Novels About Family

Family interaction plays a major part in these novels. Characters will enjoy the benefits of family, and also cope with the drawbacks. Sometimes we will see the effect that someone’s family has had on them.

Losing Battles | Eudora Welty

Several generations are gathering for a reunion and the ninetieth birthday of Granny Vaughn, the matriarch of the family. The most anticipated guest is Jack Renfro, Granny’s great-grandson who was jailed a year and a half ago for attacking and robbing a man who took a family heirloom. The members of the family tell stories. Jack discovers that the car he helped out of a ditch on his way there belongs to the judge who sent him away. He decides to go looking for him and put his car back in a ditch.

Gilead | Marilynne Robinson

Reverend John Ames, an elderly man dying of heart disease, writes a series of letters in his journal for his young son to read when he grows up. He tells the stories of his father, grandfather, and best friend, Robert.

Love Medicine | Louise Erdrich

June Kashpaw is heading home to the reservation when she meets a man and gets distracted. June’s history is filled in with memories of her family.

The Dead of the House | Hannah Green

Vanessa Nye remembers her life from childhood to adulthood, including the history of her family. She got a lot of her information from conversations with her grandfather. He told her stories of his family, his canoe trips across Canada, and his friendship with an Indian guide.

Breathing Lessons | Anne Tyler

Ira and Maggie, a married couple, are preparing to go to a funeral. On the long drive, they talk about the possibility of visiting their ex daughter-in-law and granddaughter, and they get upset with each other. It continues with the events of the funeral and the drive home.

Anna Karenina | Leo Tolstoy

Anna, a married aristocrat, is visiting her brother, Stiva. His household is in chaos because he was caught cheating with the governess. Anna meets Vronsky, an army officer, and they are attracted to each other. Stiva’s sister-in-law, Kitty, is also visiting. She is a debutante looking for a husband, and is shown attention by Vronsky and Levin, a friend of Stiva’s.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Read “Anna Karenina”

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant | Anne Tyler

Pearl Tull is on her deathbed. She remembers events from her life, including her children and when her husband, Beck, left the family. Pearl was tough on herself and her children; she wonders if they blame her for how their lives turned out. The subsequent chapters are told from the point of view of one of Pearl’s three children.  Some of the things overlap, giving us multiple perspectives on a single event.

The Glory Field | Walter Dean Myers

The episodes in The Glory Field tell the story of several generations of the Lewis family. It begins with Muhammad Bilal who is captured by slave traders and brought to America in 1753. He ends up on the Live Oaks plantation owned by the Lewis family. There are episodes from the Lewis history from the plantation, after the Civil War, 1930s Chicago, 1960s South Carolina, and 1990s Harlem.

The Rainbow | D. H. Lawrence

The narrative covers three generations of the Brangwen family who live at the Marsh Farm. Tom Brangwen takes over the farm after his father’s death. He has some difficulties with women but eventually meets Lydia, a widow with a daughter, Anna. The story continues thru their married life, into Anna’s adulthood, and beyond.

Read “The Rainbow”


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