SWAMPLANDIA!

Swamplandia! is a 2011 novel by Karen Russell. Set in the Ten Thousand Islands, off the southwest coast of Florida, it is the story of the Bigtree family of alligator wrestlers who live on Swamplandia!, an alligator-wrestling theme park.Swamplandia! is Russell’s first novel. The book originated as a short story, titled “Ava Wrestles the Alligator”, published in the Summer 2006 issue of the literary magazine Zoetrope: All-Story, when Russell was 24 years old.


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THE GOLDFINCH

The Goldfiinch (2013) is the third novel by American author Donna Tartt, her first new book in 11 years. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014 among other honors.
The novel is a Bildungsroman told in the first person by Theodore Decker who, at the age of 13, survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum in which his beloved mother dies. Staggering out through the debris, he takes with him a small, Dutch Golden Age painting, The Goldfinch, which will serve as a singular source of hope as he descends into a world of crime. The painting is one of the few surviving works by Rembrandt’s most promising pupil, Carel Fabritius; almost his entire oeuvre was destroyed in the Delft explosion of 1654, in which Fabritius was killed.

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ATONEMENT

Atonement is a 2001 British metafiction novel written by Ian McEwan concerning the understanding and responding to the need for personal atonement. Set in three time periods, 1935 England, Second World War England and France, and present-day England, it covers an upper-class girl’s half-innocent mistake that ruins lives; her adulthood in the shadow of that mistake; and a reflection on the nature of writing.

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MIDDLESEX

Middlesex is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides published in 2002.  Middlesex spans the lives of three generations of the Stephanides family. Protagonist Calliope (Cal) Stephanides undergoes a spiritual rebirth as he comes to terms with his family’s history and how it inevitably led to his hermaphroditic birth. The story takes place in 1922 in Bithynios, Greece. Lefty and Desdemona Stephanides, brother and sister, have lost their parents in the recent war with Turkey. They have an unhealthy attraction to one another. When the Turks move to reclaim their village, Lefty and Desdemona flee, traveling first to Smyrna and then sailing to America. Along the way, they pick up an Armenian, Dr. Philobosian, who lost his entire family in the Turkish invasion. Being anonymous on the ship, Lefty and Desdemona act out an elaborate courtship and get married….

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DAVID COPPERFIELD

David Copperfield is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens. The novel’s full title is, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account). It was first published as a serial in 1849–50, and as a book in 1850. Many elements of the novel follow events in Dickens’ own life, and it is often considered as his veiled autobiography. It was Dickens’ favorite among his own novels. In the preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens wrote, “like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.

PLOT

The story follows the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, England, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years in relative happiness with his loving, childish mother and their kindly housekeeper, Peggotty. When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. During the marriage, partly to get him out of the way and partly because he strongly objects to the whole proceeding, David is sent to lodge with Peggotty’s family in Yarmouth. Her brother, fisherman Mr Peggotty, lives in a house built in an upturned boat on the beach, with his adopted relatives Emily and Ham, and an elderly widow, Mrs Gummidge. “Little Em’ly” is somewhat spoilt by her fond foster father, and David is in love with her. On his return, David is given good reason to dislike his stepfather and has similar feelings for Murdstone’s sister Jane, who moves into the house soon afterwards. Between them they tyrannise his poor mother, making her and David’s lives miserable, and when, in consequence, David falls behind in his studies, Murdstone attempts to thrash him – partly to further pain his mother. David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to a boarding school, Salem House, under a ruthless headmaster, Mr. Creakle. There he befriends an older boy, James Steerforth, and Tommy Traddles. He develops an impassioned admiration for Steerforth, perceiving him as something noble, who could do great things if he would.
David goes home for the holidays to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die, and David returns home immediately. Peggotty marries the local carrier, Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work for a wine merchant in London – a business of which Murdstone is a joint owner. David’s landlord, Wilkins Micawber, is arrested for debt and sent to the King’s Bench Prison, where he remains for several months, before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for David in London, so he decides to run away.
He walks from London to Dover, to his only relative, his eccentric yet kind-hearted great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. She had come to Blunderstone at his birth, only to depart in ire upon learning that he was not a girl. However, she takes pity on him and agrees to raise him, despite Murdstone’s attempt to regain custody of David, on condition that he always tries to ‘be as like his sister, Betsey Trotwood’ as he can be, meaning that he is to endeavour to emulate the prospective namesake she was disappointed of. David’s great-aunt renames him “Trotwood Copperfield” and addresses him as “Trot”, and it becomes one of several names which David is called by in the course of the novel.
David’s aunt sends him to a far better school than the last he attended. It is run by Dr Strong, whose methods inculcate honour and self-reliance in his pupils. During term, David lodges with the lawyer Mr Wickfield, and his daughter Agnes, who becomes David’s friend and confidante. Wickfield has a secretary, the 15-year-old Uriah Heep.
By devious means Uriah Heep gradually gains a complete ascendancy over the aging and alcoholic Wickfield, to Agnes’ great sorrow. Heep hopes, and maliciously confides to David, that he aspires to marry Agnes. Ultimately with the aid of Micawber, who has been employed by Heep as a secretary, his fraudulent behaviour is revealed. At the end of the book, David meets him in a prison, for attempting to defraud the Bank of England.
After completing school, David learns to be a proctor. During this time, due to Heep’s fraudulent activities, his aunt’s fortune has gone down. David begins struggle for his life. He joins in employment under his former teacher Doctor Strong, as a secretary and also starts to learn shorthand, with the help of his former school-friend Traddles. Upon learning shorthand, he joins in a newspaper for parliementary debate reporting. With considerable help from Agnes and his own great diligence, hard work and discipline, David ultimately finds fame and fortune as an author, by writing fiction.
David’s romantic but self-serving school friend, Steerforth, seduces and dishonours Emily, offering to marry her off to one of his servants before finally deserting her. Her uncle Mr Peggotty manages to find her with the help of London prostitute Martha, who had grown up in their county. Ham, who had been engaged to marry her before the tragedy, died in a storm off the coast in attempting to succour a ship; Steerforth was aboard the same and also died. Mr Peggotty takes Emily to a new life in Australia, accompanied by Mrs. Gummidge and the Micawbers, where all eventually find security and happiness.
David marries the beautiful but naïve Dora Spenlow, but their marriage proves unhappy for David. Dora dies early in their marriage. After Dora’s death, Agnes encourages David to return to normal life and his profession of writing. While living in Switzerland, David realizes that he loves Agnes. Upon returning to England, after a failed attempt to conceal his feelings, David finds that Agnes loves him too. They quickly marry and in this marriage he finds true happiness. David and Agnes then have at least five children, including a daughter named after his great-aunt, Betsey Trotwood.

Download the book: David Copperfield.pdf

CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS

Captains Courageous is an 1897 novel, by Rudyard Kipling, that follows the adventures of fifteen-year-old Harvey Cheyne Jr., the spoiled son of a railroad tycoon, after he is saved from drowning by a Portuguese fisherman in the north Atlantic. The novel originally appeared as a serialisation in McClure’s, beginning with the November 1896 edition. In 1900, in his essay “What We Can Expect of the American Boy,” Teddy Roosevelt extolled the book and praised Kipling for describing “in the liveliest way just what a boy should be and do.”
The book’s title comes from the ballad “Mary Ambree”, which starts, “When captains courageous, whom death could not daunt”. Kipling had previously used the same title for an article on businessmen as the new adventurers, published in The Times of 23 November 1892.

PLOT SUMMARY

Protagonist Harvey Cheyne, Jr., is the son of a wealthy railroad magnate and his wife, in San Diego, California. Washed overboard from a transatlantic steamship and rescued by fishermen off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Harvey can neither persuade them to take him quickly to port, nor convince them of his wealth. Harvey accuses the captain, Disko Troop of taking his money (which we later learn was found on the deck he fell from.) Disko Troop, captain of the We’re Here, bloodies his nose but takes him in as a boy on the crew until they return to port. Harvey comes to accept his situation.
Through a series of trials and adventures, Harvey, with the help of the captain’s son Dan Troop, becomes acclimated to the fishing lifestyle, and even skillful. Great stories of the cod fishery with references to New England whaling and 19th century steam and sailing are intertwined with the “We’re Here”s adventures during a season at sea. Eventually, the schooner returns to port and Harvey wires his parents, who immediately hasten to Boston, Massachusetts, and thence to the fishing town of Gloucester to recover him. There, Harvey’s mother rewards the seaman Manuel, who initially rescued her son; Harvey’s father hires Dan to work on his prestigious tea clipper fleet; and Harvey goes to Stanford to prepare for taking over his father’s shipping lines.

Download the book: Captain Courageous.pdf

THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (or, in more recent editions, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885.

Plot summary

In Missouri

The story begins in fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri (based on the actual town of Hannibal, Missouri), on the shore of the Mississippi River “forty to fifty years ago” (the novel having been published in 1884). Huckleberry “Huck” Finn (the protagonist and first-person narrator) and his friend, Thomas “Tom” Sawyer, have each come into a considerable sum of money as a result of their earlier adventures (detailed in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). Huck explains how he is placed under the guardianship of the Widow Douglas, who, together with her stringent sister, Miss Watson, are attempting to “sivilize” him and teach him religion. Finding civilized life confining, his spirits are raised somewhat when Tom Sawyer helps him to escape one night past Miss Watson’s slave Jim, to meet up with Tom’s gang of self-proclaimed “robbers.” Just as the gang’s activities begin to bore Huck, he is suddenly interrupted by the reappearance of his shiftless father, “Pap”, an abusive alcoholic. Knowing that Pap would only spend the money on alcohol, Huck is successful in preventing Pap from acquiring his fortune; however, Pap kidnaps Huck and leaves town with him.

In Illinois and on Jackson’s Island

Pap forcibly moves Huck to his isolated cabin in the woods along the Illinois shoreline. Because of Pap’s drunken violence and imprisonment of Huck inside the cabin, Huck, during one of his father’s absences, elaborately fakes his own death, escapes from the cabin, and sets off down river. He settles comfortably, on Jackson’s Island. Here, Huck reunites with Jim, Miss Watson’s slave. Jim has also run away after he overheard Miss Watson planning to sell him “down the river” to presumably more brutal owners. Jim plans to make his way to the town of Cairo in Illinois, a free state, so that he can later buy the rest of his enslaved family’s freedom. At first, Huck is conflicted about the sin and crime of supporting a runaway slave, but as the two talk in depth and bond over their mutually held superstitions, Huck emotionally connects with Jim, who increasingly becomes Huck’s close friend and guardian. After heavy flooding on the river, the two find a raft (which they keep) as well as an entire house floating on the river. Entering the house to seek loot, Jim finds the naked body of a dead man lying on the floor, shot in the back. He prevents Huck from viewing the corpse.
To find out the latest news in town, Huck dresses as a girl and enters the house of Judith Loftus, a woman new to the area. Huck learns from her about the news of his own supposed murder; Pap was initially blamed, but since Jim ran away he is also a suspect and a reward for Jim’s capture has initiated a manhunt. Mrs. Loftus becomes increasingly suspicious that Huck is a boy, finally proving it by a series of tests. Once he is exposed, she nevertheless allows him to leave her home without commotion, not realizing that he is the allegedly murdered boy they have just been discussing. Huck returns to Jim to tell him the news and that a search party is coming to Jackson’s Island that very night. The two hastily load up the raft and depart.
After a while, Huck and Jim come across a grounded steamship. Searching it, they stumble upon two thieves discussing murdering a third, but they flee before being noticed. They are later separated in a fog, making Jim intensely anxious, and when they reunite, Huck tricks Jim into thinking he dreamed the entire incident. Jim is not deceived for long, and is deeply hurt that his friend should have teased him so mercilessly. Huck becomes remorseful and apologizes to Jim, though his conscience troubles him about humbling himself to a black man.

In Kentucky: the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons

Travelling onward, Huck and Jim’s raft is struck by a passing steamship, again separating the two. Huck is given shelter on the Kentucky side of the river by the Grangerfords, an “aristocratic” family. He befriends Buck Grangerford, a boy about his age, and learns that the Grangerfords are engaged in a 30-year blood feud against another family, the Shepherdsons. The Grangerfords and Shepherdsons go to the same church, which ironically preaches brotherly love. The vendetta finally comes to a head when Buck’s older sister elopes with a member of the Shepherdson clan. In the resulting conflict, all the Grangerford males from this branch of the family are shot and killed, including Buck, whose horrific murder Huck witnesses. He is immensely relieved to be reunited with Jim, who has since recovered and repaired the raft.

In Arkansas: the duke and the king

Near the Arkansas-Missouri-Tennessee border, Jim and Huck take two on-the-run grifters aboard the raft. The younger man, who is about thirty, introduces himself as the long-lost son of an English duke (the Duke of Bridgewater). The older one, about seventy, then trumps this outrageous claim by alleging that he himself is the Lost Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and rightful King of France. The “duke” and “king” soon become permanent passengers on Jim and Huck’s raft, committing a series of confidence schemes upon unsuspecting locals all along their journey. To divert suspicions from the public away from Jim, they pose him as recaptured slave runaway, but later paint him up entirely blue and call him the “Sick Arab” so that he can move about the raft without bindings.
On one occasion, the swindlers advertise a three-night engagement of a play called “The Royal Nonesuch”. The play turns out to be only a couple of minutes’ worth of an absurd, bawdy sham. On the afternoon of the first performance, a drunk called Boggs is shot dead by a gentleman named Colonel Sherburn; a lynch mob forms to retaliate against Sherburn; and Sherburn, surrounded at his home, disperses the mob by making a defiant speech describing how true lynching should be done. By the third night of “The Royal Nonesuch”, the townspeople prepare for their revenge on the duke and king for their money-making scam, but the two cleverly skip town together with Huck and Jim just before the performance begins.
In the next town, the two swindlers then impersonate brothers of Peter Wilks, a recently deceased man of property. To match accounts of Wilks’s brothers, the king attempts an English accent and the duke pretends to be a deaf-mute, while starting to collect Wilks’s inheritance. Huck decides that Wilks’s three orphaned nieces, who treat Huck with kindness, do not deserve to be cheated thus and so he tries to retrieve for them the stolen inheritance. In a desperate moment, Huck is forced to hide the money in Wilks’s coffin, which is abruptly buried the next morning. The arrival of two new men who seem to be the real brothers throws everything into confusion, so that the townspeople decide to dig up the coffin in order to determine which are the true brothers, but, with everyone else distracted, Huck leaves for the raft, hoping to never see the duke and king again. Suddenly, though, the two villains return, much to Huck’s despair. When Huck is finally able to get away a second time, he finds to his horror that the swindlers have sold Jim away to a family that intends to return him to his proper owner for the reward. Defying his conscience and accepting the negative religious consequences he expects for his actions—”All right, then, I’ll go to hell!”—Huck resolves to free Jim once and for all.

On the Phelps’ farm

Huck learns that Jim is being held at the plantation of Silas and Sally Phelps. The family’s nephew, Tom, is expected for a visit at the same time as Huck’s arrival, so Huck is mistaken for Tom and welcomed into their home. He plays along, hoping to find Jim’s location and free him; in a surprising plot twist, it is revealed that the expected nephew is in fact Tom Sawyer. When Huck intercepts the real Tom Sawyer on the road and tells him everything, Tom decides to join Huck’s scheme, pretending to be his own younger half-brother, Sid, while Huck continues pretending to be Tom. In the meantime, Jim has told the family about the two grifters and the new plan for “The Royal Nonesuch”, and so the townspeople capture the duke and king, who are then tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.
Rather than simply sneaking Jim out of the shed where he is being held, Tom develops an elaborate plan to free him, involving secret messages, a hidden tunnel, snakes in a shed, a rope ladder sent in Jim’s food, and other elements from adventure books he has read, including an anonymous note to the Phelps warning them of the whole scheme. During the actual escape and resulting pursuit, Tom is shot in the leg, while Jim remains by his side, risking recapture rather than completing his escape alone. Although a local doctor admires Jim’s decency, he has Jim arrested in his sleep and returned to the Phelps. After this, events quickly resolve themselves. Tom’s Aunt Polly arrives and reveals Huck and Tom’s true identities to the Phelps family. Jim is revealed to be a free man: Miss Watson died two months earlier and freed Jim in her will, but Tom (who already knew this) chose not to reveal this information to Huck so that he could come up with an artful rescue plan for Jim. Jim tells Huck that Huck’s father (Pap Finn) has been dead for some time (he was the dead man they found earlier in the floating house), and so Huck may now return safely to St. Petersburg. Huck declares that he is quite glad to be done writing his story, and despite Sally’s plans to adopt and civilize him, he intends to flee west to Indian Territory.

Download the book: The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.pdf