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Brought to you by Penguin. Christopher Wood, a beautiful young Englishman, decided to be the greatest painter the world had seen. He went to Paris in 1921. By day he studied, by night he attended the parties of the beau monde. He knew Picasso, worked for Diaghilev and was a friend of Cocteau. In the last months of his 29-year life, he fought a ravening opium addiction to succeed in claiming a place in history of English painting. Richard Hilary, confident, handsome and unprincipled, flew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain before being shot down and horribly burned. He underwent several operations by the legendary plastic surgeon, A H McIndoe. His account of his experiences, The Last Enemy, made him famous, but not happy. He begged to be allowed to return to flying, and died mysteriously in a night training operation, aged 23. Jeremy Wolfenden was born in 1936, the son of Jack, later Lord Wolfenden. Charming, generous and witty, he was the cleverest Englishman of his generation, but left All Souls to become a hack reporter. At the height of the Cold War, he was sent to Moscow where his louche private life made him the plaything of the intelligence services. A terrifying sequence of events ended in Washington where he died at the age of 31. © Sebastian Faulks 1996 (P) Penguin Audio 2021Show more
Brought to you by Penguin. Russia, 1915: At the age of 16, Georgy Jachmenev steps in front of an assassin's bullet intended for the heart of a senior member of the Russian Imperial Family. He is instantly proclaimed a hero. Before the week is out, his life as the son of a peasant farmer is changed forever when he is escorted to St Petersburg to take up his new position - as bodyguard to Alexei Romanov, the only son of Tsar Nicholas II. Sixty five years later, visiting his wife Zoya as she lies dying in a London hospital, memories of the life they have lived together flood his mind. Their marriage, while tender, has been marked by tragedy, the loss of loved ones, and experiences of exile that neither can forget. THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSEis a novel about a young man ripped from a loving home and thrust into the heart of a dying empire. Privy to the secrets of Nicholas and Alexandra, the machinations of Rasputin and the events which led to the final collapse of the autocracy, Georgy is a witness and participant in a drama which will echo down the century. His is also a story of a marriage in which a husband finds it impossible to live in the present and a wife unable to reconcile herself with the past. Part love story, part historical epic, part tragedy, the novel moves from revolutionary St Petersburg to Paris after the First World War, and from London during the Blitz to the eastern coast of Finland during the 1980s, before returning to a quiet hospital bed where Georgy and Zoya's story must finally be resolved. ©John Boyne 2009 (P) Penguin Audio 2020Show more
Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat. Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.Show more
This story of William Crimsworth, who goes to Brussels to seek his fortune and falls in love with Frances, a schoolteacher and lace-maker while he is himself pursued by Madamoiselle Reuter, is a subtle portrayal of a self-made man and his relationships in a society that worships property and propriety.Show more
A beautifully controlled and powerful story of love and conscience, will and desire which begins when a mysterious young girl arrives to take up a post at the seedy H-tel du Lion d'Or in a small French town in the mid-1930s. The Girl at the Lion d'Or is the first book in Sebastian Faulks' French trilogy of novel. Birdsong and Charlotte Gray are also available from Random House Audio Books, read by Samuel West.Show more
George Sherston - the 'I' of the book - is a shy, sensitive, and rather lonely boy living on the Kent/Sussex border in the early years of the 20th century. His great loves are sports, horses and hunting, and the story is told through his gentle and comic adventures at point-to-point races or village cricket matches in a privileged pre-War England. The picture he paints of the Garden of England in the age of pony carts, bicycles and very slow trains is enchanting.Rich in historical detail and resonance, Sassoon's semi-autobiographical novel is also a poignant coming-of-age tale; with innocence and naivety abruptly crushed by the outbreak of War. George has to face a bleakly different world when he joins up and goes to the Front, to the mud and death and din of trench-life. Bit by bit it robs him of practically everything he values in life, and amidst the carnage he loses some of his dearest friends.Show more
A BBC Radio six-part dramatisation of Marcel Proust's groundbreaking series of novels, tracing the extraordinary story of the author's own life. Starring James Wilby and Jonathan Firth, and with a distinguished cast including Harriet Walter, Imogen Stubbs and Corin Redgrave, this rich, multi-layered adaptation brings out all the variety and subtlety of Proust's magnificent masterpiece. Featuring a fictional version of himself - 'Marcel' - and a host of friends, acquaintances and lovers, 'In Search of Lost Time' is Proust's search for the key to the mysteries of memory, time and consciousness. As he recalls his childhood days, the sad affair of Charles Swann and Odette de Crecy, his transition to manhood, the tortures of love and the ravages of war, he realises that the simplest of discoveries can lead to astonishing possibilities. 'Delectable and memorable' - Guardian 'The kind of radio you shoo people out of the room for' - Independent on SundayShow more
From the author of the bestselling Artemis Fowl series comes a heartwarming tale of a young girl who is given a gift--the chance to right her wrongs, and discover the true meaning of life. Meg Finn is in trouble. Unearthly trouble. Cast out of her own home by her stepfather after her mom's death, Meg is a wanderer, a troublemaker. But after her latest stunt, finding a place to sleep is the least of her worries. Belch, Meg's partner in crime, has gotten her involved in an attempt to rob an old man's apartment, and things have gone horribly wrong. After an accidental explosion, both Meg and Belch's spirits are flung into limbo, and a race begins between the demonic and the divine to win Meg's soul. Meg's not such a bad kid, but she hasn't exactly been an angel either, so the tally for her "good" and "evil" deeds are dead even. Her only chance for tipping the scales to salvation is by going back to earth and doing some good--specifically, helping Lowrie, the old guy she tried to rob. He's got a wish list of life regrets to be set right and only so much time to do it. But even if Meg can persuade Lowrie to get mixed up with her, she's going to have to deal with an even scarier, undead Belch who's definitely on the side of the Devil now. With laughs and chills, The Wish List is an exciting tale of life, death, and unexpected hereafter.Show more
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