Help me find a romance novel for my Granny
December 10, 2012 4:59 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for novels similar to Nicholas Sparks style, please?

Every year for 6 or 7 years now, my granny has requested the new Nicholas Sparks novel for Christmas. Apparently this year, he bailed on churning one out, so now I'm stuck on a gift for her. Amazon is recommending things with Zac Efron and the 50 Shades trilogy, which I will absolutely not be buying for her. She's 78, attends a Southern Baptist church, but votes for democrats. I've never read any of the Sparks books, but I'm guessing there's no explicit language or sex scenes, so something similar to that is what I'm looking for. Any ideas?
posted by chiababe to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
James Patterson wrote a few easy to read romances.

Sam's Love Letter to Jennifer, Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, and Sundays at Tiffany's.
posted by Fairchild at 5:27 AM on December 10, 2012

I would recommend the most recent Pat Conroy novel, South of Broad. While I have not personally read any Nicholas Sparks books, from conversations with fans of his I think this novel follows a similar genre to one of his most recent novels (the title escapes me right now).

Conroy is regarded as one of the best homegrown storytellers. His stories predominately take place in South Carolina, to Sparks' NC.

Good luck!
posted by Stan Grossman at 5:28 AM on December 10, 2012

Adriana Trigiani's Big Stone Gap is a possibility, and if she likes it there are several other books that follow it, though it's complete in and of itself.

As much as I love Pat Conroy - and it's a lot, I would not recommend him in this instance. The ongoing story deals with the longterm effect of a suicide and then the reveal of what caused it is particularly grim, especially for a 78 year old Southern Baptist lady who likes Nicholas Sparks.
posted by lemniskate at 5:46 AM on December 10, 2012

Has she read any Karen Kingsbury? When you said Southern Baptist, that author immediately came to mind because her stories are Christian-based. She's also written some Christmas-themed stories. Two other authors I would recommend for gentle reads are James Michael Pratt and Richard Paul Evans.
posted by Revie1 at 5:57 AM on December 10, 2012

Big Stone Gap is a good idea, I think, if you're looking to tonal similarities to Sparks. I like that suggestion. I don't exactly remember the language/sex levels, but I think they're suitable? I think?

But there are also straight-up genre romances, including Nora Roberts, that are treated like they're a little more low-rent than Sparks, but that might work also. I'm not sure what the heat level in the Sparks books is; I've read one or two, but I honestly forget how much they reflect the movie scenes. But you can find romances at all different explicitness levels. Just know what you're getting, because even ones that aren't advertised with all the heat-y, blaze-y imagery that tends to give the strongest hints can be pretty explicit. Don't want to put off Grandma, as you say.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:20 AM on December 10, 2012

She might like The Gazebo, by Emily Grayson.
posted by tracer at 8:25 AM on December 10, 2012

Here's the authors I put on a "If you like Nicholas Sparks, try these authors" list for my library:

Mitch Albom
Richard Paul Evans
Emily Grayson
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Lorna Landvik
K. C. McKinnon
James Michael Pratt
E. L. Swann
Robert James Waller.
posted by stampsgal at 8:40 AM on December 10, 2012

It's an oldie but I just finished A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute and it's definitely a sweet love story with no explicit sex or coarse language. I haven't read any Nicholas Sparks so I can't compare the two, unfortunately.
posted by jabes at 12:47 PM on December 10, 2012

Possession or the English Patient? I'm more thinking of "literary romance" than anything else, which may not entirely fit in with Sparks, but I think those two books were widely loved.
posted by lillygog at 6:13 AM on December 13, 2012

Thanks for the recommendations, everyone! I decided to go with The Gazebo by Emily Grayson. She's already read The English Patient (I remember she was thrilled when the movie came out), and I'm pretty sure she's got a whole collection of Pat Conroy's stuff, as is required as a resident of the Lowcountry. I hope Granny enjoys my selection.
posted by chiababe at 7:53 PM on December 18, 2012

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