Reader name: Anna
Hometown: Plainwell, MI
Favorite genre: family drama, popular fiction
Favorite authors: Richard Russo, Mary McGarry Morris, Robert Morgan, Louise Erdrich, Amy Tan, Elizabeth Strout, Jane Kirkpatrick
Favorite books: A Fine Balance, The Whistling Season, Bridge of Sighs, Songs in Ordinary Time, Peace Like A River, The Bonesetter’s Daughter
There are many books we could recommend about family drama—especially family drama set in a small-town setting—but I’ll limit this list to a few novels that are particular BookPage favorites:
I like Leah Stewart so much that I nearly missed half of a recent vacation to Argentina because I preferred to sit indoors with my nose stuck inside of Husband and Wife. The story is about what happens when a husband (a novelist) cheats on his wife (a poet) . . . then writes a book called Infidelity. As you might imagine, the wife’s world comes tumbling down, but Stewart’s story is thankfully not predictable. It’s about how a relationship changes with time and with children, and how two artists balance family demands with their creative pursuits. Read an interview with Stewart to find out how she came to write about this book—and whether she identifies with the characters herself.
In her three published novels, Lily King has become known for her exploration of family. Her most recent book, Father of the Rain, addresses a type of relationship that receives, perhaps, less “page time” than it should: that of a father and daughter. This powerful, emotional story addresses alcoholism, divorce, interracial dating and the evolution of an imperfect parent-child relationship. We think it’s King’s best book yet. Read an interview with the author to learn why she chose to write about a father and daughter.
Joshilyn Jackson is one of our favorite storytellers—Southern, or otherwise—and perhaps nobody does gut-wrenching sadness mixed with laugh-out-loud humor better. While you wait to read A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, try Between, Georgia, a small-town story of a family feud in Georgia (of course). This story has it all: redemption, love, tragedy and a memorable Southern setting. In 2006, a BookPage reviewer called this one “one of this decade’s most commendable novels.”
Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, but I want to recommend her most recent book, Private Life. This is yet another story that explores the dynamics and sacrifices of a marriage, but this family drama is anything but mundane. The story takes readers from the 1880s until World War II, from a small town in Missouri to San Francisco—and intimately inside the world of one woman’s “private life.” The paperback came out in June, so this would be an excellent book club pick, too.
What books do you think Anna should read, based on her list of favorites?
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