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Loved Cazalet Chronicles and Nancy Mitford - what next?

(28 Posts)
TiesThatBind Tue 01-Dec-15 23:25:47

I mainly read non- fiction, but would love to read more fiction. I struggle with "clever" writing, I just love good stories, ideally set in the past.

Previous favourites include:
Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard
All of Nancy Mitford's work
Crimson, Petal and the White by Faber
Pillars of the Earth and the Century Triology by Ken Follet
Most Jeffery Archer while travelling

Any ideas of what else might suit? I'd love to read something slightly more highbrow, but that I could still get lost in.

Enjoyed reading most of Austen and Gaskell when I was younger, but wouldn't want to reread them.

Thank you!

Preminstreltension Thu 03-Dec-15 22:48:48

Diary of a Provincial Lady is lovely. It's sort of Nancy Mitford meets Adrian Mole. Not high brow tho.

In terms of griping read I totally got lost in The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. It has a family saga type structure but is about an unconventional woman.

tumbletumble Thu 03-Dec-15 22:52:52

I'm a big Nancy Mitford fan too OP.

How about:
I Capture the Castle
Joanna Trollope
The Great Gatsby

Bunbaker Thu 03-Dec-15 23:04:24

We have the same tastes Ties

I would suggest the Wideacre Trilogy by Philippa Gregory
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Tipping the Velvet also by Sarah Waters

Themodernuriahheep Thu 03-Dec-15 23:07:55

Cold comfort farm by Stella gibbons. But you have to realise it's a spoof of Mary Webb's Precious Bane etc, and John Cowper Powys. As funny as Mitford.

PerspicaciaTick Thu 03-Dec-15 23:09:26

Cold Comfort Farm.
Miss Pettigrew lives for a day.
You might like Dorothy L Sayers books, very evocative of their time and I find the relationship between Harriet and Wimsey across the books very compelling...but they are basically crime books.

FrinkingIt Thu 03-Dec-15 23:11:51

Funnily enough I read the complete Nancy Mitford and the Cazalet Chronicles while endlessly BF DS2 last year.

I hankered after similar stuff so I followed those up with Elizabeth Jane Howard's novels and those of Barbara Pym.

You could also try Elizabeth Taylor - she writes of middle England in the earlier part of last century with a very acute female eye.

FrinkingIt Thu 03-Dec-15 23:16:09

(Warming to theme now) There a few other novels by Dodie Smith along the lines of I Capture the Castle - The Town in Bloom, The New Moon and The Old, It Ends With Revelations etc.

Rumer Godden - The Greengage Summer

Possibly Angela Thirkell?

PerspicaciaTick Thu 03-Dec-15 23:18:20

EM Forster is very good too. Try A Passage to India.
And if you want something contemporary with Jane Austen try Fanny Burney or Maria Edgeworth.

FrinkingIt Thu 03-Dec-15 23:27:34

Shadow of the Moon
The Far Pavilions

Historical fiction set in the days of the Victorian Raj, female author, great storytelling, very straightforward and engrossing.

I re-read those every few years and have done since I was about 13. It's a dose of escapism. Comfort reading I call it.

Littleonesaid Thu 03-Dec-15 23:35:44

You could try Jessica Mitford's 'Hons and Rebels'. It is autobiographical but apparently heavily embellished and a good read.

Cedar03 Fri 04-Dec-15 11:03:09

A Suitable Boy? Set in India in the 1950s (I think its a while since I've read it). But its a good read, don't be put off by the number of pages in the book.

Another vote for Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Taylor. Also could try Sybille Bedford.

BoboChic Fri 04-Dec-15 11:09:21

Another fan of The Cazalet Chronicles. Coim Toibin?

KatherineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 04-Dec-15 12:04:40

My dear Lady Kroesig, I have only read one book in my life, and that is ‘White Fang.’ It’s so frightfully good I’ve never bothered to read another.

(Give Cold Comfort Farm a try, if you haven't already. Got it as a birthday present, and it's bloody funny)

CastaDiva Fri 04-Dec-15 17:42:10

The Mitfords' letters to one another are unexpectedly hilarious - there was a recent whacking great edition of them.

My fiction suggestion would be Molly Keane (who also wrote as a younger woman as MJ Farrell) - start with her Good Behaviour, which is a black, black comedy of manners set in a series of English and Anglo-Irish Big Houses, narrated by a hilariously self-deluding spinster daughter. If you like that, try her Loving and Giving (published in some places as Queen Lear) and Time After Time. All very black social comedies set in Anglo-Irish Big Houses among huntin' shootin', fishin' types, and brilliantly written. And there are lots of others from her younger days as MJ Farrell.

Or Elizabeth Bowen's classic The Last September?

Themodernuriahheep Sat 05-Dec-15 00:28:39

Ooh, Angela Thirkell. V snobbish but v v funny.

Molly Keane, good but with depressingly unfulfilled women who are not liberated enough to have successful sex lives and fall in love with gay men..

Barbara Pym, understated amusing bitchiness of the now -cardigan -wearing -but -used -to -be -vaguely -attractive -at -university -or -when -younger -woman.

Joanna Trollope? Mary Wesley?

Lenuccia Sat 05-Dec-15 22:17:16

Susan Howatch - Penmarric, Wheel of Fortune etc (Big thumper family sagas kind of based on Royal Dynasties)

RF Delderfield - The Avenue Books (The Dreaming Suburb and The Avenue goes to War - about a South London Suburban street after 1st world war and following the characters into the Second)

Dorothy Whipple - They Were sisters, Someone at a Distance, Greenbanks

SeaRabbit Sat 05-Dec-15 22:26:49

Most books published by Persephone seem to fit the bill. A few, such as Miss Pettigrew Lives for a day, and Someone at a Distance have already Been suggested.

Also the Transylvanian trilogy by Miklos Banffy. And the Balkan trilogy by Olivia Manning.

I recommend re-reading Austen and Gaskell too. I got so much more out of them, reading as an adult. Vanity Fair is an easy read - it rattles along very nicely.

tormentil Sun 06-Dec-15 17:09:36

Margaret Forster - Diary of an Ordinary Woman; Lady's Maid; Keeping the World Away

Penelope Lively - Consequences (and many others)
Margaret Atwood - Alias Grace
Robert Goddard - Painting the Darkness
The Quincunx - Charles Palliser

DeccaMitfordsEntryVisa Sun 06-Dec-15 17:12:49

Lovely thread! Am taking some advice.

A friend bought me Miss Pettigrew .. a few years ago when I had some surgery, it was lovely.

I felt a tad lost when I finished The Cazalet Chronicles!

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Thu 10-Dec-15 21:33:02

Noel Streatfeild's adult books? Grass in Piccadilly is lovely.

Elizabeth Goudge's Damerosehay series.

Penny Vincenzi's Lytton trilogy. Family saga that starts in 1900, centred around a family publishing business. I don't rate Penny Vincenzi's modern books but the historical ones were great.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Thu 10-Dec-15 21:36:08

Or try Wilkie Collins - the Law and the Lady or The Moonstone. Avoid his moralising ones like No Name.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Thu 10-Dec-15 21:37:44

Seconding Mary Wesley (The Camomile Lawn and Part of the Furniture) and the Dorothy Sayers books!

annandale Thu 10-Dec-15 21:39:28

Could try Monica Dickens? I don't go for her that much, but in the past enjoyed One Pair of Hands, One Pair of Feet, my favourite The Happy Prisoner and a favourite of someone i know, Mariana.

cressetmama Fri 11-Dec-15 13:02:38

Loved all the Mary Wesley books; Harnessing Peacocks was my favourite. If you have a Kindle, search Catherine Gaskin novels, she was a library favourite in the 1960s and 70s. They crack along pretty well, are decently written, and I have enjoyed the few I've found again this summer. RF Delderfield's novels are pleasant reads if a bit sentimental. The Mapp and Lucia series seem to appeal to peeps who enjoy PG Wodehouse but are a bit episodic for me.

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