Year 12 Transition: English Literature

New Students Summer Induction 2021

If you are a student who is planning to study A Level English Literature this September, then welcome.  It’s a truly extraordinary time and probably particularly so for you, the second cohort of GCSE students to miss taking their actual exams.

Anyway, trusting that you are well, here are some things that you might want to look at over the summer. The books are only suggestions; the important thing is that you are reading for pleasure. The guide to the course is to give you an idea of what is to come, not for you to pre-teach yourself.

The most important thing is that you and your family are well.  We look forward to seeing you as soon as “normal” resumes.

Suggested Reading for Pleasure

Very varied mix here – do some googling before choosing to see what grabs you but do venture outside of your comfort zone too!

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

‘What we did was terrible, but still I don’t think any of us were bad, exactly; chalk it up to weakness on my part, hubris on Henry’s, too much Greek prose composition – whatever you like.’

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of morality, their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of a boy named Kevin who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who had tried to befriend him. Now, two years after her son’s horrific rampage, Eva comes to terms with her role as Kevin’s mother in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband Franklyn about their son’s upbringing.

The Colour Purple – Alice Walker

Set in the deep American South between the wars, The Color Purple is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

One of the greatest gothic love stories of all time, JANE EYRE tells of a lowly, plain governess who falls in love with the dashing Mr Rochester – who hides a terrible secret. An epic romance set on the Yorkshire moors, and a book that young girls will return to again and again.

The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

“I was supposed to be having the time of my life.”

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into serious depression as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take her aspirations seriously

Normal People – Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.

Normal People is a story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.

Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller

From the first day that the beguiling Sheba Hart joins the staff of St George’s history teacher Barbara Covett is convinced she has found a kindred spirit. Barbara’s loyalty to her new friend is passionate and unstinting and when Sheba is discovered having an illicit affair with one of her pupils, Barbara quickly elects herself as Sheba’s chief defender. But all is not as it first seems in this dark story and, as Sheba will soon discover, a friend can be just as treacherous as any lover.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flyn

Who are you?

What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Fingersmith – Sarah Walters

Susan was brought up like Oliver Twist in a house of thieves – the fingersmiths. She was cared for and loved. She gets involved in an elaborate plan to defraud an heiress of her inheritance but becomes more attached to the victim than she expected. Great twists that I didn’t see coming. An interesting setting and well thought out plot. Really enjoyable literary page-turner that also has some dark moments.

Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh

Abhorrently dark and raw to the core, Trainspotting is an insight into one of life’s many ugly personalities ― addiction and the accompanying domino effect of grim inevitabilities… Irvine Welsh’s novel will always be a cult classic.

Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

Every weekend, in basements and parking lots across the country, young men with good white-collar jobs and absent fathers take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded for as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter and dark, anarchic genius.


The A Level Course

See here for more information:

In Year 12 we study:

A Shakespeare play. It could be:

  • Coriolanus
  • Hamlet
  • Measure for Measure
  • Richard III
  • The Tempest
  • Twelfth Night

Check this out:

19th and 20/21st century poetry – you get a lot of choice here.  Try dipping your toes in here:

A play

The choices for the plays and poetry are between the following but for coursework you get a lot of free CHOICE:

  • Christopher Marlowe: Edward II
  • John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi
  • Oliver Goldsmith: She Stoops to Conquer
  • Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House
  • Oscar Wilde: An Ideal Husband
  • Geoffrey Chaucer: The Merchant’s Prologue and Tale
  • John Milton: Paradise Lost, Books 9 & 10
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selected Poems*
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Maud
  • Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems*