Need Book Suggestions Please
November 22, 2014 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Our recent cold, drizzly weather has me wanting to to curl up with a good book, but not just ANY good book, really specific specifics inside.

First, looking for female protagonists (female authors preferred but not a deal breaker). I'm in the mood for stories where the female protagonist is in a foreign (to her) place and discovers a mystery. Not really interested in stories set post 1920's but again, not a deal breaker if you have a really good one set in more modern times. Young adult or adult novels are fine. The only examples I can think of off hand of books in this vein that I have liked would be The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase (and similar) by Joan Aiken, and Possession by A S Byatt. I don't know why I have this oh-so-specific hankering. I need something that's going to make being trapped indoors all Saturday long, OK.
posted by WalkerWestridge to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix fits the bill pretty well.

Also, the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde . The first one's more "Discover mystery, trace mystery to foreign place"; the later books have more of "in a foreign place, discover mystery".

Both are set in "not modern times" (Old Kingdom is fantasy with a 1920s feel; Thursday Next is "modern" but alternate universe).
posted by damayanti at 2:33 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

My first thoughts were two books by Sharyn McCrumb - She Walks These Hills and The Ballad of Frankie Silver.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:36 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mrs. Pollifax, maybe?
posted by Duffington at 2:47 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dianne Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale -- closer to Possession, with the story starting in a more modern present, but much of the action taking place in the past.
posted by gladly at 3:05 PM on November 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman is a definite recommendation.
posted by fallingleaves at 3:11 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Amelia Peabody series? English woman goes to Egypt in 1884 and solves mysteries, written by a female author. A bit on the quirky side but very enjoyable.
posted by carolr at 3:26 PM on November 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Would Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood scratch that urge? Or how about Rebecca or Jamaica Inn by Daphne de Maurier? The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins springs to mind, although there's less of an out-of-place feeling to it. Finally, I could imagine nothing better than curling up with Dorothy L. Sayer's Gaudy Night on a cold Saturday night (more Harriet Vane, less Peter Wimsey).
posted by kariebookish at 3:27 PM on November 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

The Crimson Petal and The White by Michel Faber is just insanely, grippingly good

Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

The Observations, by Jane Harris

The Quick, by Laura Owen

The Vanishing, by Wendy Webb

The Psychick Book of Deliverance Dane is not one I have read but it sounds a bit like Possession.

The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton
posted by zoomorphic at 4:08 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

mmmmm seconding Gaudy Night it's the perfect book
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:25 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Mary Russell books by Laurie King.
The stories are set between 1915 and the late 1920s, mainly in England but extending to Scotland, Wales, Palestine, northern India, California, Portugal, and Morocco. They begin with fifteen year-old Mary Russell (she was born on 2 January 1900), who runs into a middle-aged individual she realizes is, in fact, Sherlock Holmes...
They're really about her and he is an accompanying character. I've only read a few but I really enjoy them.
posted by jessamyn at 4:28 PM on November 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Villette! VILLETTE.

It's so weird and mysterious and gothic. Lucy Snow is the strangest and the greatest. Read it!
posted by rabbitbookworm at 4:42 PM on November 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Nthing Rebecca.
posted by holborne at 5:52 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Two possibilities that are set outside of your timeline, but are great nonetheless:

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
posted by twoporedomain at 6:54 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Mary Russell books! You are in for a major treat. Read them in order, starting with The Beekeeper's Apprentice. The later books aren't as good as the earlier ones. Also, don't read too many reviews since they'll give away a major plot point.. Don't read the wikipedia article.. Just order TBA stat and enjoy.
posted by nemutdero at 9:18 PM on November 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed The Winter Sea and The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley. Both stories follow a contemporary woman as she tries to unravel the mystery of another woman in the distant past, early 1700's Scotland in the former and mid-1700's Russia in the latter. The two stories share some overlapping characters and timeline, so I'd recommend starting with The Winter Sea first.
posted by platinum at 11:55 AM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about Carol McCleary's Nellie Bly books? The first, The Alchemy of Murder, features the redoubtable Miss Bly rubbing shoulders in 19th-century Paris with an interesting variety of luminaries while she hunts down a maniacal murderer. The second involves a confounding mystery that starts in Egypt and follows our heroine around the world. I haven't been able to get hold of the third and fourth yet, but the first two are certainly a delight.

Seconding Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody books, too.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:16 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who answered, I have a great list going! Can't wait to try a bunch of these!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:58 AM on December 5, 2014

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