“This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met.” -- J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series
Dorothy Gladys "Dodie" Smith, born in 1896 in Lancashire, England, was one of the most successful female dramatists of her generation. She wrote Autumn, Crocus, and Dear Octopus, among other plays. I Capture the Castle, her first novel, was written in the 1940s while she was living in America. An immediate success, it marked her crossover from playwright to novelist, and was produced as a play in 1954. Smith also wrote the novels The Town in Bloom, It Ends with Revelations, A Tale of Two Families, and The Girl in the Candle-Lit Bath, but she is best known today as the author of two highly popular stories for young readers: The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking. She died in 1990.
At the age of eighteen, Lucy Gayheart heads for Chicago to study music. She is beautiful and impressionable and ardent, and these qualities attract the attention of Clement Sebastian, an aging but charismatic singer who exercises all the tragic, sinister fascination of a man who has renounced life only to turn back to seize it one last time. Out of their doomed love affair—and Lucy's fatal estrangement from her origins—Willa Cather creates a novel that is as achingly lovely as a Schubert sonata.
BONUS: The edition includes an excerpt from The Selected Letters of Willa Cather.
Mouse never did fully suit her nickname. Tiny she may have been, but timid never. After less than twenty-four hours in London she had bluffed her way into an audition at a famous theatre, infuriated its forceful young stage director, and amused its kind if quite amoral actor-manager. She had finally landed not a part but a toehold as a junior secretary. During her involvement in the engrossing affairs of the Crossway Theatre she met her friends Molly, a baby-faced six-footer; and elegant, ambitious Lilian, who was fated to clash disastrously with Mouse. Later, there was also Zelle, rich, generous, enigmatic, and responsible for an outing to Suffolk village pageant which proved a turning point for them all.
Life was always surprising the fearless Mouse: when she unexpectedly got to a chance to act she made an unforgettable impression, though not the one she had intended. However, nothing prepared her for the assault of first love, highly unsuitable, but welcomed by her in a way which was to have far-reaching consequences.
Only when she looks back after a reunion luncheon does she realise the full effects of that shared summer on her friends and herself. A startlingly frank yet nostalgic read, this is a charming novel about coming of age and the healing effects of time.
When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. At the aptly-named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lustful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years. But Flora loves nothing better than to organise other people. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand. A hilarious and ruthless parody of rural melodramas and purple prose, Cold Comfort Farm is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time.
'Screamingly funny and wildly subversive' Marian Keyes, Guardian
The Penguin Classics edition of Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm is introduced by Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
If you enjoyed Cold Comfort Farm you might like George and Weedon Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody, also available in Penguin Classics.