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Doctor Thorne

Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope

Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope

Doctor Thorne is the third of Trollope’s Barsetshire novels, and unlike some of the others, has little to do with the politics and personalities of the Church of England, or politics on the national level (though there is lots of politicking in the mythical county of Barsetshire itself). The plot revolves around the illegitimate Mary Thorne, who has been lovingly raised by her uncle, a country doctor, and who, as she comes of age, finds herself wondering whether she is a lady (in the county sense of the term). Frank Gresham, son of the squire of Greshamsbury, is in love with her (much against the wishes of his noble de Courcy relatives at the Castle), but she dismisses his affection at first as mere puppy love, thereby setting the scene for a series of entanglements, social, romantic, and of course, financial and propertied (never far from the action in Trollope’s works). Their resolution, of course, makes up the meat of the novel. One critic has remarked that in Doctor Thorne Trollope succeeds in one of the most difficult tasks an author of fiction can face: how to make genuinely good people genuinely interesting, so that they engage not only the sympathies but also the interest of readers.

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The Canterbury Tales, and Other Poems

The Canterbury Tales, and Other Poems by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales, and Other Poems by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer (two of them in prose, the rest in verse). The tales, some of which are originals and others not, are contained inside a frame tale and told by a group of pilgrims on their way from Southwark to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.

The themes of the tales vary, and include topics such as courtly love, treachery, and avarice. The genres also vary, and include romance, Breton lai, sermon, beast fable, and fabliau. The characters, introduced in the General Prologue of the book, tell tales of great cultural relevance.

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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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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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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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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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The Hawk of Egypt

The Hawk of Egypt by Joan Conquest

The Hawk of Egypt by Joan Conquest

A tragic love triangle between a beautiful English girl, an English gentleman, and a half-English, half-Egyptian plays out among the ruins and under the desert stars of 1920s era Egypt. The saga ends, as all love triangles must, in tragedy upon the desert sands.

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Love and Intrigue

Love and Intrigue by Friedrich Schiller

Love and Intrigue by Friedrich Schiller

Ferdinand is an army major and son of President von Walter, a high-ranking noble in a German duke’s court, while Luise Miller is the daughter of a middle-class musician. The couple fall in love with each other, but both their fathers tell them to end their affair. The President instead wants to expand his own influence by marrying Ferdinand to Lady Milford, the duke’s mistress, but Ferdinand rebels against his father’s plan and tries to persuade Luise to elope with him. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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The Ten-foot Chain

The Ten-foot Chain by Achmed Abdullah and others

The Ten-foot Chain by Achmed Abdullah and others

True love is so powerful it can survive anything. Or can it? Four popular authors were lunching with an editor and the question came up: “What mental and emotional reaction would a man and a woman undergo, linked together by a ten-foot chain, for three days and nights?” The 4 very popular authors each had strong but divergent opinions of what would happen to such a couple chained together for 3 days and nights. The result was these fascinating stories. Does true love scoff at the small difficulty of constant proximity? Does being ‘too close’ become an acid that eats away even the bonds of love? What do YOU think would happen if you were to write such a story? Read and find out what these divergent authors think.

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Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd is an 2015 romantic drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and starring Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, and Juno Temple.

Far from the Madding Crowd is Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel and offers Hardy’s growing taste for tragedy. The book features an independent woman with the courage to defy convention. Although Bathsheba’s passionate nature leads her into serious errors of judgment, Hardy endows her with sufficient resilience, intelligence, and good luck to overcome her youthful folly.

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