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Women's Fiction


Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice Lowest new price: $3.92
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Author: Jane Austen
Brand: Jane Austen

Austen's most popular novel, the unforgettable story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy

Few have failed to be charmed by the witty and independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s beloved classic Pride and Prejudice. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows us the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life. This Penguin Classics edition, based on Austen's first edition, contains the original Penguin Classics introduction by Tony Tanner and an updated introduction and notes by Viven Jones.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Next to the exhortation at the beginning of Moby-Dick, "Call me Ishmael," the first sentence of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice must be among the most quoted in literature. And certainly what Melville did for whaling Austen does for marriage--tracing the intricacies (not to mention the economics) of 19th-century British mating rituals with a sure hand and an unblinking eye. As usual, Austen trains her sights on a country village and a few families--in this case, the Bennets, the Philips, and the Lucases. Into their midst comes Mr. Bingley, a single man of good fortune, and his friend, Mr. Darcy, who is even richer. Mrs. Bennet, who married above her station, sees their arrival as an opportunity to marry off at least one of her five daughters. Bingley is complaisant and easily charmed by the eldest Bennet girl, Jane; Darcy, however, is harder to please. Put off by Mrs. Bennet's vulgarity and the untoward behavior of the three younger daughters, he is unable to see the true worth of the older girls, Jane and Elizabeth. His excessive pride offends Lizzy, who is more than willing to believe the worst that other people have to say of him; when George Wickham, a soldier stationed in the village, does indeed have a discreditable tale to tell, his words fall on fertile ground.

Having set up the central misunderstanding of the novel, Austen then brings in her cast of fascinating secondary characters: Mr. Collins, the sycophantic clergyman who aspires to Lizzy's hand but settles for her best friend, Charlotte, instead; Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy's insufferably snobbish aunt; and the Gardiners, Jane and Elizabeth's low-born but noble-hearted aunt and uncle. Some of Austen's best comedy comes from mixing and matching these representatives of different classes and economic strata, demonstrating the hypocrisy at the heart of so many social interactions. And though the novel is rife with romantic misunderstandings, rejected proposals, disastrous elopements, and a requisite happy ending for those who deserve one, Austen never gets so carried away with the romance that she loses sight of the hard economic realities of 19th-century matrimonial maneuvering. Good marriages for penniless girls such as the Bennets are hard to come by, and even Lizzy, who comes to sincerely value Mr. Darcy, remarks when asked when she first began to love him: "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." She may be joking, but there's more than a little truth to her sentiment, as well. Jane Austen considered Elizabeth Bennet "as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print". Readers of Pride and Prejudice would be hard-pressed to disagree. --Alix Wilber

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Stay with Me: A novel

Stay with Me: A novel Lowest new price: $16.52
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Author: Ayobami Adebayo

"A stunning debut novel." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

This celebrated, unforgettable first novel (“A bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit.” –The Guardian), shortlisted for the prestigious Bailey’s Prize and set in Nigeria, gives voice to both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage--and the forces that threaten to tear it apart.
 

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage--after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures--Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time--until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does--but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

An Amazon Best Book of August 2017: “This book nearly destroyed me; you gotta read it." That’s what a colleague said to me about Ayobami Adebayo’s searing debut novel, Stay with Me (and not sadistically!). Taking place in Nigeria, it's the story of Yejide and Akin--a young married couple who are experiencing fertility issues. When the in-laws’ solution is a second wife, they conspire separately to save their relationship, with devastating consequences. I quickly gathered what my colleague meant--much of this novel is a series of unfortunate events. So much so, and sometimes to such cinematic extremes, that when Adebayo interjects humor into the narrative, it’s easily mistaken for something sinister (even when it involves breastfeeding a goat). But her gift is making these extremes make sense. After all, it’s some of our most intimate and profound struggles that can compel us to react in the craziest of ways—ways that just might destroy what was meant to be preserved. Adebayo is such a skilled storyteller that you will forgive Yejide and Akin some serious trespasses; you will weep for their once-happy union that buckles so spectacularly beneath the weight of cultural pressures--pressures that warp their sense of what constitutes a worthwhile life. The couple’s efforts to disentangle their true desires from the ones tradition and society have foisted upon them is what imbues Stay with Me with unexpected power, and heart. You definitely gotta read it. --Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review

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The Cast: A Novel

The Cast: A Novel Lowest new price: $26.09
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Author: Danielle Steel

#1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel follows a talented and creative woman as she launches her first television series, helping to recruit an unforgettable cast that will bring a dramatic family saga to the screen.

Kait Whittier has built her magazine column into a hugely respected read followed by fans across the country. She loves her work and adores her grown children, treasuring the time they spend together. But after two marriages, she prefers to avoid the complications and uncertainties of a new love.

Then, after a chance meeting with Zack Winter, a television producer visiting Manhattan from Los Angeles, everything changes. Inspired by the true story of her own indomitable grandmother, Kait creates the storyline for a TV series. And when she shares her work with Zack, he is impressed and decides to make this his next big-budget project.

Within weeks, Kait is plunged into a colorful world of actors and industry pros who will bring her vision to life. A cool, competent director. An eccentric young screenwriter. A world-famous actress coping with private tragedy. A reclusive grande dame from Hollywood’s Golden Age. A sizzling starlet whose ego outstrips her abilities. L.A.’s latest “bad boy” actor, whose affairs are setting the city on fire. An unknown ingénue with outsized talent. And a rugged, legendary leading man. As secrets are shared, the cast becomes a second family for Kait. But in the midst of this charmed year, she is suddenly forced to confront the greatest challenge a mother could ever know.

The strength of women—across generations and among friends, colleagues, and family—takes center stage in this irresistible novel, as all-too-real people find the courage to persevere in life’s drama of heartbreak and joy.

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Kindred

Kindred Lowest new price: $6.99
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Author: Octavia E. Butler
Brand: Beacon Press

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

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The Night Circus

The Night Circus Lowest new price: $4.32
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Author: Erin Morgenstern
Brand: PowerbookMedic

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Q&A with Author Erin Morgenstern

Q. This is a lovely and unique story. Why a circus? How did this story first come to you—through a character, a plotline, an emotion?

A. The story came as a location created out of desperation. I was working on a different story altogether, one that was becoming progressively more and more boring because nothing was happening. I needed something exciting to happen and I couldn't figure out how to do it with the locations I had so I sent the characters to the circus. That circus was immediately much more interesting and eventually I abandoned that other story and its characters entirely and focused on the circus instead. What eventually became The Night Circus started from exploring that spontaneously-created location, figuring out who created it and who performed in it and what its story was.

Q. What was your inspiration for some of the amazing acts in this circus?

A. Some of them were traditional circus acts or attractions made a bit more unique, like the acrobats performing directly overhead or the carousel that doesn't simply go in circles. The Cloud Maze is a play on a climbing maze I hazily recall from childhood visits to the Boston Children's Museum. Other tents were created based on color, or lack thereof. I had a lot of dark tents and wanted something lighter and white, the Ice Garden developed from that relatively simple starting point.

Q. Do you have a favorite character?

A. It's impossible to pick a true favorite, though Poppet & Widget are very dear to my heart as they're the first of the characters to turn up in my imagination. They're also just plain fun, both individually and as a pair.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of developing this story?

A. It didn't have a plot for a very long time. Really, my biggest challenge was finding the actual story within all the atmosphere. I had the place and the characters and the feel of the book long before it had a proper story structure to tie everything together. The novel went through a great many revisions before it figured out what it wanted to be, I tried things that didn't work and then things that sort of worked and replaced old ideas with new ones until I got it right.

Q. Is there an emotion that you had to spend a lot of time with that made you uncomfortable?

A. I'm an emotional sort of person in general and I have a vivid imagination, so I feel the whole spectrum of emotion strongly when I write. It's something I'm used to, though, so nothing in particular made me uncomfortable. There is a lot of frustration felt by various characters, which is not the nicest emotion to be spending a lot of time with, but it helps to drive characters to actions which bring different emotions along.

Q. Tell me about your writing life. Do you have any rituals?

A. I binge write. I think it's because I started seriously writing by participating in National Novel Writing Month, an online-based challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I don't have as tight a time limit anymore but I still write in long marathon sessions and then I won't write for a while, I'm not a write-every-day writer. I go back and forth between input phases where I'm reading a lot or trying to get out and explore the world a bit and soak up inspirations and then I'll get back into output mode and write and write and write.

I don't have any particular rituals, I sometimes like to write in longhand when I'm searching for ideas but I do the vast majority by typing, I can't always keep up with my thoughts longhand. I'm not a coffeeshop writer because I feel obliged to order more coffee and then I end up over-caffeinated.

Q. What's the one true thing you learned from your characters in this novel?

A. I think it's something that I knew already but explored more with these characters, that nothing is as simple as black or white, good or evil. There are all those shades of grey and everyone acts from a place that they see as right and true. (Though they are allowed to change their minds.)

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The House of Unexpected Sisters: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (18) (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series)

The House of Unexpected Sisters: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (18) (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series) Lowest new price: $17.07
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Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Precious Ramotswe learns valuable lessons about first impressions and forgiveness in this latest installment of the beloved and best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.
 
Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are approached by their part-time colleague, Mr. Polopetsi, with a troubling story: a woman, accused of being rude to a valued customer, has been wrongly dismissed from her job at an office furniture store. Never one to let an act of injustice go unanswered, Mma Ramotswe begins to investigate, but soon discovers unexpected information that causes her to reluctantly change her views about the case.

Other surprises await our intrepid proprietress in the course of her inquiries. Mma Ramotswe is puzzled when she happens to hear of a local nurse named Mingie Ramotswe. She thought she knew everybody by the name of Ramotswe, and that they were all related. Who is this mystery lady? Then, she is alerted by Mma Potokwani that an unpleasant figure from her past has recently been spotted in town. Mma Ramotswe does her best to avoid the man, but it seems that he may have returned to Botswana specifically to seek her out. What could he want from her?

With the generosity and good humor that guide all her endeavors, Mma Ramotswe will untangle these questions for herself and for her loved ones, ultimately bringing to light important truths about friendship and family—both the one you’re born with and the one you choose.

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Holly and Ivy

Holly and Ivy Lowest new price: $10.00
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Author: Fern Michaels

In a heartwarming novel of secret wishes and family lost and found, acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels creates a timeless Christmas story to cherish . . .
 
The flames of memory always seem to glow a little brighter during the holidays. Perhaps that’s why this time of year is so difficult for airline heiress Ivy Macintosh, as she faces thoughts of yet another festive season alone. Since the plane crash that claimed the lives of her husband and two children eight years ago, she’s been submerged in grief.
 
When eleven-year-old Holly Greenwood knocks on her door, lost and frightened after a forbidden visit to her singing teacher, Ivy’s self-imposed exile is shattered. Holly has an extraordinary voice, and wants nothing more than to perform in an upcoming Christmas musical. Holly’s father, Daniel, doesn’t allow music in their home, refusing to give a good reason why—just as he refuses to talk about Holly’s mother. Ivy has no idea how closely she and Daniel are linked by their tragic pasts, yet she’s drawn to the warmth she senses beneath his gruff exterior. And as Christmas nears, their shared concern for Holly begins to draw Ivy back into the world again . . . and toward a family who may need her just as much as she needs them . . .

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Second Chance Girl: A Modern Fairy Tale Romance (Happily Inc)

Second Chance Girl: A Modern Fairy Tale Romance (Happily Inc) Lowest new price: $2.44
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Author: Susan Mallery
Brand: HQN Books

From the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Susan Mallery, read the second irresistible installment in the Happily Inc. series!

Mathias Mitchell's easy smile hides a world of hurt. After the worst kind of family betrayal, he moves to Happily Inc., California—the wedding destination town supplies a steady stream of bridesmaids, perfect for his “no promises, no pain” lifestyle. Yet he can't stop watching for his beautiful, elusive neighbor on the animal preserve behind their homes.

Gamekeeper Carol Lund knows she's not special enough to attract an alpha male like Mathias, so his offer to help her adopt a herd for her lonely giraffe is surprising—and his determined seduction, even more so. But just as she finally welcomes him into her bed, his careless actions crush her heart. Will she give him a second chance to prove she'll always come first in his heart?

Don't miss You Say It First, the first book in Happily Inc.

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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale Lowest new price: $12.55
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Author: Margaret Atwood

Now a Hulu Original Series

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.

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The Rent Collector

The Rent Collector Lowest new price: $9.59
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Author: Camron Wright

Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the ill-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money--a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one womans journey to save her son and another womans chance at redemption. It demonstrates that even in a dump in Cambodia--perhaps especially in a dump in Cambodia--everyone deserves a second chance.

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