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The compelling new family drama from the nation’s favourite storyteller. Florence Stanville is a woman with a past. When she moves to Guisethorpe on the east coast of England, the townsfolk are intrigued by the glamorous and mysterious stranger, with her flame-red hair and abrupt manners. Florence doesn’t care about the gossips – she’s drawn to the peaceful seaside town by the pull of her childhood, when she lived for a brief but happy time with her beloved late mother. The riddle of those days remains and now Florence can only snatch at half-remembered memories and shadowy figures in her dreams. As Florence is reluctantly drawn into the lives of her new neighbours, the layers of her own life are revealed, though it’s clear not everyone wishes her well. Far from finding peace, Florence has found instead turmoil and secrets. Can she put the pieces of her past together, or will it remain a closed book forever…?Show more
Don’t miss the new book from Sunday Times bestselling author, Josephine Cox! The pretty Arnold sisters have grown up on their father’s farm and yearn for something more out of life than drudgery and toil. Ellen, loyal and honest, is her father’s favourite, but Georgina is impulsive and unreliable, and can’t please a father who has never shown her love. The big house, Grindle Hall, offers them both a chance of betterment, but while Ellen follows the steady path, Georgina takes a darker road and soon, her actions will have fateful consequences for them all. Only Ellen can help them, but will a sister’s love be enough?Show more
The new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Josephine Cox - the master storyteller. Finding a new beginning means taking the hardest road...but the journey is where you find your true courage. Torn away from their beloved home, the journey for the Carter family has just begun... In the middle of the night, Evie is torn away from her beloved home and close-knit community, as her family run away to the south. Her father's luck has finally run out but, what should mark a hopeful new beginning, is just the start of young Evie's troubles. With the weight of her family's future on her shoulders, Evie has no-one to turn to. Her mother, worn down by life, runs off with a new man, and with her grandmother's sight failing, it's left to Evie to earn their keep and run the house. Holding her family together is only made harder when tragedy strikes at its heart. A lost letter from home means that Evie's only hope of a happy ending has been dashed, but she's determined to make a new future for herself and find her own fortune in life. Praise for Josephine Cox 'Cox's talent as storyteller never lets you escape the spell' Daily Mail 'Family secrets threaten to ruin everything in this beautiful tale of love and sadness' Woman's Own 'Another masterpiece' BestShow more
The bestselling author of Catherine de Medici returns to sixteenth-century Europe in this evocative and entertaining biography that recreates a remarkable era of French history and brings to life a great monarch-Francis I-who turned France into a great nation. Catherine de Medici's father-in-law, King Francis of France, was the perfect Renaissance knight, the movement's exemplar and its Gallic interpreter. An aesthete, diplomat par excellence, and contemporary of Machiavelli, Francis was the founder of modern France, whose sheer force of will and personality molded his kingdom into the first European superpower. Arguably the man who introduced the Renaissance to France, Francis was also the prototype Frenchman-a national identity was modeled on his character. So great was his stamp, that few countries even now are quite so robustly patriotic as is France. Yet as Leonie Frieda reveals, Francis did not always live up to his ideal; a man of grand passions and vision, he was also a flawed husband, father, lover, and king. With access to private archives that have never been used in a study of Francis I, Frieda explores the life of a man who was the most human of the monarchs of the period-and yet, remains the most elusive. Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.Show more
One of the most passionate novels of its time, Jane Eyre derives its strength from the honesty and directness of its heroine. The first person narrative involves us right from the start, letting us into Jane's thoughts as she matures from rebellious child to passionate woman. Notice how social snobbery is condemned - particularly in the character of Aunt Reed and the conditions at Lowood 'Orphans Asylum'. Listen how the writer builds her climaxes - most notably in Rochester's famous proposal scene. Notice, also, how Jane rises above her unhappy beginnings to gain Rochester's love. And, finally, revel in the story's ending - one of the most moving conclusions to a love story ever written.Show more
When a beautiful young woman, thought to be recently widowed, suddenly moves into the half ruined Wildfell Hall with her five year old son, young squire Gilbert Markham and the local residents are intrigued. Gilbert meets the aloof newcomer Helen Graham by chance, falls in love with her, and she with him. Their passion is held in check by her mysterious relationship with the handsome but cruel Arthur Huntingdon. Her dramatic flight from him is revealed in her journal - a story within a story. 1. A MYSTERIOUS STRANGER. Wildfell Hall, long unoccupied, now has tenants - a beautiful young artist and her child. Mrs. Markham, a neighbour, and her daughter Helen Graham, the new arrival, but are snubbed. In church, Gilbert Markham decides that he prefers Helen at a distance. Soon after, he rescues Arthur, her small son, from a tree. Helen appears hostile, but a month later Gilbert visits her socially. In Helen's studio he examines her painting while she is out of the room. He turns over one which is facing the wall and admires the portrait of a handsome man. 2. LOVE'S CROSSED PURPOSES. As the months pass, Gilbert and Helen become ever closer friends. He is upset, however, by the scandalous gossip which is beginning to circulate about her, the result of her reticence about herself. One evening, he offers to defend her reputation and proposes marriage, but she refuses him. She hints at secrets to be told and warns him that her formal life may shock him. A meeting at the moor is arranged when Helen will divulge her past to Gilbert. He leaves, ecstatic that she loves him, but turning back for one last look, overhears her talking intimately to Frederick Lawrence, the owner of the hall. Furious, Gilbert refuses to see Helen. 3. A YOUNG GIRL'S STORY. Gilbert reads in her diary that as a young girl Helen was brought up by her aristocratic relatives. In London her uncle's rich and odious acquaintances makes unwelcome advances and this upsets her. One evening, however, she meets debonair and handsome Arthur Huntington, and soon he is courting her. Helen falls in love with him, but he makes her miserable by teasing her and seeming to prefer the pretty coquette Annabelle Wilmot. Finally, having reduced Helen to tears, he proposes. 4. MISERY. Helen's uncle consents to marriage because Arthur is rich, but her aunt has reservations. Helen becomes Mrs. Huntingdon of Grassdale manor, but is quickly disappointed in her marriage. Arthur lacks her intellectual interests and is miserable when he cannot hunt. He treats her in cavalier way and shocks her with stories of his former affairs. Two months into their marriage, a joint visit to London proves joyless. Arthur becomes dissipated and asks Helen to return to Grassdale Manor without him. Only her baby son gives Helen any pleasure. 5. BETRAYED. Arthur continues to be absent from home for much of the time. When he does return, he is restless and drinks. He expects Helen to be at his beck and call, and even refuses to let her attend her father's funeral. Arthur invites a party of his drinking cronies to the Manor. With them come Lord Lowborough and his new wife Annabelle, nee Wilmot. Oddly, Arthur drinks less while his guest are staying. Pleased at this, Helen overhears one of them apparently talking about her hold on Arthur. Out in the garden at dusk, she happily surprises her husband with an embrace. He grasps her, first in passion then in strange horror. Next day, she sees Arthur and Annabelle clasped together on the shrubbery. Appalled at such betrayal, Helen confronts Arthur. He bluntly refuses her request for a divorce and she swears henceforth to be his wife only in name. 6. ESCAPE AND RETURN. Helen's diary ends with an account of her escape to Wildfell Hall, a sanctuary provided by Frederick Lawrence, her brother. Gilbert then revisits Helen but is desolated by her announcement that they must never meet again, for she remains a married woman. Later, he discovers that she has left Wildfell Hall. He calls on Frederick for an explanation and is told that Helen has returned to nurse Arthur, who has been seriously injured in a riding accident. Frederick then gives Gilbert a letter he has received from his sister. 7. DEATH AT RAKE. Helen's note relates that far from being glad to see her, Arthur at first takes her for an evil phantom. He mocks her Christian faith, while at the same time voicing his fear of death and damnation. His misery rouses her pity, but he is too lost in terror to heed her attempts at spiritual comfort. A second letter tells of Arthur's bitter death. 8. HAPPY ENDINGS. Before Helen returns to Wildfell Hall, her uncle dies, bequeathing her Staningley, his estate. While there Helen collapses from exhaustion. Gilbert sets out to visit her. As the coach approaches the estate, he learns from a passenger the extent of Helen's new wealth. He is embarrassed by his relativity modest affluence, and is hesitating at the gates of the estate when a carriage sweeps past. In it are little Arthur and Helen, who invite him to the house. Love overcomes his reticence, but this time it is Helen who proposes to Gilbert. Soon afterwards, they are married.Show more
In this chillingly memorable tale, Henry James employed his trademark subtlety and ambiguity to create a masterpiece of double meanings. The novel is written in a strangely complex form; a narrative by a governess, which is introduced by another narrator, who recounts the story to a party of house guests. Through all the twists and turns of the plot, the brooding sense of ghostly evil and menace deepens until the final crisis point is reached. Even then, the difference between truth and illusion is impossible to discern. 1. OLD MEMOIRS. At a house party, the host, Douglas, tells him guests about meeting a governess, whom he found attractive, and how she confided in him. Then the reading of her memoirs commences. She is bowled over at meeting her prospective employer in his grand Harley Street house and, despite initial qualms about rural solitude, agrees to take on the post of governess at Bly, the country house that is home to his two wards. When she arrives, however, Bly appears delightful. She also likes Mrs Grose, the housekeeper, and Flora seems enchanting. 2. ENCOUNTERS GOOD AND BAD. The governess's joy is blighted by a letter from Miles' boarding school, which announces that he has been expelled. She consults Mrs Grose, who declares that he must be innocent. The governess learns a little about the fate of her predecessor, but all is forgotten in the excitement of Miles' arrival. He is even more delightful than his sister. One evening, wandering in the garden, the governess sees a strange man at the top of the tower of the house and assumes that he must be an intruder. 3. EVIL APPARITION. About to go out one day, the governess sees through the window the face of the man she first noticed at the top of the tower. She rushes out but cannot find him; instead she startles Mrs Grose. The housekeeper is stunned by the governess's description of the intruder, which matches that of Peter Quint, the master's former valet. This devious, evil man had been in charge of Bly - and has since died. 4. A WOMAN IN BLACK. Valiantly, the governess vows to protect the children from the ghost's evil intentions. In the days that follow, she learns that Quint died in the suspicious circumstances on the way home from an evening's drinking. She boldly continues with her plan to screen the children from him. Then, while out in the ground with Flora, the governess sees a women dressed in black gazing fixedly across the lake at the child. She is oppressed by the sense of evil the woman radiates and is alarmed that Flora seems to be pretending not to have seen her. When she next sees Mrs Grose, the governess tells her that she is sure it was Miss Jessel that she saw and learns that her predecessor was thought to have borne Quint's child. The governess is convinced that the children are aware of both Miss Jessel's and Peter Quint's ghosts, and soon after meets Quint again - this time inside the house. 5. INNOCENCE CORRUPTED. Woken by Flora getting up in the night, the governess sees her staring out of the window at Miles, who is on the lawn looking up at the house. When the governess brings him in, he tells her that he did it just to show how 'bad' he could be. She is baffled by his admission, but tells Mrs Grose her suspicions; that the children are regularly in contact with Quint and Miss Jessel and have already been corrupted by them. She decides to write to her employer, but before she posts the letter, Miles charms her completely by playing the piano for her. 6. LAKESIDE DISASTER. Realising that Flora has gone out alone, the governess goes to Mrs Grose and the two set out in pursuit. They find her on the far side of the lake, totally unconcerned. When the governess confronts her, asking her where Miss Jessel is, the ghost suddenly appears. Triumphant, the governess points her out, but Mrs Grose cannot see the ghost. Flora cannot -or will not - see Miss Jessel either and she turns violently against her governess. Mrs Grose takes the distraught child back to the house, leaving the governess alone with grief and horror. 7. DEPARTURE FROM BLY. Back in the house, Miles comes to the governess and sits wordlessly with her two hours, as if about to disclose a secret, but he remains silent. The next morning, Mrs Grose wakes her with the news Flora is ill with a fever and is deliriously abusing her in language she should never have known, which confirms the governess's fears that the children have been influenced by Quint. Mrs Grose takes Flora away to London and reveals that the letter the governess wrote to their employer, and left on the hall table to be posted, has been stolen - obviously by Miles. She believes that theft was the reason for his expulsion from school. 8. FINAL CRISIS. Alone with Miles, the governess is determined to force him to tell her the truth about the stolen letter and his crime at school. The instant she questions him, she sees Peter Quint's ghost appear at the window. Miles confesses that he took the letter and was expelled from school for the thing he had said. He is unable to see the ghost although he looks for it desperately. The governess clutches him in her arms, believing that his confession means he is at last free of Quint. Her triumph however is short-lived, for his heart has stopped.Show more
The story of Villette is told in flashback by Lucy Snowe, who tells of the trials of her young self first in England, and then in Belgium. Charlotte Bronte does not paint a romantic picture of an unsupported woman's life ? her heroine has to endure straitened circumstances, insecurity and humiliation. However, despite everything that happens to her, Lucy is a warm and courageous character who makes the most of the opportunities that occur. The love and fulfilment which are readily available to her younger, prettier and richer charges are not quite outside her reach, but it is clear to the reader that for her to achieve them cannot be easy. 1. A Lonely Observer - A tiny visitor - Attachments formed. Lucy Snowe, a young orphan, is spending some time at the home of her godmother, Mrs Bretton, when a little girl unexpectedly arrives. Paulina Mary Home ? or 'Polly' ? has just lost her mother and is waiting for her father to take her to the Continent. The child's sadness abates when Mrs Bretton's 16-year-old son John 'Graham' Bretton arrives. He fondly teases Polly, and when word comes that her father is to take her away, she is desolate and wonders if she will ever see Graham again. 2. Into the Unknown - No turning back - An unexpected friendship. Lucy returns home to her relations. During the following eight years, she loses contact with the Brettons who have lost their money and moved away. Lucy, forced to make her own way in the world, travels to London. Then, feeling that she has nothing to lose, she boldly books a passage to Boue-marine in the kingdom of Labassecour. On board ship, Lucy meets the headstrong yet charming Ginevra Fanshawe who is on her way back to Madame Beck's school in Villette. Ginevra tells Lucy about a vacancy at the school and suggests she apply. After a troubled night, Lucy sets off for Villette. 3. Sanctuary - Gainfully employed - A happy reunion. Arriving in the town of Villette late in the evening, Lucy presents herself to Madame Beck, explaining that she is in great need of work. Monsieur Paul, Madame Beck's cousin and a teacher at the school, approves her appointment At first, Lucy is engaged as a nursery governess, but when the English teacher fails to turn up for his classes, she is given his position instead. Meanwhile, Ginevra Fanshawe confides in Lucy that she has a suitor, but she does not wish to marry him because she is too young, when the school is stricken with illness, the doctor is called. Lucy is stunned when the physician turns out to be Graham Bretton, who is also Ginevra's suitor. He takes Lucy to convalesce with his mother at their house in the country. 4. Among Friends - Confidantes once more - A sparkling occasion. Mrs Bretton and Lucy happily catch up on old times. Graham soon confides his feelings for Ginevra and his doubts about his ability to win her favours. He takes little notice of Lucy's attempts to reassure him on the matter. Her godmother decides that Lucy should have a new dress, and invites her to a concert at which she can wear it. The glamorous event is attended by a number of Madame Beck's pupils, as well as members of the royal family. 5. Change of Heart - A lover betrayed - Picnic at the theatre. During the concert, Graham Bretton's eyes remain on Ginevra. She, however, is interested in die Count de Hamal. This upsets Dr Bretton, to the extent that his feelings for her are irrevocably altered. Lucy returns to school, .and is pleasantly surprised when Graham soon arrives to take her to the theatre. Suddenly, the smell of smoke brings panic. Graham calmly rescues a young girl from the ensuing stampede. He takes her back to her hotel and tends to her injured shoulder. 6. Humiliation - A painful understanding. Ginevra Fanshawe scornfully tells Lucy that she has seen a Miss Paulina de Bassompierre ? her cousin ? with Graham and Mrs Bretton. To her shock, Lucy discovers that this person is the young girl Graham rescued ? and the little Polly who stayed with Mrs Bretton long ago. On Monsieur Paul's birthday, when the girls give him flowers, Lucy is unaware of the custom. Berated by Madame Beck and humiliated by Monsieur Paul in front of the school, she cannot bring herself to go forward and give him the shell-box she has made instead. Later, she finds him putting some books in her desk as a gift and her anger melts. 7. Love Stories - Friends again - True character revealed. Monsieur Paul asks Lucy why she ignored the school's custom, but when she presents him with the shell-box, he is greatly moved. Graham and Paulina marry, to Lucy's joy. Soon after, Lucy is asked to deliver a birthday gift to the ungrateful Madame Walravens. At her home, she meets an old priest who tells Lucy the story of one of his pupils whose fiancée, Justine Marie, died. This pupil now financially supports the priest and Madame Walravens, the grandmother of the dead girl. Lucy is shaken to hear that this benefactor is Monsieur Paul. Further shocks ensue when Ginevra elopes with the Count de Hamal. 8. Dreams Come True - Love at last - The future planned. Madame Beck breaks the startling news that Monsieur Paul is to go abroad. Lucy is distraught and realizes her true feelings. She recalls how she had confided her dreams to him. When Monsieur Paul comes to say goodbye, Madame Beck blocks their meeting. However, he leaves Lucy a note saying they will meet and after an unbearable delay, Monsieur Paul comes to see her. He takes Lucy to a pretty building, which has her name on it. She is to be the proprietress of a school ? and when he returns from his travels they will begin a life together.Show more
The new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Josephine Cox - the master storyteller.Sometimes you just need the courage to tell the truth...Although she's surrounded by a loving family, Marie feels lost: living with a lie can be very lonely. Marie has been carrying a secret for years, one that could ruin the lives of those she loves most, and the guilt she feels weighs heavily. Her granddaughter, Cathy, is a most cheerful young woman, and in the first flush of love. The secret Marie is about to tell her will not only change her future but rewrite her past. Cathy now has a dangerous choice to make that could change her life forever.As far as everyone can see Cathy's future sister-in-law, Beth, has a happy life and a good marriage, but she's heartbreakingly sad. One day, perhaps she'll be brave enough to speak out and run away...Secrets at the heart of a family can last a lifetime... but it's the love of a family that can set you free.Show more
The new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Josephine Cox gets straight to the hope and heartbreak of family drama.One fateful night changes the course of a child's life forever...Rosie's mother is a cruel woman and has Rosie's kind and loving father wrapped around her finger. Though John Tanner does his best to protect her, Rosie often bears the brunt of her mother's rage.And his protection can't last forever.In one tragic moment Rosie's fragile world is shattered. Grieving and alone, Rosie is thrust into a harsh reality, and she must face the obstacles that fate has set in her path.But secrets will out, and Rosie must uncover the shocking truth behind her mother's cruelty before she can hope for the love and happiness she deserves.Show more
"This novel catches fire." --New York Times She set men's hearts on fire and scandalized a country. An ambitious, stunning, and seductive young woman, Mary Anne finds the single most rewarding way to rise above her station: she will become the mistress to a royal duke. In doing so, she provokes a scandal that rocks Regency England. A vivd portrait of sex, ambition, and corruption, Mary Anne is set during the Napoleonic Wars and based on Daphne du Maurier's own great-great-grandmother.Show more
On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.Show more
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