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I have several selections in the following books.
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Romance 1, 2

Classics

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Classics: Book reviews

10

Pride and prejudice
By Jane Austen

Prejudice.gif (5119 bytes) Elizabeth Bennet is the perfect Austen heroine: intelligent, generous, sensible, incapable of jealousy or any other major sin. That makes her sound like an insufferable goody-goody, but the truth is she's a completely hip character, who if provoked is not above skewering her antagonist with a piece of her exceptionally sharp -- but always polite -- 18th century wit. The point is, you spend the whole book absolutely fixated on the critical question: will Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy hook up?
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This is the best book I ever read and it is my favorite.

 

10

Jane Eyre
By Charlotte Bronte

Janeeyre.gif (4868 bytes) With her 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte created one of the most unforgettable heroines of all time. Not only is this the classic story of unforgettable love, but it is also the memorable tale of one woman's fight to claim her independence and respect in a society that seems to have no place for her.
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7.8

Shirley
By Charlotte Bronte

Shirley.gif (11927 bytes) Following the tremendous popular success of Jane Eyre, which earnedher lifelong notoriety as a moral revolutionary, Charlotte Brontė vowed towrite a sweeping social chronicle that focused on "something real andunromantic as Monday morning." Set in the industrializing England of theNapoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contrasting heroines. One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century.

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The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention. A work that combines social commentary with the more private preoccupations of Jane Eyre, Shirley demonstrates the full range of Brontė's literary talent. "Shirley is a revolutionary novel," wrote Brontė biographer Lyndall Gordon. "Shirley follows Jane Eyre as a new exemplar--but so much a forerunner of the feminist of the later twentieth century that it is hard to believe in her actual existence in 1811-12. She is a theoretic possibility: what a woman might be if she combined independence and means of her own with intellect. Charlotte Brontė imagined a new form of power, equal to that of men, in a confident young woman [whose] extraordinary freedom has accustomed her to think for herself....Shirley [is] Brontė's most feminist novel."

 

8.9

Little Women
By Louisa May Alcott

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Little Women is an American classic, adored for Louisa May Alcott's lively and vivid portraits of the endearing March sisters: talented tomboy Jo, pretty Meg, shy Beth, temperamental Amy. Millions have shared in their joys, hardships, and adventures as they grow up in Civil War New England, separated by the war from their father and beloved mother, "Marmee," blossoming from "little women" into adults. Jo searches for her writer's voice and finds unexpected love...Meg prepares for marriage and a family...Beth reaches out to the less fortunate, tragically...and Amy travels to Europe to become a painter. Based on Louisa May Alcott's own Yankee childhood, Little Women is a treasure -- a story whose enduring values of patience, loyalty, and love have kept this extraordinary family close to the hearts of generation after generation of delighted readers.

 

 

7.2

Wuthering Heights
By Emily Bronte

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Wuthering Heights is a classic tale of possessive and thwarted passion, one of the forerunners of today's soap operas and romance novels. The tempestuous and mythic story of Catherine Earnshaw, the precocious daughter of the house, and the ruggedly handsome, uncultured foundling her father brings home and names Heathcliff, is played out against the backdrop of English moors no less wild and raw than the love they develop for one another. Brought together as children, Catherine and Heathcliff quickly become attached to each other. As they grow older, their companionship turns into obsession. Family, class, and fate work cruelly against them, as do their own jealous and volatile natures, and much of their lives is spent in revenge and frustration. Yet there is something magnificent about the depth and intensity of their love. Even as you condemn Catherine and Heathcliff for the pain they inflict upon themselves and others, it is hard not to listen in awe when Catherine cries out "I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind; not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."

 

8.4

Emma
by Jane Austen

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First published in 1816, Emma is generally regarded as Jane Austen's most technically brilliant book. But that's not the reason to read it. Read it to see how a scheming heiress who is determined not to marry ends up embracing love and growing in maturity without dying or becoming impossibly insipid, the fate of so many nineteenth-century heroines. As her fourth novel was taking shape, Jane Austen noted "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." She was wrong. It is easy to love Emma Woodhouse. She is a snob, a meddler, and a spoiled child - she is also smart, funny, generous, and compassionate. Determined to control the arrangements of other people's lives, Emma takes on the self-appointed role of matchmaker in a world that grants little public power to women. Small wonder that Emma, who has a "mind lively and at ease," wastes her considerable creative powers dreaming up romantic scenarios that consistently and comically fail all reality checks. As in all of Jane Austen's works, the simple theme of courtship belies the complexity of her vision of human nature and of our need for power. Technical brilliance? Yes. Moral brilliance? Most definitely.

 

9.5

Persuasion
by Jane Austen

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Anne Elliot, heroine of Austen's last novel, did something we can all relate to: Long ago, she let the love of her life get away. In this case, she had allowed herself to be persuaded by a trusted family friend that the young man she loved wasn't an adequate match, social stationwise, and that Anne could do better. The novel opens some seven years after Anne sent her beau packing, and she's still alone. But then the guy she never stopped loving comes back from the sea. As always, Austen's storytelling is so confident, you can't help but allow yourself to be taken on the enjoyable journey.

 

7.2

An Old-Fashioned Girl
by Louisa May Alcott

Oldfashion.gif (5157 bytes) Polly's friendship with the wealthy Shaws of Boston helps them to build a new life and teaches her the truth about the relationship between happiness and riches.
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The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. It is considered a masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study. The novel is set in a village in Puritan New England. The main character is Hester Prynne, a young woman who has borne an illegitimate child. Hester believes herself a widow, but her husband, Roger Chillingworth, returns to New England very much alive and conceals his identity. He finds his wife forced to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as punishment for her adultery. Chillingworth becomes obsessed with finding the identity of his wife's former lover. When he learns that the father of Hester's child is Arthur Dimmesdale, a saintly young minister who is the leader of those exhorting her to name the child's father, Chillingworth proceeds to torment the guilt-stricken young man. In the end Chillingworth is morally degraded by his monomaniacal pursuit of revenge; Dimmesdale is broken by his own sense of guilt, and he publicly confesses his adultery before dying in Hester's arms. Only Hester can face the future bravely, as she plans to take her daughter Pearl to Europe to begin a new life.

 

9.6

Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy

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Michael Henchard is the respected mayor of Casterbridge, a thriving industrial town--but years ago, under the influence of alcohol, he sold his wife Susan to a sailor at a country fair. Although repentant and sober for 21 years, Henchard cannot escape his destiny when Susan and her daughter return to Casterbridge.
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7.3

A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens

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Novel by Charles Dickens, published both serially and in book form in 1859. The story is set in the late 18th century against the background of the French Revolution. Although Dickens borrowed from Thomas Carlyle's history, The French Revolution, for his sprawling tale of London and revolutionary Paris, the novel offers more drama than accuracy. The scenes of large-scale mob violence are especially vivid, if superficial in historical understanding. The complex plot involves Sydney Carton's sacrifice of his own life on behalf of his friends Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette. While political events drive the story, Dickens takes a decidedly antipolitical tone, lambasting both aristocratic tyranny and revolutionary excess--the latter memorably caricatured in Madame Defarge, who knits beside the guillotine. The book is perhaps best known for its opening lines, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," and for Carton's last speech, in which he says of his replacing Darnay in a prison cell, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."

 

8.2

A man for all seasons
by Robert Bolt

Manfor.gif (14675 bytes) The classic play about Sir Thomas More, the Lord chancellor who refused to compromise and was executed by Henry VIII.
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6.8

Adam Bede
George Eliot

Adambede.gif (12940 bytes) Novel written by George Eliot, published in three volumes in 1859. The title character, a carpenter, is in love with a woman who bears a child by another man. Although Bede tries to help her, he eventually loses her but finds happiness with Dinah Morris, a Methodist preacher. Adam Bede was Eliot's first long novel. Its masterly realism- -evident, for example, in the recording of Derbyshire dialect--brought to English fiction the same truthful observation of minute detail that John Ruskin was commending in the Pre-Raphaelites. But what was new in this work of English fiction was the combination of deep human sympathy and rigorous moral judgment.
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A mill on the floss
George Eliot

Millfloss.gif (12060 bytes) Novel by George Eliot, published in three volumes in 1860. It sympathetically portrays the vain efforts of Maggie Tulliver to adapt to her provincial world. The tragedy of her plight is underlined by the actions of her brother Tom, whose sense of family honor leads him to forbid her to associate with the one friend who appreciates her intelligence and imagination. When she is caught in a compromising situation, Tom renounces her altogether, but brother and sister are finally reconciled in the end as they try in vain to survive a climactic flood.
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7.6

Evelina
Fanny Burney

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In many ways, novels in the eighteenth century occupied the same position as today's soap operas. In Evelina there are rakes and heroes, farcical episodes, romantic misunderstandings, and serious social commentary - all described through the eighteenth-century convention of a series of letters to and from sweet, pure, beautiful Evelina Anville. Evelina has grown up in seclusion, her sole source of education her guardian, an elderly pastor. Her mother died soon after giving birth to Evelina; her father deserted her mother and has refused to acknowledge their marriage or their child. As the story begins, Evelina leaves her isolated life in the country and goes to London with friends.  

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Once there, she tours the sights, encounters more potential lovers and husbands than seems possible,and meets long-lost relations who demonstrate such a lack of good breeding that poorEvelina is continually on the verge of physical collapse (although morally she stays as constant as Big Ben). This book has something for those who want to know more about London and England in the eighteenth century; something for those who love a good plot twist; something for those who wish for sharply drawn characters and social satire. And something for those of us who are simply curious: how did these people find the time to write such incredibly long letters and still do all the things they describe?

 

7.3

Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Anne Bronte

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Of the three Bronte sisters, Emily and Charlotte are better known, yet it is Anne's work which carries some of the strongest feminist themes. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a devout young woman named Helen falls in love with a man who is handsome, but whose values are questionable; willing to believe she can alter his character, she marries him. Her marriage becomes a misery she has no power to change until she devises a bold plan to take control. Her story comes through two voices - her own and that of Gilbert Markham, a man who falls in love with Helen later in her life - and is told through journals and letters written over a period of time. Because of the privacy and immediacy of these narratives, the reader sees personal changes and attitudes Helen and Gilbert are often unaware of at the time: we witness Helen's first naive protestations of passion for her husband and follow her through her eventual
disillusionment; we recognize Gilbert's early, unconscious egotism. While the plot continues and mysteries are unraveled, what Helen and Gilbert say - as well as what they don't say - provides another story to follow, which reinforces Anne Bronte's indictment of the sexual double standards of nineteenth-century Britain.

 

9.0

The complete works of Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery

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When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island, send for a boy orphan to help them out at the farm, they are in no way prepared for the error that will change their lives. The mistake takes the shape of Anne Shirley, a redheaded 11-year-old girl who can talk anyone under the table. Fortunately, her sunny nature and quirky imagination quickly win over her reluctant foster parents. Anne's feisty spirit soon draws many friends--and much trouble--her way. Not a day goes by without some melodramatic new episode in the tragicomedy of her life.Early on, Anne declares her eternal antipathy for Gilbert Blythe, a classmate whocommits the ultimate sin of mocking her hair
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color. Later, she accidentally dyes that same cursed hair green. Another time, in her haste to impress a new neighbor, she bakes a cake with liniment instead of vanilla. Lucy Maud Montgomery's series of books about Anne have remained classics since the early 20th century. Her portrayal of this feminine yet independent spirit has given generations of girls a strong female role model, while offering a taste of another, milder time in history. This lovely boxed gift collection comprises Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, and Rilla of Ingleside.

 

9.2

Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Annegables.gif (13741 bytes) A classic story of a young orphan who finds a family when she is adopted by a brother and sister living in the small Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne is willful, imaginative, temperamental, and loquacious. She falls in love with the town, but she will need all her charms to adjust to her new life. This is a timeless story of an impetuous girl who grows into a sensitive young woman.
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9.2

Anne of Avonlea
Lucy Maud Montgomery

anneavonlea.gif (5118 bytes) Anne of Green Gables is now teaching at her old school and helping Marilla care for six-year-old twins. It's hard work but Anne still finds time for impulsive behavior --including selling a cranky neighbor's cow. With new friends and her students, Anne still manages to bring love and laughter to everyone she meets.
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9.5

Anne of the Island
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anneisland.gif (5050 bytes) Anne and her friends move into an old cottage where an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide if she's ready for love.
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8.0

Anne of Windy Poplars
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Annepoplars.gif (5758 bytes) Anne Shirley has left Redmond College behind to begin a new job and a new chapter of her life away from Green Gables. Now she faces a new challenge: the Pringles. They're known as the royal family of Summerside - and they quickly let Anne know she is not the person they had wanted as principal of Summerside High School. But as she settles into the cozy tower room at Windy Poplars, Anne finds she has great allies in the widows Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty - and in their irrepressible housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. As Anne learns Summerside's strangest secrets, winning the support of the prickly Pringles becomes only the first of her triumphs.
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8.7

Anne's House of Dreams
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Annedreams.gif (5434 bytes) Gilbert Blythe, is finally a doctor, and in the sunshine of the old orchard, among their dearest friends, he and Anne are about to speak their vows. They will be bound for a new life together and their own dream house on the purple shores of Four Winds.
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8.2

Anne of Ingleside
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anneingle.gif (6222 bytes) Anne is the mother of five, with never a dull moment in her lively home. And now with a new baby on the way and insufferable Aunt Mary Maria visiting -- and wearing out her welcome -- Anne's life is full to bursting. Still Mrs. Doctor can't think of any place she'd rather be than her own beloved Ingleside. Until the day she begins to worry that her adored Gilbert doesn't love her anymore. How could that be? She may be a little older, but she's still the same irrepressible, irreplaceable redhead -- the wonderful Anne of Green Gables, all grown up. . . She's ready to make her cherished husband fall in love with her all over again!
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7.5

Children of the New Forest
Captain Marryat

Childrenforest.gif (14192 bytes) Orphaned when their Royalist father is killed during the Civil War, the
four Beverley children are taken into hiding in a cottage in the New Forest
and disguised as the grandchildren of a poor forester.
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6.5

Coral Island
Robert M. Ballantyne

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7.2

Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe

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(in full The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who Lived Eight and Twenty Years, All Alone in an Un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, Near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having Been Cast on Shore by Shipwreck, Wherein All the Men Perished but Himself. With an Account how he was at last as Strangely Deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself.) Novel by Daniel Defoe, published in 1719. The book is a unique fictional blending of the traditions of Puritan spiritual autobiography with an insistent scrutiny of the nature of men and women as social creatures, and it reveals an extraordinary ability to inventa sustaining modern myth. The title character leaves his comfortable middle-class home in England to go to sea. Surviving shipwreck, he lives on an island for 28 years,

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alone for most of the time until he saves the life of a savage, whom he names Friday. The two men eventually leave the island for England. Defoe probably based part of Crusoe's tale on the real-life experiences of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who at his own request was put ashore on an uninhabited island in 1704 after a quarrel with his captain. He stayed there until 1709. The book was an immediate success in England and on the European continent, and Defoe wrote a sequel (The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe) that was also published in 1719.

 

8.0

Pollyana
Eleanor H. Porter

pollyana.gif (5660 bytes) A beloved and classic tale follows the adventures of an optimistic young
girl who transforms the lives of the somber adults she encounters with her
persistent faith in the ""glad game.""
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8.2

Pollyana Grows up
Eleanor H. Porter

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8.6

Heidi
Johanna Spyri

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Johanna Spyri's classic story of a young orphan sent to live with her grumpy grandfather in the Swiss Alps is retold in it's entirety in this beautifully bound hardcover edition. Heidi has charmed and intrigued readers since it's original publication in 1880. Much more than a children's story, the narrative is also a lesson on the precarious nature of freedom, a luxury too often taken for granted. Heidi almost loses her liberty as she is ripped away from the tranquility of the mountains to tend to a sick cousin in the city. Happily, all's well that ends well, and the reader is left with only warm, fuzzy thoughts. Spryi's story will never grow wearisome--and this is a very appealing edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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