"This was the last completed novel that Dickens wrote before he died and I believe it's his masterwork. It is also the great novel about London and all its strata of social types. Funny, complex, dark in places, it gives us a tantalising indication of what direction Dickens' writing might have taken had he lived longer." - William Boyd
Upon his death, an old miser leaves his fortune to his son, who at the time is away from the country, on condition that he marries Bella Wilfer, a woman he has never met. As he is presumed dead, the inheritance goes to Boffin, the miser's former servant, but John is in fact alive and intrigues himself into the life of the Boffins as secretary John Rokesmith. Through twists and turns, he wins Bella's love and marries her, finally revealing his true identity and taking possession of his father's fortune.


Short Stories

By Anton Chekhov

"Anton Chekhov is regarded as the greatest ever writer of short stories and the mature stories he wrote in the last decade of his life and unrivalled. Clear-eyed, wry, wise, very modern in spirit, Chekhov looks at the human condition in all its absurd tragi-comedy and refuses to judge. After Chekhov all short writing changed. His influenced is massive." - William Boyd
Regarded as the greatest author of short stories, Anton Chekhov changed the genre itself with his spare, impressionistic depictions of Russian life and the human condition. From characteristically brief, evocative early pieces ... to his best-known stories ... Chekhov’s short fiction possesses the transcendent power of art to awe and change the reader' - from Penguin Random House's edition of Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov (2000).


A Far Cry From Kensington

By Muriel Spark

"I love Muriel Spark's short, spiky novels, all distinguished by her unique comic tone of voice. A Far Cry is my particular favourite, and is surprisingly autobiographical, its protagonist being very similar to the young Muriel Spark herself. Funny, astringent, shrewd, her take on life is wonderfully bracing." - William Boyd
Inspired by her own experience as a literary editor in London, the book tells the story of Agnes (Nancy) Hawkins, an editor working for a failing publishing house. Looking back on her past, Nancy recalls her struggling days in South Kensington, losing her job and getting embroiled in a mysterious affair involving blackmail, anonymous letters, and worse...



By Evelyn Waugh

"I believe Evelyn Waugh's comic novels are his greatest achievements and Scoop is pre-eminent amongst the four or five classic comedies he wrote. Scoop is an almost perfect comic novel set in the world of 1930s journalism, very funny, wickedly accurate and beautifully, economically written." - William Boyd
Lord Copper, newspaper magnate and proprietor of 'The Daily Beast', is convinced that he has found the perfect young reporter to cover the crisis in the African Republic of Ishmaelia. William Boot, a nature contributor to the newspaper, finds himself mistaken for his remote cousin and popular novelist and sent to East Africa to report on the war. In this comedy of mistaken identities, Waugh explores the frenzied pursuit of a good scoop at all costs.


Pale Fire

By Vladimir Nabokov

"This is a unique novel that could only have been written by Nabokov. It takes the form of a 999-line poem in rhyming couplets with the addition of a long 'learned' commentary on the meaning behind the verse. Don't be put off by the form - the style of writing is sheer aesthetic pleasure and it is also one of the funniest novels ever written." - William Boyd
'The American poet John Shade is dead; murdered. His last poem, Pale Fire, is put into a book, together with a preface, a lengthy commentary and notes by Shade's editor, Charles Kinbote. Known on campus as the 'Great Beaver', Kinbote is haughty, inquisitive, intolerant, but is he also mad, bad - and even dangerous? As his wildly eccentric annotations slide into the personal and the fantastical, Kinbote reveals perhaps more than he should.' From Penguin Classics' edition (2000).


Jungle Book

By Rudyard Kipling

Children's book. Mowgli is saved by Father Wolf and Mother Wolf from the clutches of the tiger Shere Khan. The Wolves rear the child as their own, but, as he grows up, he will have to learn to defend himself and, with the help of Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear, will eventually face the fearsome Shere Khan.


Children's book. On an ordinary summer's afternoon, as she sits on the riverbank with her sister, Alice notices something quite odd: a talking white rabbit, clothed and holding a pocket watch, running past her. Curious, Alice follows him down a rabbit hole, and tumbles down into a strange world, full of even stranger characters.