Novels About Journeys

In these novels characters make a physical journey or set out on a quest.

They encounter physical danger or other challenges along the way.

Novels with Journeys

Independence Day | Richard Ford

Frank Bascombe is forty-four, divorced, and a realtor in New Jersey. He is going to pick up his son Paul at his ex-wife’s place in Connecticut. They are going to take a weekend trip where Frank hopes to readjust Paul, as he has gotten into some trouble lately. First, Frank visits his girlfriend Sally, and shows some houses to clients. When hear Frank’s history before becoming a realtor. They set out on their trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Three Musketeers | Alexander Dumas

A young man, d’Artagnan, sets out for Paris to join the King’s Musketeers. After a close call, he joins the group and has a series of dangerous adventures.

Read “The Three Musketeers”

The Ambassadors | Henry James

Lewis Strether goes to Paris at the behest of his fiancée, Mrs. Newsome. He is to find Chad Newsome and bring him home, rescuing him from an undesirable romantic attachment. Strether meets Maria Gostrey, an American expatriate who offers to guide him on his search.

Read “The Ambassadors”

Cold Mountain | Charles Frazier

Inman is a wounded Confederate soldier being treated in a hospital, plotting his escape. He knows he will be sent back to the front. Deserting will create other problems, as the government hunts down those avoiding military service. Meanwhile, Ada is living on her farm, which she isn’t able to run properly. She becomes acquainted with Ruby, a self-sufficient woman who works the farm with her as an equal partner. Inman begins his journey to find Ada, while Ada learns to survive.

Under the Net | Iris Murdoch

Jake and Finn find out that they’re being kicked out of their residence, Jake’s girlfriend’s apartment. Finn goes to stay with Dave, a philosophy professor, while Jake looks for Anna, the woman he loves. Jake goes on a few small quests related to his book (the only one he ever published) and a manuscript he translated.

Gulliver’s Travels | Jonathan Swift

Lemuel Gulliver returns from his fourth and final trip and tells about his adventures. He visited Lilliput, populated by tiny people; Brobdingnag, populated by giants; and several other places on the third and fourth trips, each with their own peculiarities.

Read “Gulliver’s Travels”

Winter in the Blood | James Welch

The unnamed narrator is a thirty-two-year-old Blackfeet Indian man living on a reservation in Montana. He lives with his mother; his father and brother have both died. He deals with his sense of alienation from his family, girlfriend, and Indian and white people alike. He comes home after a night of drinking and fighting to find his girlfriend Agnes has left him. He soon sets out to find her.

Kim | Rudyard Kipling

Kim is a thirteen-year-old Irish boy who was orphaned in British India and grew up in an opium den. His wide experience with languages and customs allow him to blend in anywhere. When he meets a Tibetan lama searching for the Holy River, he becomes his chela, or assistant. When they come upon an army regiment, Kim’s identity becomes known and the chaplains want to prevent him from serving a Buddhist monk.

Read “Kim”

Giants in the Earth| O. E. Rolvaag

Per Hansa is leading his family over the Dakota plains. They’ve been separated from their travelling party. They need to get to Spring Creek to register a section of land they can farm. The community deals with all the trials of the plains such as land disputes, losing animals, long journeys for supplies, and the weather, among other things.

Read “Giants in the Earth”

Daughter of Fortune | Isabele Allende

Rose and Jeremy Sommers, brother and sister, take in Eliza Sommers. Jacob, a preacher, comes to town and is attracted to Rose. Eliza is maturing, so Rose eventually tries to find her a suitor. Eliza falls in love with Joaquin, a poor young man who works for Jeremy. This sends her on a voyage.

As I Lay Dying | William Faulkner

Addie, the matriarch of the Bundren family, is on her deathbed, while her oldest son Cash is building her coffin. She dies soon after. The family is going to respect her request to be buried in her family’s burial ground, so they prepare for the forty mile journey. Friends and neighbors are advising against this difficult trip, but the family goes anyway. It’s narrated by many different people who each give their perspective.

Read “As I Lay Dying”

The Wind in the Willows | Kenneth Grahame

Mole is spring-cleaning when he gets the urge to see the world above him. He meets Water Rat, who explains the River Bank community. They next visit Mr. Toad, who becomes fixated on automobiles. Then Mole goes to the Wild Wood to see Mr. Badger, but he gets lost. Mole’s adventures continue as he interacts with the residents of the River Bank.

“Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!”

Read “The Wind in the Willows”

Around the World in Eighty Days | Jules Verne

Phileas Fogg is a rich gentleman with a strict daily routine. He hears a newspaper report that it is possible to travel around the world in eighty days. He is enthusiastic about the idea and sets out to do it,accompanied by his manservant, Passepartout. Wagers are placed against him amounting to about half his fortune. When reports of his trip spread, he becomes a suspect in a bank robbery, as authorities believe the thief will try to leave the country.

Read “Around the World in Eighty Days”

Bless the Beasts and Children | Glendon Swarthout

John Cotton is a teenage counsellor at the Box Canyon Boys Camp. He has a dream where he and his charges, as buffalos, are taken into a corral and slaughtered. His group of boys are known as the “Bedwetters”, the ones who were left over after the camp members formed groups. The boys were traumatized by something earlier that day that they won’t discuss. Cotton and his boys decide to leave the camp and set out on a quest to help right the wrong that they witnessed.

Journey to the Center of the Earth | Jules Verne

It is 1863 in Germany at the home of Professor Lidenbrock. He shows his neprew, Axel, a 700-year-old book he bought. A parchment falls out of it containing Runic letters, which Lidenbrock figures must be some sort of code. He and Axel eventually solve it – it tells how a person can reach the center of the earth. Lidenbrock immediately makes plans to make the trip, enlisting Axel’s assistance.

Read “Journey to the Center of the Earth”

Incredible Journey | Sheila Burnford

John Longridge, living in Ontario, Canada, is looking after a friend’s pets – two dogs and a cat. The animals leave one day, heading west in search of their owner. They face danger from other animals, the geography, and people.

The Alchemist | Paulo Coelho

Santiago is a young shepherd traveling the Spanish countryside. He has had a recurring dream about finding his fortune in an Egyptian pyramid; a gypsy woman tells him he must go to Egypt. He makes his way to Tangier. After he is robbed of all his money, he starts working at a crystal shop to save enough money to get back home.

Read “The Alchemist”

Huckleberry Finn | Mark Twain

Huck lives with the Widow Douglas and her sister Miss Watson; they are trying to teach him manners. One day his father, Pap, returns. He takes Huck’s money, beats him, and takes him to a cabin. When Huck can’t take it anymore, he craftily escapes to an island on the Mississippi river. He meets up with Jim, a slave who ran away from Miss Watson. They decide to travel down the river together.

Read “Huckleberry Finn”


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