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An Infamous Army: A Novel of Wellington, Waterloo, Love and War

By Georgette Heyer

On the eve of battle, passions are running high...

IN THE SUMMER OF 1815, with Napolean Bonaparte marching down from the north, Brussels is a whirlwind of parties, balls and soirees. In the swirling social scene surrounding the Duke of Wellington and his noble aides de camp, no one attracts more attention than the beautiful, outrageous young widow Lady + Read More..
On the eve of battle, passions are running high...

IN THE SUMMER OF 1815, with Napolean Bonaparte marching down from the north, Brussels is a whirlwind of parties, balls and soirees. In the swirling social scene surrounding the Duke of Wellington and his noble aides de camp, no one attracts more attention than the beautiful, outrageous young widow Lady Barbara Childe. On their first meeting, dashing Colonel Charles Audley proposes to her, but even their betrothal doesn't calm her wild behavior.

Finally, with the Battle of Waterloo raging just miles away, civilians fleeing and the wounded pouring back into the town, Lady Barbara discovers where her heart really lies, and like a true noblewoman, she rises to the occasion, and to the demands of love, life and war...
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As Above, So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel

By Rudy Rucker

Peter Bruegel's paintings---a peasant wedding in a barn, hunters in the snow, a rollicking street festival, and many others---have long defined our idea of everyday life in sixteenth- century Europe. They are classic icons of a time and place in much the same way as Norman Rockwell's depictions of twentieth-century America. We know relatively little about Bruegel, but + Read More..
Peter Bruegel's paintings---a peasant wedding in a barn, hunters in the snow, a rollicking street festival, and many others---have long defined our idea of everyday life in sixteenth- century Europe. They are classic icons of a time and place in much the same way as Norman Rockwell's depictions of twentieth-century America. We know relatively little about Bruegel, but after years of research, novelist Rudy Rucker has built upon the what is known and has created for us the life and world of a true master who never got old.

In sixteen chapters, each headed by a reproduction of one of the famous works, Rucker brings Bruegel's painter's progress and his colorful world to vibrant life, doing for Bruegel what the best-selling Girl with a Pearl Earring did for Vermeer. We follow the artist from the winding streets of Antwerp and Brussels to the glowing skies and decaying monuments of Rome and back. He and his friends, the cartographer Ortelius and Williblad Cheroo, an American Indian, are as vivid on the page as the multifarious denizens of Bruegel's unforgettable canvases.

Here is a world of conflict, change, and discovery, a world where Carnival battles Lent every day, preserved for us in paint by the engaging genius you will meet in the pages of As Above So Below.
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Expo 58

By Jonathan Coe

A comic spy caper and international love story, set in Europe in the middle of the last century, Expo 58 is the latest sublime creation by Jonathan Coe, hailed by Nick Hornby as “probably the best English novelist of his generation.”

Handsome, unassuming Thomas Foley is an employee at the Central Office of Information whose particular biography (Belgian mother, + Read More..
A comic spy caper and international love story, set in Europe in the middle of the last century, Expo 58 is the latest sublime creation by Jonathan Coe, hailed by Nick Hornby as “probably the best English novelist of his generation.”

Handsome, unassuming Thomas Foley is an employee at the Central Office of Information whose particular biography (Belgian mother, pub-owning father) makes him just the man to oversee the “authentic British pub” that will be erected at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. It’s the first major expo after World War II, meant to signify unity, but there’s inevitable intrigue involving the U.S. and Soviet delegations. In the shadow of an immense, imposingly modern structure called the Atomium, the married Foley becomes both agent and pawn—when he’s not falling head over heels for Anneke, his Belgian hostess.

Funny, fast-paced, and genuinely moving, Expo 58 is both a perfect evocation of a moment in history and the welcome return of one of today’s finest novelists.

“Expo 58, like Our Man in Havana and all the best comic novels, reminds us that comedy is not the sugar that makes the medicine go down. Comedy is the medicine—medicine that exists not to cure you but to make you realize, once the medicine wears off, how sick you really are.” New York Times
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King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

By Adam Hochschild

In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold Ii of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation + Read More..
In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold Ii of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated.

King Leopold's Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust.

Adam Hochschild brings this largely untold story alive with the wit and skill of a Barbara Tuchman. Like her, he knows that history often provides a far richer cast of characters than any novelist could invent. Chief among them is Edmund Morel, a young British shipping agent who went on to lead the international crusade against Leopold.

Another hero of this tale, the Irish patriot Roger Casement, ended his life on a London gallows. Two courageous black Americans, George Washington Williams and William Sheppard, risked much to bring evidence of the Congo atrocities to the outside world. Sailing into the middle of the story was a young Congo River steamboat officer named Joseph Conrad. And looming above them all, the duplicitous billionaire King Leopold Ii.

With great power and compassion, King Leopold's Ghost will brand the tragedy of the Congo--too long forgotten--onto the conscience of the West.
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Open City

By Teju Cole

A New York Times Notable Book

A haunting novel about identity, dislocation, and history, Teju Cole’s Open City is a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world.

Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor named Julius wanders, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, + Read More..
A New York Times Notable Book

A haunting novel about identity, dislocation, and history, Teju Cole’s Open City is a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world.

Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor named Julius wanders, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. He encounters people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.

“[A] prismatic debut . . . beautiful, subtle, [and] original.” The New Yorker
$10.00
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The Guns of August

By Barbara W. Tuchman

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman’s classic histories of the First World War era

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War + Read More..
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Guns of August, and The Zimmerman Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman’s classic histories of the First World War era

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war’s key players, Tuchman’s magnum opus is a classic for the ages.

“A fine demonstration that with sufficient art rather specialized history can be raised to the level of literature.”—The New York Times
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The Lady and the Unicorn

By Tracy Chevalier

Bewitching art experts and enthusiasts alike for centuries, the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries hang today in the Cluny Museum in Paris.

In each, an elegant lady and a unicorn stand or sit on an island of grass surrounded by a rich background of animals and flowers. Little is known about them except that they were woven toward the + Read More..
Bewitching art experts and enthusiasts alike for centuries, the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries hang today in the Cluny Museum in Paris.

In each, an elegant lady and a unicorn stand or sit on an island of grass surrounded by a rich background of animals and flowers. Little is known about them except that they were woven toward the end of the fifteenth century and bear the coat of arms of a wealthy family from Lyons.

Tracy Chevalier takes readers back to the tapestries’ creation, giving life to the men who designed and made them, as well as the wives, daughters, and servants who exercised subtle (and not so subtle) influences over their men. Like the many different strands of wool and silk that were woven together into one cloth, the lives and fates of these people entwine in complex patterns, crisscrossing as they seek desires sensual and spiritual, temporal and eternal.

An extraordinary story exquisitely told, Tracy Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn weaves history and fiction into a beautiful, timeless, and intriguing literary tapestry that rivals in grace and grandeur the masterpiece that inspired it.
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Under the Poppy: A Novel

By Kathe Koja

Under the Poppy is a brothel owned by Decca and Rupert. Decca is in love with Rupert but he in turn is in love with her brother, Istvan. When Istvan comes back to town, louche puppet troupe in tow, the lines of their age-old desires intersect against a backdrop of approaching war.

Hearts are broken when old betrayals and + Read More..
Under the Poppy is a brothel owned by Decca and Rupert. Decca is in love with Rupert but he in turn is in love with her brother, Istvan. When Istvan comes back to town, louche puppet troupe in tow, the lines of their age-old desires intersect against a backdrop of approaching war.

Hearts are broken when old betrayals and new alliances—not just their own—take shape, as the townsmen seek refuge from the onslaught of history by watching the girls of the Poppy cavort onstage with Istvan’s naughty puppets.

When the war gets too close, Istvan and Rupert abandon the Poppy and find a place in high society where they try to avoid becoming more than puppets themselves in the hands of those they have helped before and who now want to use them again.

From its explosive beginning to the final climax, Under the Poppy is a vivid, sexy, behind-the-scenes historical novel as delicious and intoxicating as the best guilty pleasure.
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Vanity Fair

By William Makepeace Thackeray

No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia, however, longs only for caddish soldier George.

As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles—military and + Read More..
No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia, however, longs only for caddish soldier George.

As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles—military and domestic—are fought, fortunes made and lost. The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is Dobbin with his devotion to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure.
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Villette

By Charlotte Brontë

"I am only just returned to a sense of real wonder about me, for I have been reading Villette..." George Eliot

With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls’ boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, + Read More..
"I am only just returned to a sense of real wonder about me, for I have been reading Villette..." George Eliot

With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls’ boarding school in the small town of Villette. There she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, an initially suspicious headmaster, and her own complex feelings, first for the school’s English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor, Paul Emmanuel.

Charlotte Brontë’s last and most autobiographical novel is a powerfully moving study of isolation and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.