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Sophia, married to famous German archaeologist, Heinrich Obermann, works together with him on a dig in Turkey believed to be the site of ancient Troy. As Sophie embraces his enthusiasm, she equally becomes suspicious of his past, heightened by the death of a visiting American archeologist. The site’s validity is questioned by a second visiting British archeologist but in spite these doubts, Obermann’s claims grow stronger. Sophia must choose between her husband’s fantasized history of Troy and scientific objectivity. Ackroyd vividly recreates the world of the nineteenth century archeologist working piece by piece to claim the past. For Obermann, it is a landscape inspired by his poetic vision of the great Homeric epic, but how far will a man of science go to change the facts to fit his fantasy?
From the moment she is struck by lightning as a child and survives the ordeal, it is clear that Mary Anning is destined for greatness. When Mary uncovers a ‘crocodile’ fossil on the beach near her home, she and her new friend and fellow fossil enthusiast, Elizabeth Philpot, set the academic world alight with their joint fossil finds. Both challenge ideas about the world’s creation and origins of species, an intellectual forum dominated almost exclusively by men. Wielding clever, subtle subversive prose, Ms Chevalier has composed a feminist odyssey into the heart of Victorian misogyny, poking quiet fun at the pomposity and vanity of male ‘expert’ collectors, while applauding the vigilance and diligence of the women ‘hunters’ who do the work. This novel is based on the real life of Mary Anning, an eminent scientist, whose findings influenced Darwin but faced prejudice in the male dominated society she worked in.
Life is an endless landscape of concrete and run-down tenements for Esperanza Cordero as she struggles to rise above the hopelessness surrounding her. Told in a series of six vignettes that range from heartbreaking to deeply joyous, this is an uplifting story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, who manages to invent who she is. Beneath Cisnero’s lyrical prose lies a rich network of themes including poverty, child abuse, spousal abuse, the importance of education and a chronicle of the triumph of will. This is a beautiful, timeless story about growing up that everyone can relate to and is a masterpiece of Latino literature.
Set in biblical times under the scorching Middle Eastern sun, four travellers enter the Judean desert in search of redemption. Amid the barren rocks and scattered caves, the travellers meet a dangerous merchant called Musa and his pregnant wife, Mira. Musa is a deeply troubled man who takes his anger out on women, particularly the good-hearted and intelligent Mira. Into their path enters Martha who hopes that quarantine in the desert will cure her childlessness with a miracle conception. In the shadows, however, lurks another figure, Jesus, who has entered the desert to purge himself of all his bodily needs with the aid of an extremely brutal fasting ritual. Crace brilliantly juxtapositions each character in an ingenious and beguiling retelling of the biblical Temptation of Jesus with the licentious Musa as the devil. The result is a modern and personal slant on the devil as well as insight into the plight of Jesus and the bodily dilemmas he embodies and hopes to resolve and redeem.
Henry Fleming is a farm boy who goes straight into the battlefields of the American Civil War as a foot soldier. He gives an account of his firsthand experiences of this war and through his eyes we see flashes of vivid and raw combat, which shatter the lofty platitudes of heroism and patriotism that are expounded by the Union Army. The reader follows Henry’s struggle to abandon his preconceptions of courage when he flees the battlefield and then witnesses the gruesome death of a friend. While war rages around him, Henry must separate what he once believed from his own experiences and, amidst rage and confusion, piece together a whole new role model of courage for himself. In doing so, he is forced into a true act of heroism.
When the elevator brings Thomas to the Glade, he cannot remember anything besides his name. He is now the newest member of a self-contained community of teenage boys who grow their own food, make their own rules, some fair, some dubious, and try to find an escape through the concrete maze that surrounds them. They even create their own slang as new words to express their terror and disgust. Thomas knows that the Glade is somehow familiar and that he wants to be a runner, one of the boys who bravely explore the maze which opens, rotates and shuts its doors at certain times of the day. The day after Thomas arrives, the elevator delivers a girl bearing a cryptic note which he feels is connected to the maze and the escape route through it.
In the 1970’s in the U.S. Midwest, narrator-heroine Rosemary is separated from her beloved ‘twin’ sister, Fern, and sent, aged five, for a week's visit to her grandparents. She senses that she has committed a heinous crime, but on her return, it is the thrill-seeking Fern who has been dispatched, never to be seen again, without explanation. Rosemary's missing sister, Fern, was a chimpanzee. The girls' imposed ‘twin‑ sisterhood’ was part of an animal-human behaviour experiment conducted for five years by their psychologist father, before being abruptly terminated. However it is Rosemary's problems as a young adult, influenced by her ‘simian’ past, that pose the question - who and what is she?
‘The Collector’ is the dark and disturbing story of Frederick Clegg, a desperately lonely man, withdrawn from society and unable to form relationships. Instead, he collects things, mainly butterflies, and enjoys photography, thus observing life rather than taking part in it himself. Frederick becomes obsessed with a beautiful, young art student, Miranda, and unable to make normal social contact, he plans to collect her, as one of his butterflies. So one evening, he calmly abducts her with the unwavering belief that she will both understand and learn to love him. Telling the story from both Frederick’s and Miranda’s perspective, Fowles creates two entirely different voices and, therefore, we are given a chilling insight into the dark world that Frederick has created for himself and his captive. An archetypical tale of good and evil!
Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen year old teenager with terminal cancer, is reluctant to go to a support group, but changes her mind when she meets a boy named Augustus Waters. Augustus has had a rare form of bone cancer which has recently abated. Hazel and Augustus begin a romantic relationship while searching for the meaning of existence as well as for the reclusive author of their favourite book. Their love story is as real as it is doomed and the genuine humour of the novel makes its luminous final pages all the more moving. This affecting but unsentimental story provokes reflection on questions which any healthy teenagers might ask: Where do I find the courage to deal with physical and emotional pain? How can I create feelings of self-worth? How do I find value in my life and relationships?
Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen has spent years loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman, his former next-door neighbour, from afar. So when, years later, she cracks open a window late one night and climbs into his life again dressed like a Ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge, he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo has vanished, not for the first time. But Q soon finds out that there are clues and he is pleasantly surprised to learn that Margo left them for him.
Seen through the eyes of its eight-year-old narrator Scout, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning book To Kill a Mockingbird follows the events that fractured the small town of 1930’s Maycomb, Alabama, triggered by the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Scout, who lives with her brother Jem and widowed father Atticus, a lawyer, leads a fairly carefree childhood, going to school, playing with Jem and summer neighbor, Dill Harris, and conspiring to spot Boo Radley, the mysterious recluse living in the house down the street. But these everyday routines are interrupted when Atticus takes on the defense case of the accused black man, Tom Robinson.
This penetrating and pertinent novel about children’s rights is a multifaceted exploration of hope and the tragic loss of it. Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge presiding over cases in the family court. She decides the future of each child under eighteen who enters her jurisdiction and often rules against parental wishes. Fiona is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. Her success as a judge, however, is offset by marital strife because she has dedicated her life to her work, never found the time to have children or offer her husband the sexual passion he now threatens to find elsewhere. Into her court steps the complex case of a gifted seventeen year old, Adam Henry, who is suffering from leukaemia but he and his devout Jehovah Witness parents refuse an urgent blood transfusion to save his life because it goes against their biblical teaching.
This moving novel from award winning children’s laureate, Michael Morpurgo, takes place during the Second World War. It tells the poignant story of the loyal relationship between a boy and his horse before and during their war experiences. Morpurgo relates the grueling hardship of a working horse in battle and the separation of the boy from his horse for the sake of the war effort, duty and country which adds to the emotional suspense. ‘War Horse,’ also sensitively portrays the fate of children and animals sacrificed by the atrocities of war.
Fifteen year old Daisy is a sharp, sarcastic New Yorker whose only weapon against oblivion is food deprivation. Fleeing a disinterested father, an abusive stepmother and an eating disorder, she travels from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she has never met. On their ramshackle farm, she allows herself to love them, particularly her cousin Edmond. When her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives, the following day London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. When electricity fails, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it is a kind of Eden with no adults in charge and no rules, though soon the children’s idyllic adventures are interrupted by the chaos of the conflict and they are forced to go on the run in search of food and water.
Gorgeous, young and innocent, Dorian Gray is being painted by his friend, Basil Hallward, when he meets Lord Henry Wotton, a decadent, disillusioned hedonist. Lord Henry manages to influence Dorian, so totally changing his outlook that Dorian eventually wishes he could trade his soul to remain as young and beautiful as he appears in the portrait. When his selfish and ruthless life takes hold, the moral decline is alarmingly exhibited in his portrait which turns ugly. Wilde’s timeless classic explores fundamental moral questions, never more relevant in a society where beauty, youth and the pursuit of fun are increasingly over-valued.
Taking part in her family’s Passover Seder fills thirteen-year old Hannah Stern with dread; hearing about her relatives’ Holocaust experiences embarrasses and annoys her. When Hannah opens the door to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah during the ceremony, however, she suddenly finds herself in a Polish village in 1942. She tries to understand why she is there and who the mysterious ‘Chaya’ is that everyone seems to thinks she is. When Nazi soldiers come to deport the Jews to the ‘Devil’s Camp’, she encounters a friend named Rivka, who helps her survive. Jews are surrounded by danger with every step they take and when three girls are to be chosen for ‘processing’, Hannah takes Rivka’s place, stepping through the gates that will lead to her death. Will Hannah get back to the future in time?