Unpublished Charlotte Bronte story and poem unearthed

Charlotte BronteAn unpublished story and poem by Charlotte Bronte has been discovered in a much-loved book owned by her mother, Maria Bronte.

Maria died when her six children – including the authors Emily, Anne and Charlotte – were very young. Among her possessions was a copy of Robert Southey’s The Remains of Henry Kirke White, which the Bronte Society maintains was “much-treasured” by the family. It was in this book that Charlotte’s unpublished works were found, along with other sketches, annotations and markings by other family members.

Charlotte’s pieces have been dated to 1883, when Charlotte would have been 17. The story she penned runs to 74 lines; the poem to 77 lines.

This particular copy of Southey’s book has traversed the world. The Bronte family sold the book after the death of Charlotte’s father, Patrick, in 1861. It travelled from the family home in Hawthorn, UK to the US, where it eventually settled with an American book collector. The book is set to return home and go on display at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth sometime in 2016.

The story and poem authored by Charlotte mentions the world Angria that she and her brother Branwell imagined. The story features embezzling from a chapel, a public flogging and focuses on Mary Percy, the lovesick wife of the king of Angria.

Historians, museum folk and fans of the classics are having a field day.


View other books by Charlotte Bronte here!

BOOK REVIEW: Silas Marner by George Eliot (Review by John Purcell)

George EliotThis short novel used to be taught in schools. And I can see why. It is short. It is entertaining.

And it is short.

Teachers have always had trouble getting teenagers to read books of a quality worth teaching. How they would have rejoiced on finding a book like Silas Marner. It is a perfectly formed and executed story. And thoroughly readable and exceedingly engaging.

Times have changed somewhat however, and no teacher in their right mind would set Silas Marner as a text now. It has way too many words for today’s students. Which doesn’t mean a grown adult with an inclination to try reading more classics shouldn’t open its pages.

One of the books I periodically re-read for the sheer pleasure of it, Silas Marner is a great introduction to nineteenth century literature.

Grab your copy of Silas Marner here!

Silas Marner

George Eliot

George EliotWrongly accused of theft and exiled from a religious community many years before, the embittered weaver Silas Marner lives alone in Raveloe, living only for work and his precious hoard of money. But when his money is stolen and an orphaned child finds her way into his house, Silas is given the chance to transform his life. His fate, and that of the little girl he adopts, is entwined with Godfrey Cass, son of the village Squire, who, like Silas, is trapped by his past.

Silas Marner, George Eliot’s favourite of her novels, combines humour, rich symbolism and pointed social criticism to create an unsentimental but affectionate portrait of rural life.

Grab your copy of Silas Marner here!


BOOK REVIEW: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (Review by John Purcell)

Death in VeniceI remember the strangeness of my first encounter with Death in Venice. I had taken it off the shelf because it was a very slim volume. I was feeling somewhat fatigued, intellectually, and wanted something I could swallow whole in an afternoon.

Something light and diverting. Death in Venice was the wrong choice entirely. Death in Venice only looks like a slim volume, but in reality it is as vast as the whole history of western culture. It is an extraordinary piece of writing to which I return from time to time to make sure I was not mistaken in my first impressions.

Strange, decadent, beautiful, uncomfortable and compelling, Death in Venice will shock some modern readers with its subject matter, but leave others one or two steps closer to an understanding of art, beauty, mortality and desire.

Grab your copy of Death in Venice here!

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Death in Venice

Thomas Mann

Death in VeniceDeath in Venice is a story of obsession.

Gustave von Aschenbach is a successful but ageing writer who travels to Venice for a holiday. One day, at dinner, Aschenbach notices an exceptionally beautiful young boy who is staying with his family in the same hotel.

Soon his days begin to revolve around seeing this boy and he is too distracted to pay attention to the ominous rumours that have begun to circulate about disease spreading through the city.

Grab your copy of Death in Venice here!

BOOK REVIEW: The Awakening by Kate Chopin (Review by John Purcell)

A friend put me onto The Awakening. He had read it at university and was surprised that I had never taken the time to read it.the-awakening

To me, The Awakening was a revelation. That American Kate Chopin wrote this kind of novel in the last days of the nineteenth century seemed incredible. Her voice and the subjects of isolation, dissatisfaction, boredom and rebellion seem not of the past but of today.

The great women of nineteenth century fiction had been given complex inner lives, but none, to my knowledge had veered so confidently from the path of accepted behaviour.

None offered an alternative which suggested positive change.

I can only imagine the relief Chopin’s story offered thousands of bright women caught in the claustrophobic world of their day. That the novel can still offer relief now is an indication that we still have far to go on our road to equality.

Grab your copy of The Awakening here

The Awakening

Kate Chopin

the-awakeningFirst published in 1899 and widely regarded as one of the forerunners of feminist literature, alongside Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary.

Over one long, languid summer Edna Pontellier, fettered by marriage and motherhood, becomes acquainted with Robert Lebrun. As the days shorten and the temperature begins to drop Edna succumbs to Robert’s devotion. But in the thrall of this ever-strengthening desire Edna begins to realise the true extent of her psychological, social and sexual confinement and its devastating consequences for her future. This tender, brilliant … Read More

Grab your copy of The Awakening here

Order Madame Bovary and receive a double pass to see it at the movies!


In celebration of the release of Madame Bovary, described by Empire as “a beautiful adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s novel” and as “measured and absorbing” by Variety,  we’re giving you a free double pass to see the film when you order a copy of the book.

Synopsis: Adapted from Flaubert’s classic novel, Madame Bovary tells the tragic story of Emma, a young beauty who impulsively marries a small-town doctor to leave her father’s pig farm behind. But after being introduced to the glamorous world of high society, she soon becomes bored with her stodgy mate and seeks excitement and status outside the bonds of marriage. This sumptuous period drama features a superb cast including Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Paul Giamatti (Sideways) and Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Flaubert’s classic novel comes to life.

Order Madame Bovary and receive a free double pass to see this breathtaking film on the big screen.

madame-bovary-buy-and-receive-a-free-double-pass-Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert

Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent reader of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment and the consequences are devastating. Flaubert’s erotically charged novel caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857.

Grab a copy of Madame Bovary here

About the Author

Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen in 1821, the son of a prominent physician. A solitary child, he was attracted to literature at an early age, and after his recovery from a nervous breakdown suffered while a law student, he turned his total energies to writing. Aside from journeys to the Near East, Greece, Italy, and North Africa, and a stormy liaison with the poetess Louise Colet, his life was dedicated to more…

The 2015 Sydney Writer’s Festival In Focus – Andrew’s Highlights

Can you hear that?

Pages being briskly bookmarked, notepads scribbled on frantically, publicists sweating over author schedules…

The Sydney Writer’s Festival is nearly here!

And because I’m getting all excited, I’ve picked out some of my highlights for the 2015 edition, take a gander. For more details head to www.swf.org.au

Continue reading

TIME Magazine’s 10 Greatest Books of All-Time

A few years ago TIME magazine asked 125 of the world’s most celebrated writers to name their Top 10 novels of all time. No doubt after the resignations of many, many unpaid interns, they combined all these lists to make the ultimate Top 10 list.

We thought we’d share it with you. We’d like a few more women on there but hey, isn’t that always the way.

Do you agree with the picks? Did your favourite book mis the cut? Tell us in the comments section below.

middlemarch10. Middlemarch
by George Eliot

George Eliot’s most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community.

Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfillment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past.

As their stories interweave, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as ‘one of the few English novels written for adult people’.

Grab a copy of Middlemarch here

the-steppe-and-other-stories-1887-919. The Steppe and Other Stories
by Anton Chekov

The Steppe established Chekov’s reputation. It is the simple yet unforgettable tale of a young boy’s journey to a new school in Kiev, travelling through majestic landscapes towards an unknown life. Gusev depicts an ocean voyage, where a man dies and is thrown to sharks, and the sea takes on a terrifying, primeval power. In The Kiss a shy soldier is kissed by mistake in a darkened room; in A Dreary Story a man reaches the end of his life and questions its worth; and in The Duel two men’s enmity ends in farce.

Grab a copy of The Steppe and Other Stories here

in-search-of-lost-time-vol-1-swann-s-way8. In Search of Lost Time Vol 1: Swann’s Way
by Marcel Proust

The definitive translation of the greatest French novel of the twentieth century

In the opening volume of Proust’s great novel, the narrator travels backwards in time in order to tell the story of a love affair that had taken place before his own birth. Swann’s jealous love for Odette provides a prophetic model of the narrator’s own relationships. All Proust’s great themes – time and memory, love and loss, art and the artistic vocation – are here in kernel form.

Grab a copy of In Search of Lost Time Vol 1: Swann’s Way here

9780099541530 (1)7. The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s glittering Jazz Age masterpiece

Jay Gatsby is a self-made man, famed for his decadent champagne-drenched parties. Despite being surrounded by Long Island’s bright and beautiful, Gatsby longs only for Daisy Buchanan. In shimmering prose, Fitzgerald shows Gatsby pursue his dream to its tragic conclusion. The Great Gatsby is an elegiac and exquisite portrait of the American Dream.

Grab a copy of The Great Gatsby here

97800079023476. Hamlet
by William Shakespeare

Considered one of Shakespeare’s most rich and enduring plays, the depiction of its hero Hamlet as he vows to avenge the murder of his father by his brother Claudius is both powerful and complex. As Hamlet tries to find out the truth of the situation, his troubled relationship with his mother comes to the fore, as do the paradoxes in his personality. A play of carefully crafted conflict and tragedy, Shakespeare’s intricate dialogue continues to fascinate audiences to this day.

Grab a copy of Hamlet here

9780099572978 (1)5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain

It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them’

Huck Finn spits, swears, smokes a pipe and never goes to school. With his too-big clothes and battered straw hat, Huck is in need of ‘civilising’, and the Widow Douglas is determined to take him in hand. And wouldn’t you know, Huck’s no-good Pap is also after him and he locks Huck up in his cabin in the woods. But Huck won’t stand too much of this, and after a daring escape, he takes off down the Mississppi on a raft with an runaway slave called Jim. But plenty of dangers wait for them along the river – will they survive and win their freedom?

Grab a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn here

97801410234964. Lolita
by Vladimir Nabocov

Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. He also likes little girls. And none more so than Lolita, who he’ll do anything to possess. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? …Or is he all of these?

Grab a copy of Lolita here

war-and-peace3. War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s enthralling epic depicts Russia’s war with Napoleon and its effects on the lives of those caught up in the conflict. He creates some of the most vital and involving characters in literature as he follows the rise and fall of families in St Petersburg and Moscow who are linked by their personal and political relationships. His heroes are the thoughtful yet impulsive Pierre Bezukhov, his ambitious friend, Prince Andrei, and the woman who becomes indispensable to both of them, the enchanting Natasha Rostov.

Grab a copy of War and Peace here

97818474932242. Madam Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert

‘It has a perfection that not only stamps it, but that makes it stand almost alone.’ Henry James

Beautiful Emma Rouault yearns for the life of wealth, passion and romance she has encountered in popular sentimental fiction, and when her doctor, the well-meaning but awkward and unremarkable Charles Bovary, begins to pay her attention, she imagines that she may be granted her wish. However, after their marriage, Emma soon becomes frustrated with the boredom of provincial life and finds herself seeking escape and contemplating adultery.

As Emma’s efforts to make a reality of her fantasies become more dangerous, both she and those around her must face the shattering consequences of her actions. Causing widespread scandal when it was published in 1857, Madame Bovary is Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece and one of the landmark works of nineteenth-century realist fiction.

Grab a copy of Madam Bovary here

anna-karenina1. Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina is a novel of unparalleled richness and complexity, set against the backdrop of Russian high society. Tolstoy charts the course of the doomed love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer who pursues Anna after becoming infatuated with her at a ball.

Although she initially resists his charms Anna eventually succumbs, falling passionately in love and setting in motion a chain of events that lead to her downfall. In this extraordinary novel, Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, while evoking a love so strong that those who experience it are prepared to die for it.

Grab a copy of Anna Karenina here


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