The pencil note list

The finest Penguin vintage books


Vile Bodies

In the years following the First World War a new generation emerges, wistful and vulnerable beneath the glitter. The Bright Young Things of 'twenties Mayfair, with their paradoxical mix of innocence and sophistication, exercise their inventive minds and vile bodies in every kind of capricious escapade. In a quest for treasure, a favourite party occupation, a vivid assortment of characters hunt fast and furiously for ever greater sensations and the fulfilment of unconscious desires


IMG_4028.jpg

The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler created the fast talking, trouble seeking Californian private eye Philip Marlowe for his first great novel The Big Sleep in 1939.  Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out - and that's before he stumbles over the first corpse ...


Brighton Rock

Graham Greene’s chilling exposé of violence and gang warfare in the pre-war underworld is a classic of its kind.

Pinkie, a teenage gangster on the rise, is devoid of compassion or human feeling, despising weakness of both the spirit and the flesh. Responsible for the razor slashes that killed mob boss Kite and also for the death of Hale, a reporter who threatened the livelihood of the mob, Pinkie is the embodiment of calculated evil. As a Catholic, however, Pinkie is convinced that his retribution does not lie in human hands.

He is therefore not prepared for Ida Arnold, Hale’s avenging angel. Ida, whose allegiance is with life, the here and now, has her own ideas about the circumstances surrounding Hale’s death. For the sheer joy of it, she takes up the challenge of bringing the infernal Pinkie to an earthly kind of justice.


A room of ones own

A Room of One's Own, based on a lecture given at Girton College Cambridge, is one of the great feminist polemics. Woolf's blazing polemic on female creativity, the role of the writer, and the silent fate of Shakespeare's imaginary sister remains a powerful reminder of a woman's need for financial independence and intellectual freedom.


Wuthering Heights

In a house haunted by memories, the past is everywhere ... As darkness falls, a man caught in a snowstorm is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house Wuthering Heights. It is a place he will never forget. There he will come to learn the story of Cathy: how she was forced to choose between her well-meaning husband and the dangerous man she had loved since she was young. How her choice led to betrayal and terrible revenge - and continues to torment those in the present. How love can transgress authority, convention, even death. And how desire can kill.


IMG_4025.jpg

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Constance Chatterley feels trapped in her sexless marriage to the invalid Sir Clifford. Unable to fulfil his wife emotionally or physically, Clifford encourages her to have a liaison with a man of their own class. But Connie is attracted instead to her husband’s gamekeeper and embarks on a passionate affair that brings new life to her stifled existence. Can she find a true equality with Mellors, despite the vast gulf between their positions in society? One of the most controversial novels in English literature, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is an erotically charged and psychologically powerful depiction of relationships.


Our Man in Havana

MI6’s man in Havana is Wormold, a former vacuum-cleaner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job, he files bogus reports based on Charles Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeareand dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start coming disturbingly true…
 
First published in 1959 against the backdrop of the Cold War, Our Man in Havana remains one of Graham Greene’s most widely read novels. It is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire of government intelligence that still resonates today.