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Poor Caroline

Poor Caroline

Caroline Denton-Smyth is an eccentric, dressed in trailing feathers and jangling beads, peering out from behind her lorgnette. Sitting alone in her West Kensington bedsitter, she dreams of the Christian Cinema Company – her vehicle for reform. For Caroline sees herself as a pioneer, one who must risk everything for the ‘Cause of the Right’. Her Board of Directors is a motley crew including Basil St Denis, upper crust but impecunious; Joseph Isenbaum, aspiring to Society and Eton for his son; Eleanor de la Roux, Caroline’s independent cousin from South Africa; Hugh Macafee, a curt Scottish film technician; young Father Mortimer, scarred from the First World War; and Clifton Johnson, a seedy American scenario writer on the make. Winifred Holtby affectionately observes the foibles of human nature in this sparkiling satire, first published in 1931.
Anderby Wold

Anderby Wold

Mary Robson is a young Yorkshire woman, married to her solid, unromantic cousin, John. Together they battle to preserve Mary’s neglected inheritance, her beloved farm, Anderby Wold. This labour of love – and the benevolent tyranny of traditional Yorkshire ways – have made Mary old before her time. Then into her purposeful life comes David Rossitur, red-haired, charming, eloquent: how can she help but love him? But David is a young man from a different England, radical and committed to social change. As their confrontation and its consequences inevitably unfold, Mary’s life and that of the calm village of Anderby are changed forever.
The Land Of Green Ginger

The Land Of Green Ginger

Joanna Burton was born in South Africa but sent by her missionary father to be raised in Yorkshire. There she dreams of the far-off lands she will visit and adventures to come. At eighteen, tall and flaxen-haired, she meets Teddy Leigh, a young man on his way to the trenches of the First World War. Joanna has been in love before – with Sir Walter Raleigh, with the Scarlet Pimpernel, with Coriolanus – but this is different. Teddy tells her he’s been given the world to wear as a golden ball. Joanna believes him and marries him, but the fabled shores recede into the distance when, after the war, Teddy returns in ill health. The magic land turns out to be the harsh reality of motherhood and life on a Yorkshire farm. Yet still she dares to dream.
Angel

Angel

INTRODUCED BY HILARY MANTEL

Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: an author of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth – Sarah Waters


Writing stories that are extravagant and fanciful, fifteen-year old Angel retreats to a world of romance, escaping the drabness of provincial life. She knows she is different, that she is destined to become a feted authoress, owner of great riches and of Paradise House . . .

After reading The Lady Irania, publishers Brace and Gilchrist are certain the novel will be a success, in spite of – perhaps because of – its overblown style. But they are curious as to who could have written such a book – an elderly lady, romanticising behind lace curtains? A mustachioed rogue?

They were not expecting it to be the pale, serious teenage girl, sitting before them without a hint of irony in her soul.

*

‘Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one’s own experience’ Elizabeth Bowen

‘No writer has described the English middle classes with more gently devastating accuracy’ Rebecca Abrams, Spectator
Blaming

Blaming

‘How deeply I envy any reader coming to her for the first time!’ Elizabeth Jane Howard

*

A finely nuanced exploration of responsibility, snobbery and culture clash from one of the twentieth century’s finest novelists.

When Amy is suddenly left widowed and alone while on holiday in Istanbul, Martha, an American traveller, comforts her and accompanies her back to England. Upon their return, however, Amy is ungratefully reluctant to maintain their relationship, recognising that, under any other circumstances, the two women would not be friends. But guilt is a hard taskmaster, and Martha has away of getting under one’s skin …

*

‘Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one’s own experience’ Elizabeth Bowen

‘No writer has described the English middle classes with more gently devastating accuracy’ Rebecca Abrams, Spectator

‘A Game of Hide and Seek showcases much of what makes Taylor a great novelist: piercing insight, a keen wit and a genuine sense of feeling for her characters’ Elizabeth Day, Guardian
Challenge

Challenge

CHALLENGE was Vita Sackville-West’s second novel. It was ready to go to print in 1920, but the author suddenly changed her mind. This was not because she lacked confidence in her work, but because of the scandal it would have caused. CHALLENGE remained unpublished for over fifty years.

Vita’s love affair with Violet Trefusis had reached its peak, and, eloping to France, they decided to abandon everything and everyone – children and husbands included – to spend the rest of their lives together. Although they returned to their families eventually, CHALLENGE remains a testament of their love, and was written during that period.

The hero, Julian, might be a Byronic young Englishman, and Eve the woman he adores; it may be an adventure tale about a revolt on a Greek island. But really, this is a love story, written in the presence of the beloved, and inspired by her. And, as its title implies, the novel is a challenge to the society that condemned Vita and her lover.
Some Tame Gazelle

Some Tame Gazelle

INTRODUCED BY MAVIS CHEEK

‘I’m a huge fan of Barbara Pym’ Richard Osman

‘She is the rarest of treasures; she reminds us of the heartbreaking silliness of everyday life’ Anne Tyler

Together yet alone, the Misses Bede occupy the central crossroads of parish life. Harriet, plump, elegant and jolly, likes nothing better than to make a fuss of new curates, secure in the knowledge that Count Ricardo Bianco will propose to her yet again this year. Belinda, meanwhile, has harboured sober feelings of devotion towards Archdeacon Hoccleve for thirty years.

Then into their quiet, comfortable lives comes a famous librarian, Nathaniel Mold, and a bishop from Africa, Theodore Grote – who each takes to calling on the sisters for rather more unsettling reasons.

Some Tame Gazelle is my personal favourite for its sparkling high comedy and its treasury of characters . . . [Pym] makes me smile, laugh out loud, consider my own foibles and fantasies, and, above all, suffer real regret when I reach the final page. Of how many authors can you honestly say that?’ MAVIS CHEEK
Less Than Angels

Less Than Angels

INTRODUCED BY SALLEY VICKERS

‘I’m a huge fan of Barbara Pym’ RICHARD OSMAN

‘She is the rarest of treasures; she reminds us of the heart-breaking silliness of everyday life’ ANNE TYLER

Catherine Oliphant is a writer and lives with handsome anthropologist Tom Mallow. Their relationship runs into trouble when he begins a romance with student Deirdre Swann, so Catherine turns her attention to the reclusive anthropologist Alaric Lydgate, who has a fondness for wearing African masks. Added to this love tangle are the activities of Deirdre’s fellow students and their attempts to win the competition for a research grant.

The course of true love or academia never did run smooth.

‘Her best [novels] are sheer delight, and all of them companionable. Quiet, paradoxical, funny and sad, they have the iron in them of permanence too’ JOHN UPDIKE, NEW YORKER

‘She can be seriously, hilariously funny – no other novelist has celebrated our national silliness with such exuberance’ KATE SAUNDERS
Palladian

Palladian

Introduced by Neel Mukherjee

‘All her writings could be described as coming into the category of comedy. Comedy is the best vehicle for truths that are too fierce to be borne’ Anita Brookner

‘Elizabeth Taylor has an eye as sharply all-seeing as her prose is elegant – even the humdrum becomes astonishing when told in language that always aims for descriptive integrity, without a cliché in sight. As a result, Taylor excels in conveying the tragicomic poignancy of the everyday’ Daily Telegraph

When newly orphaned Cassandra Dashwood arrives as governess to little Sophy, the scene seems set for the archetypal romance between young girl and austere widowed employer. Strange secrets abound in the ramshackle house. But conventions are subverted in this atmospheric novel: one of its worlds is suffused with classical scholarship and literary romance, but the other is chaotic, quarrelsome and even farcical. Cassandra is to discover that in real life, tragedy, comedy and acute embarrassment are never far apart.
The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

INTRODUCED BY DAVID BADDIEL

‘Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: an author of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth. As a reader, I have found huge pleasure in returning to Taylor’s novels and short stories many times over. As a writer I’ve returned to her too – in awe of her achievements, and trying to work out how she does it’ SARAH WATERS


Vinny Tumulty is a quiet, sensible man. When he goes to stay at a seaside town, his task is to comfort Isabella, a bereaved friend, and and he is prepared for a solemn few days of tears and consolation. But on the evening of his arrival, he looks out of the window at the sunset and catches sight of a beautiful woman walking by the seashore. Before the week is over Vinny has fallen in love, completely and utterly, for the first time in his middle-aged life. Emily, though, is a sleeping beauty, her secluded life hiding bitter secrets from the past.
At Mrs Lippincote's

At Mrs Lippincote's

The debut novel from Elizabeth Taylor – shortlisted for the Booker Prize

*

Mrs Lippincote’s house, with its mahogany furniture and yellowing photographs, stands as a reminder of all the certainties that have vanished with the advent of war. Temporarily, this is home for Julia, who has joined her husband Roddy at the behest of the RAF. Although she can accept the pomposities of service life, Julia’s honesty and sense of humour prevent her from taking her role as seriously as her husband, that leader of men, might wish; for Roddy, merely love cannot suffice – he needs homage as well as admiration. And Julia, while she may be a most unsatisfactory officer’s wife, is certainly no hypocrite.

*

‘Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one’s own experience’ Elizabeth Bowen

‘No writer has described the English middle classes with more gently devastating accuracy’ Rebecca Abrams, Spectator

‘A Game of Hide and Seek showcases much of what makes Taylor a great novelist: piercing insight, a keen wit and a genuine sense of feeling for her characters’ Elizabeth Day, Guardian
A Wreath Of Roses

A Wreath Of Roses

INTRODUCED BY HELEN DUNMORE

Elizabeth Taylor’s darkest novel . . . She writes with a sensuous richness of language that draws the reader down the most shadowy paths . . . Extremely beguiling. Taylor makes the living moment present, touchable, disturbing, enchanting – Helen Dunmore

Spending the holiday with friends, as she has for many years, Camilla finds that their private absorptions – Frances with her painting and Liz with her baby – seem to exclude her from the gossipy intimacies of previous summers. Anxious that she will remain encased in her solitary life as a school secretary, and perhaps to spite of her friends, Camilla steps into an unlikely liaison with Richard Elton, a handsome, assured – and dangerous – liar.

Elizabeth Taylor’s darkest novel is a skillful exploration of the danger we’ll go to to avoid loneliness. Taylor is increasingly recognised as one of the best writers of the twentieth century, and this little-known novel displays her range admirably.
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