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Fiction recommendations - my brain has gone blank

(12 Posts)
snickersnack Mon 29-Jun-09 22:26:34

It's my best friend's birthday next week. She mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she wants to get back into reading - she hasn't done much since her dd was born, but is going back to work and will have time on the train.

Now, I love reading, and read all sorts of things, but she has very specific requirements, and my brain has gone blank.

- the book cannot be sad. In any way. I think Pride and Prejudice would be fine. Jane Eyre probably would not be.

- the book cannot contain any violence, or anything she would consider unpleasant.

- it will not be chick lit or "light weight". Despite her deep seated aversion to any of the themes that I would say characterise most great novels (family breakdown, death and loss, loneliness), she doesn't want to dumb down too much.

- contemporary (ideally) though I reckon I could get away with a couple of classics if they weren't too well known - she does in fact have a degree in English Literature, so has read most of the obvious stuff.

I feel I should be able to conjure up hundreds of ideas, but am drawing a complete blank.

LovingtheSilverFox Mon 29-Jun-09 22:29:49

What about "The Other Bolelyn Girl"? There are a few other authors in that vein.

<<Goes to search shelves>>

LovingtheSilverFox Mon 29-Jun-09 22:30:56

Oops, just realised you said contemporary...that rules me and my suggestions out....anyone else?

piprabbit Mon 29-Jun-09 22:36:56

That's quite a tricky set of requirements.... How about some non-fiction about literature/reading? It might appeal to her English Lit. side. I'm thinking of things like 'Not in front of the grown-ups' by Alison Lurie (discussion of children's literature) or 'The child that books built' by Francis Spufford (personal memories of favourite books) or one of my all time favourites... 'Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austin' by Fay Weldon. Anyone of these might whet her appetite and give her ideas what to read next.

snickersnack Mon 29-Jun-09 22:37:26

I did suggest historical fiction to her when we had this conversation, but she didn't look overly impressed. Plus she'd definitely rule out The Other Boleyn Girl on the basis that it has violence, family break up, death, loss etc etc. Tricky, this.

snickersnack Mon 29-Jun-09 22:38:23

That's a good idea, piprabbit. I loved that Francis Spufford book. Even if I don't buy the other two for her, I might have to get them for myself!

LovingtheSilverFox Mon 29-Jun-09 22:44:20

Could you ask her to browse Amazon, and set up a wish list? Or is that a cop out?

This is a tricky one...what about books of films she likes? I was trying to think of one, but its not really my field I am more of a sci-fi gothic horror freak TBH, most of my books would fail her criteria. "The Devil Wears Prada" keep banging in my head, but I haven't seen it, so I may be off on the wrong track completely.

piprabbit Mon 29-Jun-09 22:45:03

Ooh - I do love spreading the word when I come across a good book. grin

wrongsideof40 Mon 29-Jun-09 22:45:22

That's a challenge and a half ! very difficult to find happy 'good' books ! But here are some suggestions

My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell is a hoot
Short History of Tractors etc -- Monica Lempickya
44 Scotland St - Alexander McCall-Smith

Will be watching this thread with interest !

piprabbit Mon 29-Jun-09 22:58:07

Also... Sara Maitlands writes wonderful short stories, which might be easier to read in small chuncks than a novel. 'A Book of Spells' contains some lovely contemporary fairy tales.

NewDKmum Tue 30-Jun-09 12:36:17

How about Stuart Maconie or Bill Bryson?

CoteDAzur Tue 30-Jun-09 12:39:48

Italo Calvino
"Invisible Cities"

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