Recommend a novel for my vacation
August 12, 2021 9:04 AM   Subscribe

This is an old standard - seeking a literary or semi-literary page-turner for my vacation. I haven't had time to read a novel in ages. My own preferences are inside.

Some favorite authors are Emma Donaghue (Room) Miriam Toews (A Complicated Kindness), Barbara Kingsolver (The PoisonWood Bible), Sue Monk (The Secret Life of Bees), you get it. I tend to love my Canadian women writers the best.

On the other hand, I'm kind of craving something similar to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Irreverent family drama? Or, with Toews unusual and quirky (for lack of a better word) characters. So, I'm sorry this is vague but please throw some stuff at me and I'll see what sticks.

*Sorry, I am not a fan of science fiction or fantasy*
posted by kitcat to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Crome Yellow!!

It's short, bring a back up book.
posted by phunniemee at 9:12 AM on August 12, 2021

Your favorite authors lead me to think that (if you haven't read it already, as it was very popular) you might like Where the Crawdads Sing.
posted by gaspode at 9:16 AM on August 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Where the Crawdads Sing is literally the last novel I read, so good call gaspode.
posted by kitcat at 9:48 AM on August 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Dostoyevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov”
posted by slimeline at 10:07 AM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Have you read any Ann Patchett? Not Canadian but might feel right. I really liked The Dutch House, and she has a lot of good non-fiction out there.

Zoe Whittall is Canadian - even wrote for Schitt's Creek for a bit - I liked her The Best Kind of People quite a lot. Def. family drama.
posted by wellred at 10:09 AM on August 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

I’d highly recommend Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Checks many of your boxes.

Not Canadian, but I’d also recommend Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. It was recommended in another thread and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
posted by trigger at 10:25 AM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

A few things I recently loved (and my tastes are similar):
Both Circe and Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Literary but compulsively readable.
Hamnet and Judith by Maggie O'Farrell.
posted by sonofsnark at 10:26 AM on August 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Try ROOST by Ali Bryan! She’s a Canadian author and the novel is funny, poignant, poetic, and very readable.
posted by alicat at 10:56 AM on August 12, 2021

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a long read, but still a page turner. You will get a handful of very quirky characters, including my favorite, Boris!
posted by oxisos at 11:15 AM on August 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

Some of my stand-out reads from the past year which might work for you:
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Door by Magda Szabo
posted by esoterrica at 11:38 AM on August 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Emma Donaghue's latest just came out in paperback
posted by brujita at 1:08 PM on August 12, 2021

Fall on your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald (warning: sad, but really, really good).

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Anything by Sarah Waters (Fingersmith has the largest cast/family probably)

It's been a while since I read it, but The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber? I remember reading it on vacation and enjoying.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sarah Collins

A Dark adapted eye by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) - super complex family dynamics and secrets. Also excellent for family history/complex story over time is Asta's Book, by the same author. Any Barbara Vine should work to be honest - I wish I could read them for the first time again!

+1 to the vanishing half. +1 to Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine (I just bought a copy for a friend this week)

Also, for something a little lighter with a mystery and some truly excellent characterisation - The Appeal by Janice Hallet is in my top 5 books of the year so far...

Looking forward to checking out the other recommendations.
posted by sedimentary_deer at 1:11 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Margaret Atwood? Maybe too serious-minded for what you are looking for, but I thought The Blind Assassin was basically perfection.

Seconding The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (I liked this much better than Room), Circe by Madeline Miller, and Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell.
posted by basalganglia at 2:48 PM on August 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel was my fave vacation semi-literary doorstop this year: it's excellent and exquisite. Better than 'Wolf Hall' and the second forgettable book (I think you could skip them). Rather poetic writing style that made me take a breath at moments. Note: Tudor-era questionable characters doing dubious things...
posted by ovvl at 3:34 PM on August 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

If you're looking for an irreverent family drama, I'd recommend Extinction by Thomas Bernhard.
posted by perhapses at 5:03 PM on August 12, 2021

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (I think I got the author correct). It's been a while since I was able to get sucked into a story and also really enjoy the style of writing. There is an Amelia Earhart type plotline and some great characters.
posted by orangemacky at 7:03 PM on August 12, 2021

Ann-Marie Macdonald
Lynn Coady
Christy Ann Conlin
posted by miles1972 at 7:58 PM on August 12, 2021

Seconding Ann Patchett (Bel Canto is a favorite) and Margaret Atwood. Circe is a delight. Louise Erdrich is a fantastic writer. But my #1 recommendation for you is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (a Canadian and the best book I've read in 10 years)
posted by emd3737 at 8:48 PM on August 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ooh, I would recommend the Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall trilogy, anything by Meg Wolitzer, or anything by Katherine Heiny (I just finished Early Morning Riser, and it is so so so good.)
posted by Ollie at 4:17 AM on August 13, 2021

Such A Fun Age. So entertaining and easy to read, but such real subject matter.
posted by reksb at 1:15 PM on December 1, 2021

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