Love Your Library – the Hampshire Library podcast

Are you an avid reader?  Keen to be inspired for your next book?  You’ll love our new podcast series which is free to download and subscribe.  You’ll find two episodes to download straightaway which feature interviews with Shetland and Vera author Ann Cleeves and AGA-saga queen Joanna Trollope.  You’ll also hear book recommendations from our… Continue reading Love Your Library – the Hampshire Library podcast

National Book Lover’s Day

On Wednesday 9th August 2017 come one, come all, come lovers of books! Let's celebrate one of our favourite days of the year - National Book Lover's Day! It falls on the ninth of every August and is filled with adventurous novels, newly discovered authors, and old favourites. So feel free to participate and spread… Continue reading National Book Lover’s Day

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Clarissa Dalloway is a woman of high-society – vivacious, hospitable and sociable on the surface, yet underneath troubled and dissatisfied with her life in post-war Britain. This disillusionment is an emotion that bubbles under the surface of all of Woolf’s characters in Mrs Dalloway.

Centred around one day in June where Clarissa is preparing for and holding a party, her interior monologue mingles with those of the other central characters in a stream of consciousness, entwining, yet never actually overriding the pervading sense of isolation that haunts each person.

One of Virginia Woolf’s most accomplished novels, Mrs Dalloway is widely regarded as one of the most revolutionary works of the 20th century in its style and the themes that it tackles. The sense that Clarissa has married the wrong person, her past love for another female friend and the death of an intended party guest all serve to amplify this stultifying existence.

A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Wilde's only novel, first published in 1890, is a brilliantly designed puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence. From its provocative Preface, challenging the reader to believe in 'art for art's sake', to its sensational conclusion, the story self-consciously experiments with the notion of sin as an element of design.

Yet Wilde himself underestimated the consequences of his experiment, and its capacity to outrage the Victorian establishment. Its words returned to haunt him in his court appearances in 1895, and he later recalled the 'note of doom' which runs like 'a purple thread' through its carefully crafted prose.

Vanity Fair by William M Thackeray

Thackeray's upper-class Regency world is a noisy and jostling commercial fairground, predominantly driven by acquisitive greed and soulless materialism, in which the narrator himself plays a brilliantly versatile role as a serio-comic observer.

Although subtitled A Novel without a Hero, Vanity Fair follows the fortunes of two contrasting but inter-linked lives: through the retiring Amelia Sedley and the brilliant Becky Sharp, Thackeray examines the position of women in an intensely exploitative male world.

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

George Orwell's vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute, Down and Out in Paris and London is a moving tour of the underworld of society.

'You have talked so often of going to the dogs - and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them.'

Written when Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties, it documents his 'first contact with poverty'. Here, he painstakingly documents a world of unrelenting drudgery and squalor - sleeping in bug-infested hostels and doss houses of last resort, working as a dishwasher in Paris's vile 'Hôtel X', surviving on scraps and cigarette butts, living alongside tramps, a star-gazing pavement artist and a starving Russian ex-army captain. Exposing a shocking, previously-hidden world to his readers, Orwell gave a human face to the statistics of poverty for the first time - and in doing so, found his voice as a writer.

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

On April 15th, 1912, Titanic, the world's largest passenger ship, sank after colliding with an iceberg, claiming more than 1,500 lives. Walter Lord's classic bestselling history of the voyage, the wreck and the aftermath is a tour de force of detailed investigation and the upstairs/downstairs divide. A Night to Remember provides a vivid, gripping and deeply personal account of the 'unsinkable' Titanic's descent.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war, to the 'war to end all wars'. He volunteered for ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of his experiences came his early masterpiece, A Farewell to Arms. In an unforgettable depiction of war, Hemingway recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteers and the men and women he encounters along the way with conviction and brutal honesty. A love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion, A Farewell to Arms offers a unique and unflinching view of the world and people, by the winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd is perhaps the most pastoral of Hardy's Wessex novels. It tells the story of the young farmer Gabriel Oak and his love for and pursuit of the elusive Bathsheba Everdene, whose wayward nature leads her to both tragedy and true love.

It tells of the dashing Sergeant Troy whose rakish philosophy of life was ‘…the past was yesterday; never, the day after’, and lastly, of the introverted and reclusive gentleman farmer, Mr Boldwood, whose love fills him with ‘…a fearful sense of exposure’, when he first sets eyes on Bathsheba.

The background of this tale is the Wessex countryside in all its moods, contriving to make it one of the most English of great English novels.

Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith

The Diary of a Nobody is so unassuming a work that even its author, George Grossmith, seemed unaware that he had produced a masterpiece. For more than a century this wonderfully comic portrayal of suburban life and values has remained in print, a source of delight to generations of readers, and a major literary influence, much imitated but never equalled.

If you don’t recognise yourself at some point in The Diary you are probably less than human. If you can read it without laughing aloud you have no sense of humour.