The seemingly peaceful country village of Hayslope is the setting for this ambitious first novel by George Eliot. Adam Bede addresses profound questions of morality, religion, and the role of women in society, while at the same time seeking to establish a new aesthetic for fiction.
Read by: David Case.
Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Intended at first as a simple story of a boy's adventures in the Mississippi Valley, the book grew and matured under Twain's hand into a work of immeasurable richness and complexity. More than a century after its publication, the critical debate over the symbolic significance of Huck's and Jim's voyage is still fresh, and it remains a major work that can be enjoyed at many levels: as an incomparable adventure story and as a classic of American humor.
Read by: Dick Hill.
The story, set in 1920's England, examines the wealthy Flyte family through the eyes of Sebastian Flyte's less wealthy school friend Charles Ryder, who is eventually tempted into an extra-marital affair with Sebastian's sister, Lady Julia.
Read by: Jeremy Irons.
The story of survival depicted through a half St. Bernard and half Scottish shepherd dog named Buck. Stolen from his domestic home and thrown forcibly into the harsh and wild northern California woods, Buck must learn how to withstand the elements and fight to endure.
Read by: Patrick Lawlor.
Charles Dickens' 1850 classic epic, David Copperfield, unfolds the story of David, an optimistic and hard-working lad who's orphaned in his youth. Raised initially by his brutal stepfather, who halts David's schooling and sends him to work in a factory, David eventually finds a home with his eccentric, but kind aunt, Betsey. Later in life, David trains for a career in law, but eventually becomes a writer.
Read by: Simon Vance.
Stacy Keach and Jane Kaczmarek stars in Arthur Miller's 1949 masterpiece, a searing portrait of the physical, emotional, and psychological costs of the American dream. Willy Loman (Keach) is the play's iconic traveling salesman, whose family is torn apart by his desperate obsession with greatness and social acceptance. As his two sons cast about aimlessly for their station in life, Willy begins to come unraveled when the reality of his life threatens his long-cherished illusions.
An L.A. Theatre Works production.
Bathtub gin, flappers and house parties that last all week enliven Fitzgerald's classic tale. Stylish and engaging, "The Great Gatsby" is also a startling literate portrait of Gatsby's search for meaning in his opulent world.
Read by: Tim Robbins and Robert Sean Leonard
The Pyncheons, having lived for generations under the curse of a supposed witch who once occupied the land on which the family mansion was built, gain a new lease on life with the arrival of young Phoebe Pyncheon from the country.
Read by: Donada Peters.
When Paris of Troy fell in love with Helen of Sparta and took her to his homeland, the princes of Greece launched a fleet of a thousand ships filled with armed men to bring her back. Led by Helen's brother-in-law, Agamemnon, this immense force would besiege Troy for 10 years in a staggering effort to rescue the princess. The Iliad is the story of Achilles, the greatest warrior of this decade-long war, and his desperate but ultimately futile battle against the once magnificent city.
Read by: Alfred Molina.
On a freezing February day, a stranger emerges from out of the gray to request a room at a local provincial inn. Who is this out-of-season traveler? More confounding is the thick mask of bandages obscuring his face. Why does he disguise himself in this manner and keep himself hidden away in his room? Aroused by trepidation and curiosity, the local villagers bring it upon themselves to find the answers. What they discover is a man trapped in a terror of his own creation, and a chilling reflection of the unsolvable mysteries of their own souls.
Read by: James Adams.
A documentary novel portraying industry's conditions at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Sinclair's novel prompted public outrage which led President Theodore Roosevelt to demand an official investigation. This eventually led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug laws.
Read by: Robert Morris.
A lord, his wife, her admirer and an infamous blackmailer converge in the irreverent satire that launched Wilde's succession of classic social comedies. This delicious comic feast serves up a scandal about good girls, bad husbands and hilarious hypocrisy-- utterly contemporary and divinely funny.
An L.A. Theater Works production.
Angered by the values of his materialistic society, Hawk-eye lives apart from the other white men, sharing the solitude and sublimity of the wilderness with his Mohican Indian friend, Chingachgook. As the savageries of war test these exiled men, they agree to guide two sisters in search of their father through hostile Indian country – even if it means risking everything. An enduring American classic, The Last of the Mohicans is a fast-paced portrait of fierce individualism and courage, set against massacres, raids, battles and a doomed love affair. It is also the unforgettable story of the friendship between two men.
Read by: Larry McKeever.
In a delightful series of adventures, Nicholas, the hearty young hero, takes us on a journey through nineteenth-century England accompanied by some of Dickens's best swaggering scoundrels and most unforgettable eccentrics. From the dungeon-like Yorkshire boys' boarding school run by the cruel Wackford Squeers to the high-spirited stage of Vincent Crummles's extraordinary acting troupe, Nicholas Nickleby is a triumph of the imagination and a marvelously energetic work bursting with scenes of brilliant color, luminous humor, and poignant social commentary.
Read by: Simon Vance.
In the Musketeers' final adventure, D'Artagnan remains in the service of the corrupt King Louis XIV after his companions have retired and gone their separate ways. Meanwhile, a mysterious prisoner in an iron mask wastes away deep inside the Bastille. When the destinies of king and prisoner converge, the Three Musketeers and D'Artagnan find themselves caught between conflicting loyalities.
Read by: Geoffrey Sherman.
Thomas Hardy's exploration of his most tragic hero, Michael Henchard, is the classic tale of over-ambition. From his drunken sale of his wife and baby at a country fair, to his subjugation of a farming village, Henchard's life is an epic attempt to bring the world to heel as he hides even from himself all vestiges of emotional vulnerability.
Read by: Anton Lesser.
Holmes's deductions turn out to be wrong, the first appearance of the detective's brother Mycroft, and Watson's report of Holmes's death at the hands of Professor Moriarty are of note in this second set of adventure tales featuring the world's first consulting detective.
Read by: Simon Prebble.
One of the great works of 19th-century England as well as one of the masterpieces of English fiction, this novel is set in the Midlands, 1830-32, in the fictitious town of Middlemarch. It is concerned with the blighted marriage of a young idealistic woman, but also presents a vivid portrait of England during the Georgian era.
Read by: Juliet Stevenson.
BBC Audiobooks edition, read by by Maureen O'Brien.
Ishmael, Queequeg, and Starbuck of the whaling ship Pequod watch on as the driven - and perhaps mad - Captain Ahab pushes ship and crew around Good Hope, and 'round the Horn, and 'round the Norway Maelstrom, and 'round perdition's flames in his doomed quest to hunt down the eponymous Great White Whale.
Read by: William Hootkins.
Willa Cather's My Ántonia is considered one of the most significant American novels of the twentieth century. Set during the great migration west to settle the plains of the North American continent, the narrative follows Ántonia Shimerda, a pioneer who comes to Nebraska as a child and grows with the country, inspiring a childhood friend, Jim Burden, to write her life story.
Read by: Patrick Lawlor.
This is one of the earliest novels of industrial alienation, tellingly linked to the plight of 19th-century women. It tells of the relationship between Margaret Hale, a girl from the old rural south, and John Thornton, a mill owner from the new industrial north.
Read by: Juliet Stevenson.
Catherine Morland is the very ideal of a nice girl from a happy family, but she has an overactive imagination. She is also obsessed with Gothic novels, where terrible things happen to the heroine, which gets her into all sorts of trouble. When she meets funny, sharp Henry Tilney, she's instantly taken with him. But when she is invited to his home, the sinister Northanger Abbey, her preoccupation with fantasy starts to get in the way of reality.
Read by: Anna Massey.
After orphan Oliver Twist asks for more food, he has to flee the workhouse and ends up on the streets of London. There he meets the Artful Dodger, who leads him to Fagin and his gang of pickpockets. When a thieving mission goes wrong, Oliver narrowly avoids prison and finds himself in the care of kind Mr. Brownlow. But Fagin and the brutal Bill Sikes go in search of the young orphan, determined to drag him back. A full-cast performance.
Adela Quested is a plucky young woman who journeys from England with the free-spirited Mrs. Moore. Flouting convention, the two women accompany the handsome Dr. Azis on a tour of the mysterious Marabar Caves. But things turn ugly when Adela returns scratched and bloodied from the expedition. As British authorities urge her to press charges against Aziz, the line separating truth and fantasy begin to blur.
Read by: Sam Dastor.
The classic story of class-conscious eighteenth-century England and the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The clash between opinionated Elizabeth and proud Mr. Darcy is set against a backdrop of wonderful minor characters and the social system in which they all live.
Read by: Josephine Bailey.
In 1950s Chicago, three generations of Youngers live in a run-down apartment. As these black Americans struggle to overcome a variety of challenges, hope suddenly looms on the horizon. The family's matriarch is poised to receive insurance money from her husband's death.
A full-cast performance from L.A. Theatre Works.
Feeling disillusioned and depressed after World War I, Larry Darrell doesn't feel able to rejoin the mainstream of American life. He goes on a personal quest to seek the answers to questions that plague him. What is the best way to live? What constitutes a good life? From Illinois to Paris to India, Darrell - and everyone around him - try to find what it is they should be looking for.
Read by: Michael Page.
Following the enormous success of 'The Thin Man' movie in 1934, Hammett was commissioned to write stories for additional films. He wrote two full-length novellas for the films that became 'After the Thin Man' and 'Another Thin Man,' in which he brought back his classic characters, retired private investigator Nick Charles and his former debutante wife Nora, written with classic, barbed Hammett dialogue.
Multi-voiced narration with Peter Ganim as Nick, Nicola Barber as Nora and Scott Brick as the narrator.
A charming youn English woman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints in the arms of a fellow Brit when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson -- who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist -- Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor, and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future.
Read by: Joanna David.
Set in the harsh Puritan environment of 17th century Boston, "The scarlet letter" describes the plight of Hester Prynne, an independent-minded woman who stands alone against society. Having given birth to a child after an illicit affair, she refuses to name the father and is forced to wear the letter "A" for adulteress embroidered on her dress.
Read by: Kristen Underwood.
London tells the vivid story of a gentleman scholar, Humphrey Van Weyden, who is rescued by a seal-hunting schooner after a ferryboat accident in San Francisco Bay. London uses Van Weyden's ordeal at the hands of a schooner's devious crew to explore powerful themes of ambition, courage, and the innate will to survive. The Sea-Wolf also introduces Jack London's most memorable, fully realized character, Wolf Larsen, the schooner's brutal captain, who ruthlessly crushes anyone standing in his way.
Read by: Dick Hill.
The stage has been set for a typical Gothic romance: A half-ruined mansion on a lonely moor offers sanctuary to a mysterious heroine fleeing a degenerate husband. Written in 1848, this novel by the youngest of the Bronte sisters is probably a better book than posterity has acknowledged. Its poignant, feminist overtones alone would appeal to today's readers. Although the writing is naturally dated, two experienced narrators have transformed the stilted prose into live-action drama. (Library Journal)
Read by: Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter.
An historical romance, this novel tells of the adventures of the hot-headed young Gascon nobleman, d'Artagnan, and his three companions Athos, Porthos and Aramis as they gallantly defend the Queen of France, using their wit and their swords. Narrator: Michael Page.
Scout Finch, daughter of the town lawyer Atticus, has just started school; but her carefree days come to an end when a black man in town is accused of raping a white woman, and her father is the only man willing to defend him. Narrator: Sissy Spacek.
"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's." When massive, intelligent aliens from Mars touch down in Victorian England and threaten to destroy the civilized world, humanity's vaunted knowledge proves to be of little use. Narrator: Simon Vance.
Part wolf and part dog, orphaned White Fang relies on his instincts as well as his inborn strength and courage to survive in the Yukon wilderness despite both animal and human predators; however, Fang eventually comes to make his peace with humans. Narrator: Jonathan Kent.