Ethan Frome
Ethan Frome

Perhaps the best-known and most popular of Edith Wharton’s novels, Ethan Frome is widely considered her masterpiece. Set against a bleak New England background, the novel tells of Frome, his ailing wife Zeena and her companion Mattie Silver, superbly delineating the characters of each as they are drawn relentlessly into a deep-rooted domestic struggle.
Burdened by poverty and spiritually dulled by a loveless marriage to an older woman. Frome is emotionally stirred by the arrival of a youthful cousin who is employed as household help. Mattie’s presence not only brightens a gloomy house but stirs long-dormant feelings in Ethan. Their growing love for one another, discovered by an embittered wife, presages an ending to this grim tale that is both shocking and savagely ironic.

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Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver's Travels

Regarded as the preeminent prose satirist in the English language, Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) intended this masterpiece, as he once wrote Alexander Pope, to “vex the world rather than divert it.” Savagely ironic, it portrays man as foolish at best, and at worst, not much more than an ape.
The direct and unadorned narrative describes four remarkable journies of ship’s surgeon Lemuel Gulliver, among them, one to the land of Lilliput, where six-inch-high inhabitants bicker over trivialities; and another to Brobdingnag, a land where giants reduce man to insignificance.
Written with disarming simplicity and careful attention to detail, this classic is diverse in its appeal: for children, it remains an enchanting fantasy. For adults, it is a witty parody of political life in Swift’s time and a scathing send-up of manners and morals in 18th-century England.

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House of the Seven Gables
House of the Seven Gables

A gloomy New England mansion provides the setting for this classic exploration of ancestral guilt and its expiation through the love and goodwill of succeeding generations.
Nathaniel Hawthorne drew inspiration for this story of an immorally obtained property from the role his forebears played in the 17th-century Salem witch trials. Built over an unquiet grave, the House of the Seven Gables carries a dying man’s curse that blights the lives of its residents for over two centuries. Now Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, an iron-hearted hypocrite and intellectual heir to the mansion’s unscrupulous founder, is attempting to railroad a pair of his elderly relatives out of the house. Only two young people stand in his way — a visiting country cousin and an enigmatic boarder skilled in mesmerism.
Hawthorne envisioned this family drama of evil, revenge, and resolution as a microcosm of Salem’s own history as in idealistic society corrupted by greed and pride. His enduring view of the darkness at the heart of the national soul has made The House of the Seven Gables a landmark of American literature.

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Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

Determined to make her heroine “as poor and plain as myself,” Charlotte Brontë made a daring choice for her 1847 novel. Jane Eyre possesses neither the great beauty nor entrancing charm that her fictional predecessors used to make their way in the world. Instead, Jane relies upon her powers of diligence and perception, conducting herself with dignity animated by passion.
The instant and lasting success of Jane Eyre proved Brontë’s instincts correct. Readers of her era and ever after have taken the impoverished orphan girl into their hearts, following her from the custody of cruel relatives to a dangerously oppressive boarding school and onward through a troubled career as a governess. Jane’s first assignment at Thorn field, where the proud and cynical master of the house harbors a scandalous secret, draws readers ever deeper into a compelling exploration of the mysteries of the human heart.
A banquet of food for thought, this many-faceted tale invites a splendid variety of interpretations. The heroine’s insistence upon emotional equality with her lover suggests a feminist viewpoint, while her solitary status invokes a consideration of the problems of growing up as a social outsider. Some regard Jane’s attempts to reconcile her need for love with her search for moral rectitude as the story’s primary message, and lovers of gothic romance find the tale’s social and religious aspects secondary to its gripping elements of mystery and horror. This classic of English literature truly features something for every reader.

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Little Women
Little Women

This American classic is as fresh and meaningful today as it was when it was first written in the mid-nineteenth century. Largely based on the author's own childhood, Little Women is a timeless tale of the four young March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. As different in their personalities as they are alike in their devotion to each other, the girls vow to support their beloved mother, Marmee, by behaving their best while Father is away, serving as an army chaplain in the Civil War.
Literary-minded tomboy Jo develops a fast friendship with the boy next door, and pretty Meg, the eldest, finds romance; frail and affectionate Beth fills the house with music, and Amy, the youngest, seeks beauty with all the longing of an artist's soul. Although poor in material wealth, the family possesses an abundance of love, friendship, and imaginative gifts that captivate readers time and again.

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Northanger Abbey
Northanger Abbey

In this spirited comedy of manners Catherine Morland, a plain, unspoiled small-town girl on holiday in Bath, meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, a handsome young clergyman. Henry’s father, believing Catherine to be wealthy, invites her to be a guest at Northanger Abby, the family’s country estate. Catherine, who has read too many Gothic romances and who is possessed of too vivid an imagination, views the abbey as a house of nightmarish horror — an aspect of the book that gleefully parodies the fantastic Gothic romances by Ann Radcliffe and other popular writers of the period. An amusing assortment of misunderstandings and plot twists result in the satisfying romantic conclusion characteristic of the author’s works.
First written in 1789-99, when Austen was in her early twenties, this novel, like Persuasion, did not see publication till 1818, in the winter after the author’s death. Distinguished by its satirical wit, brilliant comedy, and complex but subtle views of human nature and morality, the book also presents a fine background picture of middle-class life in nineteenth-century England, with particularly good scenes in Bath, the fashionable watering place to which Austen’s father, a clergyman himself, had retired. Northanger Abbey is a must-read for all Austen fans and students of English literature.

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Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet

One of Shakespeare’s most popular and accessible plays, Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two star-crossed lovers and the unhappy fate that befell them as a result of a long and bitter feud between their families. The play contains some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful and lyrical love poetry and is perhaps the finest celebration of the joys of young love ever written. This inexpensive edition includes the complete, unabridged text with explanatory footnotes. Ideal for classroom use, it is a wonderful addition to the home library of anyone wanting to savor one of literature’s most sublime paeans to love.

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Story of My Life
Story of My Life

When she was 19 months old, Helen Keller (1880–1968) suffered a severe illness that left her blind and deaf. Not long after, she also became mute. Her tenacious struggle to overcome these handicaps — with the help of her inspired teacher, Anne Sullivan — is one of the great stories of human courage and dedication. In this classic autobiography, first published in 1903, Miss Keller recounts the first 22 years of her life, including the magical moment at the water pump when, recognizing the connection between the word "water" and the cold liquid flowing over her hand, she realized that objects had names. Subsequent experiences were equally noteworthy: her joy at eventually learning to speak, her friendships with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edward Everett Hale and other notables, her education at Radcliffe (from which she graduated cum laude), and-underlying all-her extraordinary relationship with Miss Sullivan, who showed a remarkable genius for communicating with her eager and quick-to-learn pupil. These and many other aspects of Helen Keller's life are presented here in clear, straightforward prose full of wonderful descriptions and imagery that would do credit to a sighted writer. Completely devoid of self-pity, yet full of love and compassion for others, this deeply moving memoir offers an unforgettable portrait of one of the outstanding women of the twentieth century.

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The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories
The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories

Here are sixteen of the best stories by one of America’s most popular storytellers. For nearly a century, the work of O. Henry has delighted readers with its humor, irony and colorful, real-life settings. The writer’s own life had more than a touch of color and irony. Born William Sidney Porter in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1862, he worked on a Texas ranch, then as a bank teller in Austin, then as a reporter for the Houston “Post.” Adversity struck, however, when he was indicted for embezzlement of bank funds. Porter fled to New Orleans, then to Honduras before he was tried, convicted and imprisoned for the crime in 1898. In prison he began writing stories of Central America and the American Southwest that soon became popular with magazine readers. After his release Porter moved to New York City, where he continued writing stories under the pen name O.
HenryThough his work earned him an avid readership, O. Henry died in poverty and oblivion scarcely eight years after his arrival in New York. But in the treasury of stories he left behind are such classics of the genre as “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Last Leaf,” “The Ransom of Red Chief,” “The Voice of the City” and “The Cop and the Anthem” — all included in this choice selection. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

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The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man

First published in 1897, The Invisible Man ranks as one of the most famous scientific fantasies ever written. Part of a series of pseudoscientific romances written by H. G. Wells (1866–1946) early in his career, the novel helped establish the British author as one of the first and best writers of science fiction.
Wells’ years as a science student undoubtedly inspired a number of his early works, including this strikingly original novel. Set in turn-of-the-century England, the story focuses on Griffin, a scientist who has discovered the means to make himself invisible. His initial, almost comedic, adventures are soon overshadowed by the bizarre streak of terror he unleashes upon the inhabitants of a small village.
Notable for its sheer invention, suspense, and psychological nuance, The Invisible Man continues to enthrall science-fiction fans today as it did the reading public nearly 100 years ago.

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The Prince and the Pauper
The Prince and the Pauper

This treasured historical satire, played out in two very different socioeconomic worlds of 16th-century England, centers around the lives of two boys born in London on the same day: Edward, Prince of Wales, and Tom Canty, a street beggar. During a chance encounter, the two realize they are identical and, as a lark, decide to exchange clothes and roles — a situation that briefly, but drastically, alters the lives of both youngsters.
The Prince, dressed in rags, wanders about the city’s boisterous neighborhoods among the lower classes and endures a series of hardships; poor Tom, now living with the royals, is constantly filled with the dread of being discovered for who and what he really is.
Brimming with gentle humor and discerning social scrutiny, this timeless tale of transposed identities remains one of Twain’s most popular and best-loved novels.

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The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel

By 1792, the idealism of the French Revolution has degenerated into a Reign of Terror. Ruthless mobs rule the streets of Paris, and each day, hundreds of royalists are sacrificed to the guillotine, with hundreds more condemned to follow. Their only hope lies in rescue by the Scarlet Pimpernel, the daring leader of an English faction that spirits aristocrats across the Channel to safety. This historical adventure tale first appeared in 1905, but its irresistible blend of romance, intrigue, and suspense renders it timeless. Readers thrill to the gallantry of the Pimpernel, whose nom de guerre derives from the wildflower he employs as a calling card. A scourge to the French authorities, the Pimpernel is the darling of the people — particularly Marguerite Blakeney, who scorns her foppish husband, Sir Percy, as ardently as she admires the Pimpernel. The basis of a classic film, this ever-popular story has recently been adapted as a musical, to the delight of Broadway audiences.

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