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Novels between chick lit and highbrow

(69 Posts)
DoItTooJulia Mon 06-Jan-14 19:59:07

I hate chick lit and stuff that's too highbrow too, so what do I read?

I love Atwood, Kingsolver, Barnes, Allende. I don't mind a historical novel, never really ventured into fantasy, but I like a ripping good read!


ThreeBeeOneGee Mon 06-Jan-14 20:04:54

Just finished reading this, which might meet your requirements:

snugglesnook Mon 06-Jan-14 20:08:58

Penelope Lively - especially How It All Began.

EugenesAxe Mon 06-Jan-14 20:09:28

I kind of think Jane Austen is old fashioned chick-lit... dunno if that's 'highbrow'.

The Pillars of the Earth (Follett) is ripping good. Daphne du Maurier? Jilly Cooper is well written (I think - read 20 years ago) borderline chick lit. Also not just Bridget but Helen Fielding's other novels are pretty good - Cause Celeb for example. Could just try plain old Agatha Christie; Body in the Library and Murder in Mesopotamia being two of my favourites.

dreamingbohemian Mon 06-Jan-14 20:24:43

Oh I have this feeling too sometimes, great question

Some things I read in the last year...

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Good Squad

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (sorry forgot author)

Surprisingly: War and Peace. Not a heavy read at all.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson -- also his Baroque trilogy

Sharon Penman does some nice historical novels -- Sunne in Splendor is Edward IV/Richard III, and her Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy is pretty good.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

dreamingbohemian Mon 06-Jan-14 20:26:38

Oh and a classic -- the Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Really nice read.

Back2Two Mon 06-Jan-14 20:28:55

Patrick gale books
The book of human skin
Gone girl
The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold fry

DoItTooJulia Mon 06-Jan-14 20:29:17

Some great recommendations, thank you.

EugenesAxe, sorry, we've got crossed wires. I don't like chick lit. I want books somewhere between them and highbrow literature. I like a bit of highbrow every now and again. And I can cope with some of the more chick lit end of the scale every now and again.

KipperTheFish Mon 06-Jan-14 20:30:18

Hiw about Tracy Chevelier? She has written some fantastic 'not chick lit but not high brow' books: The Last Runaway, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Remarkable Creatures are all brilliant.

I also agree Sarah Waters books are excellent. Try Fingersmith, Affinity, The Night Watch.

Back2Two Mon 06-Jan-14 20:30:53

"Room"is an easy read too (a little bit grim but an excellent book)

DoItTooJulia Mon 06-Jan-14 20:30:57

Interestingly, I've read some of the things being suggested.

I should say I don't mind the odd bit of non fiction either!

Helpyourself Mon 06-Jan-14 20:31:55

Zola grin
I always recommend Zola as not only is he fantastic, there are dozens of them!

Helpyourself Mon 06-Jan-14 20:32:33

William Boyd?

PiratePanda Mon 06-Jan-14 20:33:51

Sharon Penman, Susan Howatch and Georgette Heyer. You might also like Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel.

AttackOfTheKillerMonsterSnowGo Mon 06-Jan-14 20:35:20

Any Patrick Gale or Helen Dunmore, Susan Hill.

Individual books, The Collector by John Fowels is on of my all time favourites.

Will bebackwhen not being strangled loved by toddler.

blackandwhiteandredallover Mon 06-Jan-14 20:36:41

Maggie O'Farrell?

LadyGreenTea Mon 06-Jan-14 20:38:45

Great books that I have read in recent years or that have stuck with me, that I think fall into your "inbetween" category...

Wolf Hall (Mantel)
Capital (John Lanchester)
Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides)
The Glass Room (Simon Mawer)
Freedom (Jonathan Franzen)
The Children's Book (Byatt)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Garcia Marquez)
The Northern Clemency (Philip Hensher)
Unless (Carol Shields)

I'd second Edith Wharton and also recommend House of Mirth; anything by Scott Fitzgerald (ok, maybe not the short stories); and I really love Anita Brookner's books, mostly her earlier ones.

I'm sure these are v predictable suggestions... but I'd be interested to see what others recommend along this line. Good post OP.

NigellasGuest Mon 06-Jan-14 20:39:04

Daphne du Maurier all the way!

alternatively, Alice Thomas Ellis?

MrsOakenshield Mon 06-Jan-14 20:41:49

Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet chronicles.

Penny Vincenzi did a very good series about a publishing house, half my books are in the loft so I can't remember what it was called.

I Capture the Castle
Cold Comfort Farm

Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth

William Boyd is great.

Annie Proulx's Shipping News

will keep thinking!

MrsOakenshield Mon 06-Jan-14 20:42:51

oh, absolutely Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies (the 2nd in the series), I always thought Hilary Mantel would be too highbrow for me but they are fantastic!!

exexpat Mon 06-Jan-14 20:43:13

I can think of several contemporary north American writers who might fit the bill: Anne Tyler, Ann Patchett (Bel Canto) or (veering more towards the popular fiction end) Elizabeth Berg. Have you read any Carol Shields?

notnowImreading Mon 06-Jan-14 20:43:44

Cazalet chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard, starting with The Light Years. Absolutely limpid clarity and interesting characters. I love them but there is no way on earth if have picked them up had I judged them by their covers: they look like real old-lady books. They're much sharper than that, though. They're about a large extended upper middle class family living in Sussex in the 30s and 40s with multiple narrators. Lovely on relationships and forensic about emotion.

MrsOakenshield Mon 06-Jan-14 20:44:22

Sarah Walters? Fingersmith, Tipping the Velvet.

notnowImreading Mon 06-Jan-14 20:44:37

Ooh, cross-posted with Mrs Oakenshield.

DoItTooJulia Mon 06-Jan-14 20:45:13

Ok, so I've read Room, Gone Girl, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Freedom, Tracey Chevalier and Sarah Waters, Harold Fry, The Hundred Year Old Man....,A Short History of Travtors in Ukranian.

I tried Wolf Hall and couldn't get on with it. I felt sure I'd love it, but no. I'd even bought Bring Up The Bodies to read straight after!

Interesting suggestions though, they're in my amazon baskets!

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