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Maggie, a Girl of the Streets

Maggie, a Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane

Maggie, a Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane’s first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets has been called “the first dark flower of American Naturalism” for its distinctive elements of naturalistic fiction. The chief character, Maggie, descends into prostitution after being led astray by her lover. Rather than focusing on those that make up the very rich or middle class, the novel highlights the deplorable living conditions of the working class during the so-called Gilded Age in New York’s Bowery.

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Diary of a U-Boat Commander

Diary of a U-Boat Commander by Sir Stephen King-Hall

Diary of a U-Boat Commander by Sir Stephen King-Hall

Captain Karl von Schenk of the Kaiser’s Navy is a stereotypical German nobleman – supremely self-confident, touchy about the divisions of class and any infringement on his place. He thinks he is handsome, has a suitably manly physique, an excellent singing voice, and a facility with writing. His wartime service related in his diary is a series of triumphs over harrowing circumstances, bringing his boat back in spite of the best efforts of the Royal Navy to stop him.

His one vulnerability is a young lady he meets on leave in Bruges, Belgium. Although she is the trophy girlfriend of a German colonel who could cause him much harm if he were to find out, von Schenk pursues his Zoe with Teutonic straightforwardness. And both he and the reader are entirely blind-sided by the unexpected thunderclap that puts an end to the sweet affair.

Stephen King-Hall, a Royal Navy officer during the war and writing as “Etienne”, penned this book as if he had simply discovered it on a surrendered submarine. In fact, some editions of the book list the author as “anonymous.” King-Hall’s knowledge of naval affairs lend authority to this yarn of men that go to the sea in ships that sink… on purpose.

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The Golden Bowl

The Golden Bowl  by Henry James

The Golden Bowl by Henry James

The Golden Bowl is a novel by Henry James. Set in England, this complex, intense study of marriage and adultery completes what some critics have called the “major phase” of James’ career. The Golden Bowl explores the tangle of interrelationships between a father and daughter and their respective spouses. The novel focuses deeply and almost exclusively on the consciousness of the central characters, with sometimes obsessive detail but also with powerful insight.

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The Carved Cupboard

The Carved Cupboard by Amy Le Feuvre

The Carved Cupboard by Amy Le Feuvre

Agatha, Gwen, Clare and Elfie have always been told that they will inherit their aunt’s house. But when their aunt dies, she leaves it all to their intolerable cousin James. What will they do? Will the verses Nannie gives them prove true?

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Miss Mackenzie

Miss Mackenzie by Anthony Trollope

Miss Mackenzie by Anthony Trollope

The thirty-five year-old (hence utterly over-the-hill) Miss Margaret Mackenzie, having devoted her life to others, suddenly finds herself with no one to care for, and in possession of a moderate fortune. Having money, she is now much sought-after and no longer universally deemed too old to marry. Partly because she has spent her life taking care of the brother whose money she has now inherited, she has no experience of wealth or popularity. Miss Mackenzie is the definition of “other-oriented. These circumstances are the perfect set-up for classic Trollopian swipes and snipes at various fortune-hunters and other obsequies, and more broadly at society’s sexism, classism, and Mammonism. She comes into her own and begins to try to enjoy life, at first juggling, but ultimately rejecting, three serious suitors. As the story unfolds, the particulars of her deceased brother’s life and death reveal themselves, Miss Mackenzie becomes increasingly able to know who she is and what she wants, and both she and the reader are better able to discern the true colors of those around her. The question is: Will her self-knowledge overcome both her personal history and various social prejudices, so as to allow her to fall in love with – and say “yes” to – a really good man?

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Theo

Theo by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Theo by Frances Hodgson Burnett

It’s described as “A sprightly love story” and it is written by F. H. Burnett, “one of the most charming among American writers!”

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Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini

Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini

Cellini’s autobiographical memoirs, which he began writing in Florence in 1558, give a detailed account of his singular career, as well as his loves, hatreds, passions, and delights, written in an energetic, direct, and racy style. They show a great self-regard and self-assertion, sometimes running into extravagances which are impossible to credit. He even writes in a complacent way of how he contemplated his murders before carrying them out.

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Carmilla

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla is a Gothic novel by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu. It tells the story of a young woman’s susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named Carmilla. Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by over twenty years, had a strong influence on Stoker’s famous novel.

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The Pretty Lady

The Pretty Lady by Arnold Bennett

The Pretty Lady by Arnold Bennett

The Pretty Lady’ is considered to be one of Bennett’s most revealing and under-rated works. It is the story of a French prostitute, Christine, who has escaped from wartime Ostend, and set herself up in business in London. Though a refugee, she demands no pity; she is self-sufficient, practical and realistic. Christine is not a harpy preying on innocent soldiers, but a canny businesswoman, doing the best she can with the opportunities life has given her. Her main relationship is with G.J. Hoape, a wealthy man above the military age. Bennett in this novel presents a disturbing image of wartime society, fragmented, uneasy and divided. There are references to industrial unrest and to social injustices, and hints that the British press is less than frank about the war.

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An International Episode

An International Episode by Henry James

An International Episode by Henry James

Two men visiting the US from London meet a pair of charming women who return the visit the following year in London. Romantic intrigues, miscommunication and cultural faux pas abound in this short but delightful novel.

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