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One of Nancy Mitford’s most beloved novels, Love in a Cold Climate is a sparkling romantic comedy that vividly evokes the lost glamour of aristocratic life in England between the wars.

Polly Hampton has long been groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, the fearsome and ambitious Lady Montdore. But Polly, with her stunning good looks and impeccable connections, is bored by the monotony of her glittering debut season in London. Having just come from India, where her father served as Viceroy, she claims to have hoped that society in a colder climate would be less obsessed with love affairs. The apparently aloof and indifferent Polly has a long-held secret, however, one that leads to the shattering of her mother’s dreams and her own disinheritance. When an elderly duke begins pursuing the disgraced Polly and a callow potential heir curries favor with her parents, nothing goes as expected, but in the end all find happiness in their own unconventional ways.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

At the start of this edgy and ambitiously multilayered novel, a fashion model named Charlotte Swenson emerges from a car accident in her Illinois hometown with her face so badly shattered that it takes eighty titanium screws to reassemble it. She returns to New York still beautiful but oddly unrecognizable, a virtual stranger in the world she once effortlessly occupied.

With the surreal authority of a David Lynch, Jennifer Egan threads Charlotte’s narrative with those of other casualties of our infatuation with the image. There’s a deceptively plain teenaged girl embarking on a dangerous secret life, an alcoholic private eye, and an enigmatic stranger who changes names and accents as he prepares an apocalyptic blow against American society. As these narratives inexorably converge, Look at Me becomes a coolly mesmerizing intellectual thriller of identity and imposture.

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The whooping crane rustlers are girls. Young girls. Cowgirls, as a matter of fact, all “bursting with dimples and hormones”—and the FBI has never seen anything quite like them. Yet their rebellion at the Rubber Rose Ranch is almost overshadowed by the arrival of the legendary Sissy Hankshaw, a white-trash goddess literally born to hitchhike, and the freest female of them all.

Freedom, its prizes and its prices, is a major theme of Tom Robbins’s classic tale of eccentric adventure. As his robust characters attempt to turn the tables on fate, the reader is drawn along on a tragicomic joyride across the badlands of sexuality, wild rivers of language, and the frontiers of the mind.

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This collection covers the span of Thom Gunn's remarkable poetic career over almost forty years. Gunn has made a speciality of playing style against subject as he deals with the out-of-control through tightly controlled meters and with the systematized through open forms.

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This splendid volume of short fiction testifies to Margaret Atwood's startlingly original voice, full of a rare intensity and exceptional intelligence.  Her men and women still miscommunicate, still remain separate in different rooms, different houses, or even different worlds.  With brilliant flashes of fantasy, humor, and unexpected violence, the stories reveal the complexities of human relationships and bring to life characters who touch us deeply, evoking terror and laughter, compassion and recognition--and dramatically demonstrate why Margaret Atwood is one of the most important writers in English today.

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London Fields is Amis's murder story for the end of the millennium. The murderee is Nicola Six, a "black hole" of sex and self-loathing intent on orchestrating her own extinction. The murderer may be Keith Talent, a violent lowlife whose only passions are pornography and darts. Or is the killer the rich, honorable, and dimly romantic Guy Clinch?

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In this intrepid, groundbreaking book, Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb uncover and define a new form of class conflict in America―an internal conflict in the heart and mind of the blue-collar worker who measures his own value against those lives and occupations to which our society gives a special premium.

The authors conclude that in the games of hierarchical respect, no class can emerge the victor; and that true egalitarianism can be achieved only by rediscovering diverse concepts of human dignity. Examining personal feelings in terms of a totality of human relations, and looking beyond the struggle for economic survival, The Hidden Injuries of Class takes an important step forward in the sociological critique of everyday life.

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Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

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Flannery O'Connor was working on Everything That Rises Must Converge at the time of her death. This collection is an exquisite legacy from a genius of the American short story, in which she scrutinizes territory familiar to her readers: race, faith, and morality. The stories encompass the comic and the tragic, the beautiful and the grotesque; each carries her highly individual stamp and could have been written by no one else.

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Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticism–these are the elements that Orhan Pamuk anneals in this masterful, disquieting novel. An exiled poet named Ka returns to Turkey and travels to the forlorn city of Kars. His ostensible purpose is to report on a wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head-scarves. But Ka is also drawn by his memories of the radiant Ipek, now recently divorced. Amid blanketing snowfall and universal suspicion, Ka finds himself pursued by figures ranging from Ipek’s ex-husband to a charismatic terrorist. A lost gift returns with ecstatic suddenness. A theatrical evening climaxes in a massacre. And finding god may be the prelude to losing everything else. Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, Snow is of immense relevance to our present moment.

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“I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire. . . . I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” —from The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and  one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

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Set in the bleak Fen Country of East Anglia, and spanning some 240 years in the lives of its haunted narrator and his ancestors, Waterland is a book that takes in eels and incest, ale-making and madness, the heartless sweep of history and a family romance as tormented as any in Greek tragedy.

"Waterland, like the Hardy novels, carries with all else a profound knowledge of a people, a place, and their interweaving.... Swift tells his tale with wonderful contemporary verve and verbal felicity.... A fine and original work."--Los Angeles Times

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The thirty-four stories in this seminal collection powerfully display what have become Lydia Davis's trademarks―dexterity, brevity, understatement, and surprise. Although the certainty of her prose suggests a world of almost clinical reason and clarity, her characters show us that life, thought, and language are full of disorder. Break It Down is Davis at her best. In the words of Jonathan Franzen, she is "a magician of self-consciousness."

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A True Story of Monstrous Deception

Now a major motion picture starring Daniel Auteuil (Sade, Girl on the Bridge, Jean de Florette) directed by Nicole Garcia (Place Vendome)

Acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Emmanuel Carrère, whose fiction John Updike described as "stunning" (The New Yorker) explores the double life of a respectable doctor, eighteen years of lies, five murders, and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.

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This reissue of Grace Paley's classic collection―a finalist for the National Book Award―demonstrates her rich use of language as well as her extraordinary insight into and compassion for her characters, moving from the hilarious to the tragic and back again. Whether writing about the love (and conflict) between parents and children or between husband and wife, or about the struggles of aging single mothers or disheartened political organizers to make sense of the world, she brings the same unerring ear for the rhythm of life as it is actually lived.

The Collected Stories is a 1994 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

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The Question of the Other

The Conquest of America is a fascinating study of cultural confrontation in the New World, with implications far beyond sixteenth-century America. The book offers an original interpretation of the Spaniards’ conquest, colonization, and destruction of pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico and the Caribbean. Using sixteenth-century sources, the distinguished French writer and critic Tzvetan Todorov examines the beliefs and behavior of the Spanish conquistadors and of the Aztecs, adversaries in a clash of cultures that resulted in the near extermination of Mesoamerica’s Indian population.

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Haile Selassie, King of Kings, Elect of God, Lion of Judah, His Most Puissant Majesty and Distinguished Highness the Emperor of Ethiopia, reigned from 1930 until he was overthrown by the army in 1974. While the fighting still raged, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Poland's leading foreign correspondent, traveled to Ethiopia to seek out and interview Selassie's servants and closest associates on how the Emperor had ruled and why he fell. This "sensitive, powerful. . .history" (The New York Review of Books) is Kapuscinski's rendition of their accounts—humorous, frightening, sad, groteque—of a man living amidst nearly unimaginable pomp and luxury while his people teetered netween hunger and starvation.

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