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Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.
A self-made man in a Nigerian village loses everything in the wake of colonialism.
African Trilogy: No Longer at Ease; Arrow of God
Elizabeth Berg, Durable Goods.
In the sweltering heat of a Texas summer, a girl and her sister struggle to cope with their mother’s death and their father’s violent outbursts.
Sequels: Joy School; True to Form
Jennifer Chiaverini, The Quilter’s Apprentice.
Two women, one young and one old, learn to mend their lives as they work on quilts.
Elm Creek Quilts: Round Robin; Cross-Country Quilters; Runaway Quilt; Quilter's Legacy; Master Quilter; Sugar Camp Quilt; Christmas Quilt; Circle of Quilters; Quilter's Homecoming; New Year's Quilt; Winding Ways Quilt; Quilter's Kitchen; The Lost Quilter; Quilters' Holiday; Aloha Quilt; Union Quilters; Wedding Quilt; Sonoma Rose; Giving Quilt
Louis De Bernieres, The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts.
When a spoiled woman tries to divert a river to fill her swimming pool, she starts a running battle with the locals, and the government sends a squadron of soldiers to deal with them.
Sequels: Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord; The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman
A.S. Byatt, The Virgin in the Garden.
A new play for a festival celebrating the coronation of Elizabeth II brings together the playwright and an eccentric family whose personal dramas soon eclipse the production.
Sequels: Still Life; Babel Tower; Whistling Woman
Richard Paul Evans, The Walk.
A man who loses everything contemplates suicide but instead sets out to walk across the U.S., encountering a variety of people along the way.
Sequels: Miles to Go; The Road to Grace
Dorothea Benton Frank, Sullivan’s Island.
After learning her husband is unfaithful, a woman rebuilds her life and comes to terms with her past.
Lowcountry Tales: Plantation; Isle of Palms; Shem Creek; Pawley’s Island; Full of Grace; Land of Mango Sunsets; The Christmas Pearl; Bulls Island; Return to Sullivan’s Island; Lowcountry Summer; Folly Beach; Porch Lights
Jan Karon, At Home in Mitford.
A lonely small-town rector finds happiness with a stray dog, a stray boy, and a neighbor lady.
Mitford series: Light in the Window; These High Green Hills; Out to Canaan; A New Song; A Common Life; In This Mountain; Shepherds Abiding; Light from Heaven
Marian Keyes, Watermelon.
A new mother returns to her family in Dublin when her husband leaves her for another woman.
Walsh Family: Rachel’s Holiday; Angels; Anybody Out There?
Sophie Kinsella, Confessions of a Shopaholic.
A woman whose shopping addiction lands her in debt comes up with creative solutions for survival.
Sequels: Shopaholic Takes Manhattan; Shopaholic Ties the Knot; Shopaholic and Sister; Shopaholic and Baby; Mini-Shopaholic
Kate Jacobs, The Friday Night Knitting Club.
A woman with a 12-year-old daughter runs a yarn shop in Manhattan frequented by a variety of customers from different walks of life.
Sequels: Knit Two; Knit the Season
Beverly Lewis, The Shunning.
An Amish woman finds a satin infant gown in her family’s attic, which leads to a devastating confession from her parents that changes her life.
Sequels: The Confession; The Reckoning
Debbie Macomber, The Shop on Blossom Street.
A cancer survivor opens a knitting shop in Seattle and starts a weekly knitting class, hoping to improve business and make friends in the area.
Sequels: A Good Yarn; Susannah’s Garden; Back on Blossom Street; Twenty Wishes; Summer on Blossom Street; Hannah’s List; A Turn in the Road
Jo-Ann Mapson, Bad Girl Creek.
A woman confined to a wheelchair because of a heart condition inherits a flower farm from an aunt and takes in three troubled women as boarders.
Sequels: Along Came Mary; Goodbye Earl
Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City.
A woman from Ohio impulsively moves to San Francisco, where she befriends an eclectic mix of people in her apartment building.
Sequels: More Tales of the City; Further Tales of the City; Babycakes; Significant Others; Sure of You; Michael Tolliver Lives; Mary Ann in Autumn
Alexander McCall Smith, 44 Scotland Street.
Inspired by Tales of the City (above), this series of interlinked stories charts the lives of the residents of an Edinburgh boarding house.
Sequels: Espresso Tales; Love over Scotland; The World According to Bertie; The Unbearable Lightness of Scones; The Importance of Being Seven
Sharyn McCrumb, If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O.
A ‘60s folksinger hoping for a comeback moves to an Appalachian town but is terrorized by the murders of her dog and a girl who resembles her.
Ballad series: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter; She Walks These Hills; Rosewood Casket; Ballad of Frankie Silver; Songcatcher; Ghost Riders; Devil Amongst the Lawyers; Ballad of Tom Dooley
Joyce Carol Oates, Garden of Earthly Delights.
The daughter of a bitter migrant farm worker is determined to escape her life of violence and poverty.
Wonderland Quartet: Expensive People; them; Wonderland
Edna O’Brien, The Country Girls.
Two ambitious Irish country girls set out to conquer Dublin and the world.
Sequels: The Lonely Girl; Girls in Their Married Bliss
John Powers, The Last Catholic in America.
A humorous account of a boy’s Catholic schooldays in Chicago pre-Vatican II.
Sequels: Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?; The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God
Luanne Rice, Firefly Beach.
Gathered at their family home, the daughters of a famous artist struggle to cope with the traumas of their turbulent childhood.
Hubbard’s Point: Safe Harbor; True Blue; The Perfect Summer; Beach Girls; Last Kiss
Emilie Richards, Wedding Ring.
Three generations of women clear out their family home in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and bond over a vintage quilt they all had a hand in making.
Shenandoah Album: Endless Chain; Lover’s Knot; Touching Stars; Sister’s Choice
Ann Ross, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind.
A small-town widow agrees to take in her late husband’s illegitimate child.
Sequels: Miss Julia Takes Over; ...Throws a Wedding; ...Hits the Road; ...Meets Her Match; ...School of Beauty; ...Stands Her Ground; ...Strikes Back; ...Paints the Town; ...Delivers the Goods; ...Renews Her Vows; ...Rocks the Cradle; ...To the Rescue
Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer.
Nathan Zuckerman—a recent graduate with four published stories—visits the Berkshire home of his reclusive idol.
Sequels: Zuckerman Unbound; Anatomy Lesson; Prague Orgy; The Counterlife; American Pastoral; I Married a Communist; Human Stain; Exit Ghost
Haywood Smith, The Red Hat Club.
A group of women friends pull together when one of them discovers that her husband bought a condo for his mistress with their retirement fund.
Sequels: The Red Hat Club Rides Again; Wedding Belles
Patrick Taylor, An Irish Country Doctor.
In the 1960s, a newly qualified doctor joins a practice in rural Northern Ireland.
Sequels: Irish Country Village; Irish Country Christmas; An Irish Country Girl; An Irish Country Courtship; A Dublin Student Doctor; An Irish Country Wedding
Adriana Trigiani, Big Stone Gap.
Life holds surprises for a woman in a sleepy Appalachian town.
Sequels: Big Cherry Holler; Milk Glass Moon; Home to Big Stone Gap
John Updike, Rabbit, Run.
A former high-school athletic star who is disillusioned with his life flees from his wife and child in a futile search for grace and order.
Sequels: Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit at Rest
Lisa Wingate, A Month of Summer.
A woman must put aside her resentment towards her father and return home when he’s found wandering the streets suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Blue Sky Hills: Summer Kitchen; Beyond Summer; Dandelion Summer
Daniel Woodrell, Under the Bright Lights.
A boxer-turned-police detective uncovers a trail of corruption and murder after a black councilman is found dead in an apparent burglary gone wrong.
Bayou Trilogy: Muscle for the Wing; The Ones You Do