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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!


marlene4boycie Mon 06-Jan-14 20:47:09

I have enjoyed Jonathan Franzen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Stuart Nadler (their books smile) recently.

BikeRunSki Mon 06-Jan-14 20:48:01

Iain Banks

The Paris Wife - Paula Mc ? Was excellent.

DoItTooJulia Mon 06-Jan-14 20:48:05

I read Cold Comfort Farm and it was a bit odd. Not unenjoyable, mind.

I've never heard of the Cazalet Chronicles....will be looking into them! I bed the Chalet school and Trebizon growing up and they sound like grown up versions??

EasterHoliday Mon 06-Jan-14 20:50:31

Special topics in calamity physics - Marisha Pessl
all Donna Tartt
everything Maggie O' Farrell or Esther Freud has written.
Evelyn Waugh
F.Scott Fitzgerald

MrsOakenshield Mon 06-Jan-14 20:53:08

no, no I wouldn't say that, in fact that comparison would never have occurred to me (I've read them Chalet School and Trebizon). I'm rereading them right now as I got the final one for Christmas (and she died just after Christmas which felt like a weird coincidence).

yegodsandlittlefishes Mon 06-Jan-14 20:56:53

Haha, I hated Cold Comfort Farm because I was given it as a joke while in a phase of loving the likes of Precious Bane and Silas Marner.

I've been reading Josephine Tey books and have found them to be a refreshing alternative to Agatha Christie. Have just started reading An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson which is very clever and thoroughly readable. It has Josephine Tey as the main character, and it was well worth reading some of Tey's books first. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Upson's books too now.

DoItTooJulia Mon 06-Jan-14 21:04:03

I'd love to reread the Chalet school (and Trebizon)!

MrsOakenshield Mon 06-Jan-14 21:07:48

I have nearly all the Chalet School books and to be honest, once you get past them shifting to Wales they become incredibly formulaic and the girls are the dullest bunch of goodytwoshoes you could ever wish for.

Oh, I loved CCF and Rufus Sewell was perfectly cast as the slutty Seth. I'd tumble is his hayloft without a second thought.

MrsEricBana Mon 06-Jan-14 21:15:45

Lionel Shriver - in descending order We Need to Talk About Kevin; So Much for That; The Post Birthday World
Donna Tartt - The Goldfinch; The Secret History
Kate Atkinson - Life After Life
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Ghanagirl Mon 06-Jan-14 21:18:59

Zadie smith

YesAnastasia Mon 06-Jan-14 21:25:51

I have a kindle (and a wish list) full of stuff I believe to be in this category.

I like to read the recommendations in The Sunday Times, that always gives me ideas.

These look interesting (to me at least...)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Infatuations by Javier Marías

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson & The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman are also 99p atm - I'm so glad I looked on my wish list now!!

Tell us what you go for smile

dreamingbohemian Mon 06-Jan-14 23:06:49

I couldn't deal with Wolf hall either, but Place of Greater Safety is one of my favourite books, so would still recommend it.

For non-fiction, how about Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London? A great read and totally relevant for today's world too.

highlandcoo Tue 07-Jan-14 09:50:53

Yy to Ann Patchett. If you like Barbara Kingsolver I'm sure you would enjoy her writing. Especially recommend Bel Canto and State of Wonder.

I've recently rediscovered Steinbeck and thought Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden were fantastic reads.

I don't think anyone's mentioned Rose Tremain? The Colour, Music and Silence and Restoration are all excellent. (Merivel, the sequel to Restoration, is now out but I haven't read it yet).

magimedi Tue 07-Jan-14 10:01:08

The Map of Love - Ahdaf Souief

Any Angela Huth - Wives of the Fishermen is my fave

Jewel in The Crown Quartet - Paul Scott

The Museum of Innocence - Orhan Pamuk

Sea of Poppies - Amitav Gosh

tumbletumble Tue 07-Jan-14 10:21:31

Many of the ones I'd recommend have been mentioned already (Maggie O'Farell, Anne Tyler, Penelope Lively, I Capture the Castle, Wolf Hall).

I also love Sarah Moss and Joanna Trollope (although she may be a bit too close to chick lit for you). Jojo Moyes ditto.

Have you ever tried Nancy Mitford? Fab.

How about Ian McEwan (Atonement and Sweet Tooth are my favourites), Khaled Hosseini or The Book Thief?

In 2013 I really enjoyed The Night Circus and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (a lot funnier than I expected).

For non fiction, I like Bill Bryson and recently enjoyed The Worst Journey in the World.

CQ Tue 07-Jan-14 10:33:31

Some great suggestions here, you mentioned upthread that you'd look at non-fiction & historical too.

My Dear, I wanted to Tell you is a great wartime novel, can't remember the author. It was recommended on MN ages ago and I loved it. Bereft when I finished it.

I love reading tales of people's amazing achievements, so I'm currently engrossed in Ranulph Fiennes' autobiog, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know. That man has done SO MUCH in his life, I wasn't even aware of half of it.

Also have on my 'to-read' pile The Last Fighting Tommy by Harry Patch. V relevant with the WW1 centenary kicking off now.

Schindler's Ark (List) by Thomas Keneally - harrowing and nerve wracking - he trod a brilliantly fine line between playing the Nazi's game and looking after his Jewish workers. I've never seen the film but really want to now.

Loved Bill Bryson's I'm a stranger here myself, about him returning to live in the USA after decades in England. I'd just returned to live here after 11 years abroad, so it really struck a chord with me.

SamU2 Tue 07-Jan-14 14:17:20

Just quickly looking at my goodreads list.. some of these might have already been mentioned.

The Weird Sisters- Elanor Brown
We are Water- Wally Lamb
State of Wonder- Ann Patchett
Rules of Civility - Amor Towles
The Spoils of Time series which was mentioned above about the publishing company by Penny Vincenzi
Necessary lies- Diane Chamberlain
Madame Tussaud- Michelle Moran
Daddy Long Legs- Jean Webster
Alice I have been- Melanie Benjamin
The Paris Wife- Paula Mclain

EasterHoliday Tue 07-Jan-14 14:42:38

yes Dreamingbohemian - Orwell! all of the novels are fantastic and there's some great comedy in Burmese Days / coming up for air.

Crowler Tue 07-Jan-14 15:44:59

OP did you like Tractors in the Ukraine?

Crowler Tue 07-Jan-14 15:45:18

I loved the Paris Wife.

SarahAndFuckTheResolutions Tue 07-Jan-14 17:04:43

I quite liked The Innocents by Francesca Segal, which is a modern day interpretation of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. It's set in the London Jewish community and it was a good read.

And I would highly recommend A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth, it's very good. Annie moves into a new house and becomes more interested than she should be in her neighbours, with some terrible results. If you take just one of my recommendations, make it this one smile

Similar but not quite so good is Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach. Leila knows everything about Tess, even though they have never met, as she is about to take over her identity.

Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller might also fit the theme, it's well worth a read if you haven't already.

DoItTooJulia Tue 07-Jan-14 18:14:48

Oh my word! Look at all of these responses!

There's plenty for me to trawl through here!

I really enjoyed the Amercan Wife. The Tractor one, not so much. It was ok, but readable!

I love 1984 (hence the bastardised nick name!) but have never read any of his other stuff, so will probably check out the NF one recommended above!

Thanks so much!

Campaspe Tue 07-Jan-14 18:50:10

Another vote for Penelope Lively and SUsan Hill here.

Also Sue Gee.

Campaspe Tue 07-Jan-14 18:50:47

And both of Grace McCleen's novels.

NotJustACigar Tue 07-Jan-14 18:57:06

Louise Doughty, particularly Apple Tree Yard. And have you read The Goldfinch by Donna Tart yet? Beautiful writing but easy to read- don't be put off by the length. Do you like Julian Barnes? David Mitchell?

Nonfiction is difficult to recommend as you don't mention your interests but I like popular science and can recommend Gulp by Mary Roach - it's about the alimentary canal, disgusting but hilarious, and the disgustingness isn't gratuitous. Also recommend the Epigenetics Revolution. And if you like cats, A Street Cat Named Bob is not exactly an intellectual heavyweight but is interesting and will make you smile.

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