Travels with a Donkey. By Robert Louis Stevenson. Travels with a Donkey recounts Stevenson’s 12-day, 120-mile solo hiking journey through the sparsely populated and impoverished areas of the Cévennes mountains in south-central France in 1878. The character of Modestine, a stubborn, manipulative donkey he could never quite get the better of, is memorable. It is one of the earliest accounts which presented hiking and camping outdoors as a recreational activity. It also tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags, large and heavy enough to require a donkey to carry.
The Entertainer. John Osborne’s classic play. Bill Nighy stars as fading entertainer Archie Rice in this brilliant and poignant examination of three generations of a family after the Second World War.
Lawn Wars. By Nick Warburton. Alice is a single middle-aged woman devastated after the recent loss of her mother. To fulfil a promise she made to herself on mother’s deathbed, Alice takes on a gardener to improve the lawn that helped bond the two women.
The Guns of Navarone. By Alistair MacLean. The Guns of Navarone concerns the efforts of an Allied commando team to destroy a seemingly impregnable German fortress that threatens Allied naval ships in the Aegean Sea, and prevents over 1,200 isolated British troops from being rescued. The story is based on the real events surrounding the Battle of Leros in World War II.
Cavity. By Sean Grundy. Kirsty is having an affair with a married man, Adrian. When his wife Lucy returns unexpectedly from a business conference, Kirsty hides in the attic. In a panic, she falls down the back of the attic into the cavity wall.
The Dweller in High Places. By Susanna Clarke. Across the water, the Napoleonic Wars rage but a young girl discovers a danger much closer to home when she encounters a mysterious visitor from Ancient Greece who has taken up residence in the attic of her London boarding school.
Ghost In The Mechanic. By Sarah Dobbs. A tragic accident atop Cherrybrook Hill leaves car-mechanic, Mickey-Joe, devastated. Unable to face up to his guilt he retreats into a world of rituals and habits as a way of keeping his emotions in check. When his dog dies during a dust storm, the memories come flooding back and Mickey-Joe finally goes to meet the ghost that calls out to him from the top of Cherrybrook Hill.
id. By Phil Emery. The UK in the near future. The population is divided into the privileged that live in a sanitised “perfect” environment and the workers who live in polluted shanty towns, performing the menial jobs that sustain the lifestyles of the privileged. A runner, uneasy about his so-called “perfect” existence, likes to escape from his world and each day run through these off-limit shanty towns. When, on his run, he encounters a young boy scarred from polluted water, he’s forced to confront what is wrong with his way of life.
Conviction. By Kate Scott. The UK in the near future. The population is divided into the privileged that live in a sanitised “perfect” environment and the workers who live in polluted shanty towns, performing the menial jobs that sustain the lifestyles of the privileged. A runner, uneasy about his so-called “perfect” existence, likes to escape from his world and each day run through these off-limit shanty towns. When, on his run, he encounters a young boy scarred from polluted water, he’s forced to confront what is wrong with his way of life.
Expecting. By Catherine Mant. Pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend, a young woman moves into a semi-derelict Georgian house in Whitechapel to house-sit for friends. She starts hearing running feet and a baby crying and becomes obsessed with finding out whether in the past, a baby has died in the house. All she can think about is finding a way to stop the crying. Out of desperation, she triggers off a series of events that puts her own baby at risk.
Cthul-you. By Damien G Walter. A occultist signs up to the website “Cthul-You” in the hope of meeting like-minded people. This is a demonic version of “My Space” where instead of attracting fellow humans, the desired outcome is to attract demons. Just who exactly is “Mark” who answers this lonely occultist’s call and what plans does he have for his new devotee?
The Quick And The Dead. By Nick Moulton. The setting is Victorian London and a scientist has just discovered how to keep death at bay. The dead are brought to the Asylum of The Deceased where they are resurrected. An illicit romance begins to blossom between one of the new inmates and a young doctor. The plight of being brought back to life and forced to live in limbo is explored in all its complexity.
Elegy Underground. By Fiona McFarlane. Angels arrive on Earth with an important message to impart, only to find that no-one knows who they are and what they represent. The world is greatly changed and humankind’s collective memory is failing. Death is no longer officially recognised, forcing it to go underground – travelling cemeteries arrive in the middle of the night to take away the dead and a thriving market in illegal elegy smuggling has emerged. Lachrimae Bird, circus performer and chief elegy writer, is the only one to remember angels and she wonders why they have chosen to make their presence felt now.
A Lasting Impression. By Alexandra Bayliss. Following a terrible row with her boyfriend, a woman receives a chilling supernatural message.In a last ditched attempt to save their relationship a young woman persuades her boyfriend to come on holiday with her to Canada. Things get off to a bad start – they have a terrible row as soon as they book into the hotel. He storms off and she is left to contemplate her disastrous love life. Suddenly the ghostly apparition of a woman with half a face missing appears in the room with a chilling message for the young tourist.
Father’s Day. By Ian Dudley. The UK in the near future. This is a forbidding place where individuality is frowned upon and in extreme cases punished. Following the death of her mother, a young woman becomes estranged from her father. He unquestioningly embraces the new world order, whereas she remains stubbornly defiant, only just living on the right side of the law. He even undergoes a medical procedure to cut her out of his life. The daughter comes home one night to be greeted by a sinister official calling himself “Truth”. It would seem any hope of reconciliation between father and daughter is fading.
Barbara Allen. By David Pownall. The mystery of love’s compelling power, explored in a drama based on one of the best-loved folk-songs of all time. The story of high-born Gemmy Grove’s obsession with the beautiful artisan girl Barbara Allen.
Robinson Crusoe. By Daniel Defoe. First published in 1719, it is sometimes considered to be the first novel in English. The book is a fictional autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island near Venezuela, encountering Native Americans, captives, and mutineers before being rescued.
The Further Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe. By Daniel Defoe. The popular tale of Robinson Crusoe’s island adventures continues in this sequel, which picks up in England where the first book concluded. Having returned safely home, Crusoe marries and starts a family. But despite his prosperous life, he finds nothing to challenge him and suffers from a burning desire to return to sea. Although his wife begs him not to go, Crusoe and his man Friday set sail. When they reach the island, they are surprised to find that things have changed dramatically.
Quartermaine’s Terms. Simon Gray’s funny and moving play is set in a school for teaching English to foreigners in the 1960s. It deals with the concerns of seven teachers over several years and in particular the progress of Quartermaine, a lonely man and ineffective teacher.
On The Ceiling. By Nigel Planer. High up on the wooden scaffolding tower of the Sistine Chapel, two fresco plasterers prepare the ceiling for their boss, Michelangelo, who has not bothered to turn up again. As they do so, they bemoan the uselessness of the great master.
John Masters India: Book 1- The Deceivers. Dramatisation of the first Master’s India novel. 1825: The story shows how British officer and colonial administrator William Savage comes to know about the Thuggee cult, infiltrates their society, learns their ways and code of communication, and destroys them by capturing or killing their key leaders. During his travels with the Thuggee he almost falls prey to the cult’s ways as he comes to experience the ecstasy of ritual killings.
John Masters India: Book 2- Night Runners Of Bengal. The novel is set at the time of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The central character, Captain Rodney Savage, is an officer in a Bengal Native Infantry regiment. Restless with garrison life, he is still devoted to his regiment and its sepoys. In spite of his empathy with the sepoys Savage does not realise that fear and resentment are driving them to intrigue with local rulers and other conspirators against the rule of the British East India Company.
John Masters India: Book 3-The Lotus And The Wind continues the saga of the Savage family, who are part of the British Raj in India, and is set against the backdrop of the Great Game, the period of tension between Britain and Russia in Central Asia during the late nineteenth century.
John Masters India: Book 4-Bhowani Junction is set in 1947, shortly before India gained independence. Victoria is an Anglo-Indian, the daughter of a railway worker. Patrick, also an Anglo-Indian, considers himself her boyfriend, but her feelings towards him are platonic. In self-defense Victoria kills a British officer who has attempted to rape her, and is helped to avoid detection by a Sikh, Ranjit, who hopes to marry her.
A City Full of Swindlers. By Jenny Howarth. Cassandra Austen narrates the shocking story of her aunt’s arrest and imprisonment for stealing a piece of lace, a story which reveals Georgian Bath to be a far less decorous place than it appears in her sister Jane’s novels.