Occasionally a novel lingers and is worth sharing. Listed randomly below are a few novels that have made an impression on me either as an adult or as a child.
Merivel – Rose Tremain. Profound, moving, witty and often very funny, I sobbed reading this sequel to another favourite, Restoration.
Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin. Epic. My fourteen year old nephew introduced me to the series and I was quickly hooked. This rich and absorbing world is set in a bloodthirsty age of knights and chivalry and full of memorable, multidimensional characters that struggle for control of a divided kingdom. The fantasy books have kept me up late a lot! (T.V series equally gripping).
The Border Trilogy, The Road – Cormac McCarthy.
Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller. Vivid and startling, I love his voice.
Black Sunday by Thomas Harris. Brilliant thriller. Still feels very current even though it was written in 1975.
Restoration by Rose Tremain. Don’t bother with the film.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Profound and movie. You will weep.
The Comfort of Strangers, Black Dogs, The Innocent by Ian McEwan. Disturbing but he’s the master of ratcheting up the tension.
The Regeneration Trilogies by Pat Barker. Such strong male voices make you forget the novelist is a woman.
John Case – The Syndrome. Grabbed me from the start.
Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.
Follow your Heart by Suzanna Tamaro.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Wish I’d written it.
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart. A Caldecott Honor book I used to read to my boys when they were little. It didn’t matter how many times I read it, the ending would always make me cry.
The Harry Potters by JK Rowling. I shared my boys fixation with the series.
The Secret History by Donna Tart. I tried reading this on a hot Summer’s day but couldn’t get into it, then resurrected it six months later and carried it around everywhere like a newly cherished friend.
Yargo by Jacqueline Suzanne. Read as a teenager.
Soft by Rupert Thompson. An underrated writer.
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. I don’t often read non fiction and I’m not a fan of mountain climbing but this was such a powerful account of a man being pushed to the very edge. I gave it to all my male friends for Christmas that year.
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Told in free verse by a fourteen year old girl, this is about a family caught up in the Oklahoma dustbowl. Haunting.
The Stand In by Debra Moggach. Very different style to her other books but I loved this one. Definitely one for the beach.
Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff. The novel deals with Alzheimer’s and he nails it. (most recently)
Then by Julie Myerson
Possession by A.S Byatt. I was selling a flat at the time and the book sat on my desk. I kept trying to get into it, without success and all the time prospective buyers would pick it up and tell me how wonderful it was and how much they envied me still having it to read. The turning point came about 100 pages in. I laboured to get there, but it was worth the effort.
Almost Heaven and John Dollar by Marianne Wiggin (she doesn’t do happy endings but her books are compelling and she has a highly original voice.)
Complicity by Ian Banks
The Collector by John Fowles
When the Light Gets In and This is How by M.J Hyland. Wonderful novelist who writes with crisp, spare prose.
The Weight of Water and The last Time We Met by Anita Shreve. Must be read in that order as the two novels connect. When I read the latter it took a while to get into it but by the end I was weeping. I later met Anita Shreve at a library reading in Duxbury, MA and quizzed her for ten minutes while she signed both books.
Rupture by Simon Lelic. Chillingly plausible.
The Outcast by Sadie Jones. An accomplished first novel.
All the early Jilly Coopers. Bella was the first. It spoke to the teenager in me. I loved it.
Any Human Heart by William Boyd. Read on holiday. I cried.
Alice Munro, generally.
Come and tell me some lies by Raffaella Barker.
Hide and Seek – Clare Sambrook. Hard to read a book about the loss of a child, but this one resonated.
Dirt Music by Tim Winton
Knock Three Times. A much loved children’s book that I still have on my shelf.
A blow to the heart by Marcel Theroux
The Crysaldids by John Wyndam. My first taste of Science Fiction. I was thirteen.
Love that Dog by Sharon Creech. A bite-sized book, it’s unique and lovely and pulls at the heart.