In A Little Princess (1905), Francis Hodgson Burnett creates a turn-of-the-century London-based Cinderella story. The protagonist, Sara Crewe, is a truly remarkable heroine. Although raised with extravagant wealth and spoiled with whatever servants, toys, clothes, and so forth she could desire, she remained kind, pleasant, sensitive, and polite. But reading of a perfectly spoiled child,

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Miss Buncle is an aging old maid in a boring town in the suburbia of London, 1930s. When she finds herself in need of funds, she decides to earn some money by writing a novel. Miss Buncle’s book causes waves in the careful social fabric of the small town because she has written about the

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Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson (to be published October 2012 by Basic Books) captures not just culinary history but cultural history, describing the foods eaten throughout history based on the tools available to prepare them.

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In Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (published 1814), Fanny Price was the oldest daughter of a poor family, sent at age 10 to live with her generous and wealthy Bertram cousins. Yet, in the lovely Mansfield Park, Fanny was constantly reminded of her lesser status and spent her days for the most part assisting the lazy

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Bleak House (published serially 1852-1853) is a sweeping saga of epic proportions. Charles Dickens obviously planned the plot carefully, especially by providing introduction and characters for the bulk of the first third of the novel, so that the last third of the novel would swiftly move to a satisfying conclusion that ties all the previously

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At first, The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar reminded me of The Help. Obviously, given the very different settings, the book was very different as a whole from The Help. But I loved reading about the friendship and lives of two very different women. The book was beautifully written, and although the realistic issues

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Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a story of two children’s growing understanding of the double standards of the world. It’s also the story of a small community struggling to come together during the economic era of the Great Depression and the political upheaval of a mixed racial pre-Civil Rights southern town. It is

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