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.

Winter Games by Rachel Johnson

Munich, 1936. She doesn't know it, but eighteen-year old Daphne Linden has a seat in the front row of history. Along with her best friend, Betsy Barton-Hill, and a whole bevy of other young English upper-class girls, Daphne is in Bavaria to improve her German, to go to the Opera, to be 'finished'. It may be the Third Reich, but another war is unthinkable, and the girls are having the time of their lives. Aren't they? London, 2006. Seventy years later and Daphne's granddaughter, Francie Fitzsimon has all the boxes ticked: large flat, successful husband, cushy job writing up holistic spas . . . The hardest decision she has to make is where to go for brunch - until, that is, the discovery of a photograph of Daphne sends her on a quest to discover what really happened to her grandmother in Germany, all those years ago.