Fiona Lowe is a prolific, genre-transgressing writer, who shines in her romance novels as brightly as her family sagas. Because of that, we know she must be an avid reader. How else could she manage to capture so many emotions and moments and characters in all her books? If you haven’t already heard about it, Lowe’s latest novel Birthright is an immersive jungle of family drama that centres around the elderly matriarch’s inheritance. You can read our full review here.
Accordingly, we asked Fiona to put together a list of her favourite books about family dynasties, and here they are:
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough: I read this Australian saga on a 52-hour bus ride crossing Canada. I loved the way McCullough wove together the machinations of family and the church to weave a riveting tale.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Family, survival, ambition and social standing. I inhaled this novel and it was the source of my first teenage rebellion. I refused to go on a family bushwalk because I couldn’t put the book down.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: Family preventing two lovers from ever being together. Romeo and Juliet with glorious food. A rich read.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I read this in Italy and was immediately swept up into the Mafia family and the dilemma faced by Michael, the reluctant hero.
Any novel by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. Both these authors explored family and societal mores of the day with acute observation. Two favourites are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: The first novel I recall reading about sisters, family and strong women.
Hawaii by James A. Michener: I read this saga in Hawaii and delighted in being able to visit many of the places mentioned in the novel. Michener’s descriptions of the descendants of the missionaries becoming the powerhouse of business and politics on the islands, was intriguing.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: Although a laugh-out-loud romp, at heart this book deals with family expectations and social standing. Anyone who has lived in Hong Kong or Singapore can relate to the antics of the families.
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth: This enormous novel of 1300 pages deals with four extended families in India before and after Partition and details a complex, multi ethnic society in flux and the prejudices that can ruin lives.