician, lives alone in Beech House with a once beautiful garden that has now become overgrown and wild. Valentina has come to help Leo restore the neglected garden to its former glory, and she soon falls in love with him. But Leo is consumed by his unrequited infatuation with Melody, the beautiful headmistress in mourning for her brother who leapt to his death from the cliffs. Mr Boase, the alcoholic and bullying deputy head, also holds a flame for Melody; and one of her pupils, Fitch, is another who daydreams about her. As summer draws near, and the garden is gradually transformed, Leo organises a garden party in an attempt to impress Melody. But on the night of the party, events come to a head, secret passions are revealed, and the characters are jolted into understanding that facing their feelings can be a matter of life or death. A Good Voyage is a magical story that charts the voyages of its characters as they move from the pain and comedy of loss and longing to self-realisation and love. Katharine Davies writes with an astounding poise and lightness of touch, making this first novel, with its air of disquiet and enchantment, an unforgettable pleasure.

Goodbye Lucille

Segun Afolabi (Author)

Winner of the 2008 Authors' Club Best First Novel Award

It's Berlin; sometime in the 1980s. Vincent is an overweight, vaguely unhappy photographer who lives in a small flat in a house owned by a demented landlady. His neighbours and friends include an ex-marine transsexual escort girl, an East European refugee, a Nigerian playboy and various 'artistic types'. Vincent misses Lucille, the girl he left behind in London; he has not spoken to his adoptive father for years and resents his older brother's success. He isn't doing very much at all. Then a chance encounter in a bar, the murder of a local politician and an urgent letter from his aunt shake up his world and Vincent finally has to stop slacking and take some control.

Building on themes explored in his collection of short stories, A Life Elsewhere, Afolabi presents a Germany of immigrants and insiders both. This is a moving novel about the personal politics of identity and a gentle exploration of the nature of true love.

Short People

Joshua Furst (Author)

In Short People, we encounter, among many others, Jason and Billy, best friends who discover by the age of six how to conquer the world, only to see this idyll then shatter before them; Shawn, whose baptism compels him to make life a holy hell for everyone around him; and Evan, who finds that his pursuit of a Boy Scout merit badge is luring him into uncharted social territory. In the meantime, an agonized couple exhausts their expectations for their own kids, with an aftermath that afflicts them all. There's also Mary, whose sixteenth birthday precipitates an adulthood she is scarcely prepared to enter, and Emmy, who began that same transition when she was only twelve. Finally, and perhaps most harrowingly, is the nurse who with eerie prescience delivers so many babies to their destiny.

In a remarkable display of imagination and compassion, Joshua Furst reconstrues our preconceptions about innocence, purity, faith and memory through an unflinching, pitch-perfect gaze, with both authority and originality. Each new story enhances a collection whose importance is thoroughly contemporary and at once hilarious and heartbreaking.

The Sabotage Café

Joshua Furst (Author)

As a young woman in the 1980's, Julia became entangled with the emerging punk scene in Minneapolis - in particular with the band Nobody's fool - until a mysterious and unspeakable catastrophe delivers her to a husband and the suburbs. Battered by mental llness, haunted by memories and grief that stretching back to her childhood, she is unable to put her past behind her - or refrain from making her daughter Cheryl into a vessel for her own hopes and fears.

So it comes as little surprise when 16 year-old Cheryl packs a bag and runs away. Exactly where is anyone's guess, though as Julia envisions her daughter's every move from the house through the city's outskirts and into the city - she relives her own bygone experiences in the very same place, where the radical fringe converge. Here amidst a group of would-be revolutuionaries squatting in the Sabotage Café, Cheryl re-enacts her mothers troubled coming-of-age, initiated as she is into a sullied melange of drugs, awkward sex, glib anarchy and acts of vandalism and violence that throw into question everything that she, in her mothers mind's eye, has run from and wishes to become.

A chilling, mesmerizing portrait of todays innocents burdened with the fallout of their parent's rebellion in addition to their own, The Sabotage Cafe is an unforgettable tour de force of insight and compassion, a brilliant first novel by a writer in full, ambitious command of his craft.

Love Me

Gemma Weekes (Author)

A first love shouldn't bloom so fierce, you know? It shouldn't be like a fist forever clutched around the heart muscle... I didn't realise how bad I had it until he reappeared...

Singer-poet Gemma Weekes turns to prose with this dazzling first novel about love, set between London and New York one hot, sticky summer. Eden is locked in a state of mid-twenties adolescence - directionless, insecure and hopelessly obsessed with her first love. When Zed, the object of her affection, swoops into town, 'flash in every line of his body', spitting gangster rap and the most beautiful boy she's ever seen, she knows she must have him back. Paralysed by lust, Eden hangs out at Zed's gigs, squeezes into mini dresses and drops as many hints as a girl can without losing her dignity, but with no result. Zed's more interested in Max - a blonde with perfect bone structure and as white as toothpaste. But is Max the real reason these two can't get it together? As the story unfolds, glimpses of their St Lucian relatives and parents reveal that Eden and Zed have some serious history they need to face if they're ever to understand what real love is.

Gemma Weekes has a way with language that puts all the music, sweat, colour and raw emotion of a city night directly on to the page. Her dialogue fizzes with the spoken word, her character are intensely real. From Eden's Bible-bashing father to her mystical Aunt K and her rocker boyfriend Spanish, who smoulders with Black Pride, from Hackney to Brooklyn, Weekes brings to life a world of cross-cultural relationships, passion and pain that zings with life and reveals her to be a major new talent.

Listen to My Voice

Susanna Tamaro (Author) , John Cullen (Translator)

Marta is raised by her grandmother in her house in Trieste, a safe haven of stories, books and enchantment. She knows that her mother died when she was young, and she believes that her father is a Turkish prince. But, as she grows older and this fairy tale disintegrates, Marta feels only anger towards her grandmother for withholding information about her parents.

When her grandmother dies, Marta is alone in the world. One day, in the dusty attic, she finds a box belonging to her mother which may help to uncover her own past. With clues found in her mother's journal and a worn photograph, Marta decides to track down her father, who she believes may still be alive. Feeling the need to escape her grandmother's house, which is populated by secrets, Marta embarks on a journey to Israel, seeking what is left of her mother's family in an attempt to make sense of where she came from.

Written as a young woman's narrative addressed to the memory of her grandmother, Listen to My Voice is a poignant coming of age story, and a beautifully crafted meditation on the importance of history and belonging.

Stranger Than Fulham

M Baylis (Author) , Matthew Baylis (Author)

In an attempt to escape his bizarre family and stagnation up North, tv soap-addict Alistair Strange moves to Fulham where he lands a job editing for a vanity publisher. It is an odd kind of job, but he is used to oddness: his parents are strange, his elder brother is strange his name is strange... The behaviour of his lovely but troubled flat-mate Martha, however, is odder than anything that Alistair has encountered before. Can he rescue Martha? Can he find out what his family is hiding? And is life better than tv?

The Blue Door

André Brink (Author)

The Blue Door is built around one of the oldest questions in storytelling: What if ...? What if I return home one day to find, behind a familiar door, an unfamiliar world? What if the people closest to me turn out to be strangers? What if strangers start claiming a place in my life I cannot imagine? What if the memories of the most important moments in my life can no longer be trusted? What if I am not who I think I am?
David le Roux, a teacher recently turned fulltime artist, returns to his studio one afternoon to find his whole familiar world turned upside down. The woman who opens the door and welcomes him as her husband is a complete stranger to him: beautiful and loving, but not the wife he assumes he has been married to for nine years. The children are overjoyed at his return, but he has never set eyes on them before. And when he goes back to the building he believes he lives in, it no longer exists. Has everything in his life been illusion? Or is the past real and only the present a hallucination? In a country like South Africa these questions may decide a whole life.
Instead of living with the consequences of early choices he now discovers that behind every choice made lurks the possibility of innumerable other choices not made.
What if, indeed ...?

Getting Hurt

Andrew Davies (Author)

In his own words, Charlie Cross is a bloke in love. A hard-drinking, chain-smoking lawyer, he is well-off, divorced and heading for trouble. When he meets Viola in an after-hours drinking club, he knows instinctively that they could do each other harm. What follows is one man's record of a love affair, an erotic, savagely funny and heartfelt tale of destructive sexual passion.

The Town That Forgot How To Breathe

Kenneth J Harvey (Author)

Bareneed, Newfoundland, home to a vivid cast of characters who, one by one, come down with a mysterious breathing disorder. As the illness progresses, its victims fall into silence and are gripped by dark thoughts and urges. Meanwhile, the once-thriving cod fishery has been shut down and people find their nets full of bizarre creatures - the incarnations of legendary beasts and characters that existed in the village's tales for generations. One old-timer, Eileen Laracy, gradually makes the connection: the act of breathing is no longer automatic for the inhabitants of Bareneed - out of place and time, they have lost a fundamental part of their identity.

Take-Off

Daniel Del Giudice (Author)

Take-off: almost a ton of inert matter transformed by the pilot as it lifts off the runway into a thing of spirit and beauty.

Take-off: lifting one's shadow off the earth, entering a new element where movement is the very condition for existence, for, as the author observes, "in life, to choose the wrong wife or the wrong lift is conventionally viewed as being matters of varying gravity, but in piloting an aircraft an act of petty oversight, due to the obvious but decisive fact that in flight there can be no stopping, could be fatal."

Whether he is reliving his first solo flight or a frightening experience as he pilots a light aircraft through storm clouds, his training and his instincts constantly at odds, or the mysterious loss of an airliner on an internal flight, or the brief, adrenaline-charged lives of Italian torpedo-bombers in World War Two, Del Giudice focuses on the edge of experience in which a person learns to take nothing, but nothing, for granted.

While Take-off has much of the charm, humour and poetry to be found in the best of Saint-Exupéry (whose last flight is evoked in the final chapter), it will also remind the reader of Robert Pirsig's classic Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance by its close focus on the question of how the mind approaches problem-solving.

Winner of the Bagutta, Campiello and International Flaiano Prizes.

The Ogre's Laboratory

Louis Buss (Author)

When the previous incumbent in the parish of Wodden commits suicide in mysterious circumstances, Julian Snow, a gifted young Catholic priest, is sent to take his place.

Wodden is the home of a number of prominent Catholics, including a powerful Tory politician and the Trevellyans, an old Catholic family whose ancestral seat, Flamstead House, dominates the village. The ancient legend of Everard Trevellyan, the third Earl of Wodden, still haunts the village: monstrous in size, dissipated in morals, Everard is said to have preyed on the local children.

As Father Snow’s duties see him regularly visiting Flamstead House for Mass, a growing suspicion that something very sinister indeed is going on, and that the Trevellyan legend might be as alive as ever, begins to consume him just as he finds he has fallen in love…

A compelling and atmospheric modern Gothic novel, and a moving exploration of a priest's crisis of faith, THE OGRE'S LABORATORY is an immensely impressive achievement.

A Clear Calling

David Austin (Author)

From when he was twelve years old Robert Radnor had been in love with the idea of being a sailor. And a sailor he became, at home on the sea as other men were on land. Until the year of 1948, on board the steamship Golden Delta, serving as first officer under Captain Peeke, when Radnor's uncanny intuition about the sea and its ways suddenly deserts him and he finds himself alone with the sea, with his fear and with his terrifying foreknowledge.

Secret Thoughts

David Lodge (Author)

Helen Reed, a novelist in her early forties, still grieving for her husband who died suddenly a year before, is a visiting teacher of creative writing at a university where Ralph Messenger, a cognitive scientist with a special interest in Artificial Intelligence and an incorrigible womaniser, is director of a prestigious research institute.

He is an atheist and a materialist; she is a Catholic who has lost her faith but still yearns for the consolations of religion. Ralph is attracted to Helen and she, in spite of her principles, to him. They argue about the nature of human consciousness, and the different ways it is examined in science and literature, as she resists with weakening resolution Ralph's efforts to seduce her.

David Lodge has distilled the story of his acclaimed novel Thinks... to create a witty and absorbing drama about a moral, emotional and intellectual struggle between two exceptional people.

The D Case Or The Truth About The Mystery Of Edwin Drood

Fruttero , Carlo And Lucentini , Franco (Author)

At an international literary conference in Rome in the near future, the greatest detectives in history (and literature) gather to solve the mystery of Dickens' unfinished novel THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD and end up solving the mystery of Dickens' own death. At this crazy conference are Father Brown, Holmes, Maigret, Poirot, Marlowe, Lew Archer and even Nero Wolfe. Dickens' marvelously atmospheric novel is read to them (or imprinted on their brains by a new Japanese technique), chapter by chapter - and for the reader the chapters are interleaved with the story of the goings-on at the conference. Part detective story, part comic academic novel, part science fiction, part playful scholarship, part Dickens, THE D CASE is dazzling, offbeat, hilarious and original. (Translated by Gregory Dowling)

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