Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry's eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!
Pottermore has now launched the Wizarding World Book Club. Visit Pottermore to sign up and join weekly Twitter discussions at WW Book Club.
"Wickedly funny." --The New York Times
Imagine an England where all the pubs are quaint, where the Windsors behave themselves (mostly), where the cliffs of Dover are actually white, and where Robin Hood and his merry men really are merry. This is precisely what visionary tycoon, Sir Jack Pitman, seeks to accomplish on the Isle of Wight, a "destination" where tourists can find replicas of Big Ben (half size), Princess Di's grave, and even Harrod's (conveniently located inside the tower of London).
Martha Cochrane, hired as one of Sir Jack's resident "no-people," ably assists him in realizing his dream. But when this land of make-believe gradually gets horribly and hilariously out of hand, Martha develops her own vision of the perfect England. Julian Barnes delights us with a novel that is at once a philosophical inquiry, a burst of mischief, and a moving elegy about authenticity and nationality.
Three years old and wrapped in a Union Jack to protect him from the sun, Laurie Lee arrived in the village of Slad in the final summer of the First World War. The cottage his mother had rented for three and sixpence a week had neither running water nor electricity, but it was surrounded by a lovely half-acre garden and, most importantly, it was big enough for the seven children in her care. It was here, in a verdant valley tucked into the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, that Laurie Lee learned to look at life with a painter’s eye and a poet’s heart—qualities of vision that, decades later, would make him one of England’s most cherished authors.
In this vivid recollection of a magical time and place, water falls from the scullery pump “sparkling like liquid sky.” Autumn is more than a season—it is a land eternally aflame, like Moses’s burning bush. Every midnight, on a forlorn stretch of heath, a phantom carriage reenacts its final, wild ride. And, best of all, the first secret sip of cider, “juice of those valleys and of that time,” leads to a boy’s first kiss, “so dry and shy, it was like two leaves colliding in air.”
An instant classic when it was first published in 1959, Cider with Rosie is one of the most endearing and evocative portraits of youth in all of literature. The first installment in an autobiographical trilogy that includes As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War, it is also a heartfelt and lyrical ode to England, and to a way of life that may belong to the past, but will never be forgotten.
This classic tale of medieval adventure not only merges history and fiction with ease, but introduces the world to a host of beloved characters as they are known today, such as Robin Hood and his Merry Men. After declaring his allegiance to the Norman king and seeking to marry against his father’s wishes, the Saxon-born Ivanhoe is banished from England. Torn from his true love, he joins Richard the Lion Heart’s crusade in the Holy Land. Scheming to win Rowena back, Ivanhoe returns home to attend a jousting tournament under the name Desdichado. In the chaos that ensues, however, Ivanhoe is locked in the bitter power struggle between the righteous King Richard and his conniving brother, John.
Wilfred of Ivanhoe is a Saxon loyal to the Norman king Richard I. Because of this loyalty, and his love for Lady Rowena, Ivanhoe is cast out by his father, a Saxon loyalist determined to liberate the Saxon people from Norman rule. He plans to marry Rowena, his ward and a descendant of the Saxon king Alfred, to Lord Aethelstane, pretender to the throne of England. In so doing, Ivanhoe would unite two rival Saxon houses in their claim for the crown. Ivanhoe returns from the Crusades in secret and is joined in his plans to re-establish Richard on the thrown by the moneylender Isaac of York, his daughter Rebecca, the mysterious Black Knight, Lady Rowena, and Robin Hood and his merry men.