By Brooks Hanson
In the fall of 1900, Dr. Gustav Uyterhoeven left the chess garden that he and his wife, Sonja, had created together in Dayton, Ohio, and journeyed to South Africa to serve as a doctor in the British concentration camps of the Boer War. Over the next ten months he sent twelve chess pieces and twelve letters back to Sonja. She set out her husband's gifts as they arrived and welcomed all the most faithful guests of the garden to come and hear what he had written - letters which told nothing of his experience of the camps but described an imagined land called the Antipodes, where all the game pieces that cluttered the sets and drawers of the garden collection came to life to guide the doctor through his fateful and wondrous last adventure. Brooks Hansen offers a tale of spiritual progress disguised in the most exotic visions of the imagination. And yet The Chess Garden encompasses a very real world, too. Alongside the doctor's visions of the Antipodes, the story of his life gradually unfolds as well. History and allegory are expertly woven until finally both lead back to the chess garden itself, a place where ideas give way to vision, reason meets faith, and fact and figment are finally reconciled.
By Jules Verne
Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Jules Verne’s masterpiece. “Wide-eyed mid-nineteenth-century humanistic optimism in a breezy, blissfully readable translation by Stump” (Kirkus Reviews), here is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog who land in a balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings-on and their struggle to survive as they uncover the island’s secret.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
By Anne Fadiman
When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Greedy, piratical Colonel Pyncheon builds his mansion on ill-gotten ground, setting the stage for generations of suffering. Years later, a country cousin and an enigmatic young boarder attempt to reverse the tide of misfortunes surrounding the house in Hawthorne's evocative blend of mystery and romance.
By Daniel Defoe
The full title of Moll Flanders gives an apt summary of the plot: "The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who was born in Newgate, and during a life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest and died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums."
By Thomas Hardy
When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her 'cousin' Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and with its powerful criticism of social convention, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy's novels.
By Sir Walter Scott
The plans of Edgar, Master of Ravenswood to regain his ancient family estate from the corrupt Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland are frustrated by the complexities of the legal and political situations following the 1707 Act of Union, and by his passion for his enemy's beautiful daughter Lucy. First published in 1819, this intricate and searching romantic tragedy offers challenging insights into emotional and sexual politics, and demonstrates the shrewd way in which Scott presented his work as historical document, entertainment, and work of art.