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Explore the list of sweeping multigenerational family drama books to read in 2023.
When I first discovered multigenerational family dramas, I immediately fell in love. These compelling tales beautifully capture the intricacies of family dynamics, spanning across generations, and I couldn’t help but be drawn into their enchanting world.
One of my all-time favorite multigenerational dramas is Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing. It masterfully weaves together the narratives of lives impacted by slavery, spanning decades.
Another gem that holds a special place in my heart is The Dutch House by Anne Patchett. The captivating storytelling and the incredible narration by Tom Hanks in the audiobook version made me fall in love with the story.
If you are here to find the best family drama novels, you will absolutely love this list.
You can find 19 family sagas from around the world, that deal with complex relationships, buried secrets, and conflicts that resonate with the depths of the human experience.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- A New York Times Notable Book
- One of Oprah’s Best Books of the Year
- A Pen/Hemingway Award Winner
- Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2016)
Homegoing tells the story of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi in 18th century Ghana who have never known each other. We get to follow each sister’s separate lives. As one sister gets to stay in a privileged society, the other is transported to America as a slave. The book takes us to the numerous cultures in both Ghana and America- through slavery and colonialism. Probably this is the ONLY book you have to read to know the treatment of enslaved in the United States. It’s devastating, powerful, and beautiful. Homegoing is definitely one of the best books I have ever read.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
- Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
- New York Times Bestseller
- Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick
- New York Times Book Review Notable Book
- TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of the Year
- Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, The Washington Post; O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Refinery29, and Buzzfeed
The Dutch House is a fascinating story of the Conroy family, particularly the siblings Danny and his older sister Maeve. After their father’s death, stepmother Andrea allegedly takes over their family home- The Dutch House. Soon after, both siblings are thrown out of the house. Set over the course of five decades, this complex drama describes fragile family relationships. This American family story is definitely going to break your heart. It’s a beautifully written novel that explores obsession and forgiveness in human relationships.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
Often referred to as a “modern retelling of the Genesis story of Cain and Abel” East of Eden tells the story of the two families-the Trasks and the Hamiltons. With engaging and memorable characters Steinbeck has written a masterpiece. The best thing about this classic is that it’s both fast-paced and easily readable for all types of readers. So if you’re looking for a family sags with enjoyable characters this is what you must be reading.
New York by Edward Rutherford
New York depicts the tale of families through the heart of America’s history over 300 years. From the 1600s Dutch and Native Americans to the terrorist attacks in the 2000s, you get to read a massive collection of events from the history of America. The book also describes the established families from America along with the fictional characters. Probably one of the very few pieces of historical fiction that has extensive history and drama in one place.
Centennial by James A. Michener
- National Bestseller
Michener tells a magnificent historical story of Colorado in the USA! From the ancient time to the early 1970s, the book takes you through most of the historical events of the region such as the life of dinosaurs to the arrival of man. This must be the only book you have to refer to as a history student. An engrossing book to take you back to the history of mankind and beyond.
Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
- A Good Morning America Book Club Pick
- New York Times Bestseller!
Fifty Words for Rain is a the coming-of-age- story of a Japanese girl Nori, whose father is African -American and mother is Japanese. When the mother abandons her, she has been forced to live along with her conservative Japanese grandparents. As a result, she leads a solitary life. But when her legitimate half-brother, Akira, comes to the rescue things set in motion. A well-written novel about family, relationships, and culture. A must-read book that depicts a true portrayal of Japanese culture and families.
The Practice House by Laura McNeal
The Practice House is a timeless love story of Nineteen-year-old Aldine McKenna who has been living with her sister and aunt in a Scottish village in the late 1920s! Later, she moves to Dorland to work as a primary teacher without knowing that most families are in poverty. However, as the neighbors welcome her in open arms she decides to stay and explore her new life. An engaging story that will take you back to Kansas during the dust bowl.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.
This 1977 best-selling novel spans three generations of the Cleary family, from 1915 to 1969. Set on a fictional Australian sheep farm, the story depicts the family struggles and romance. Mostly centered around Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and her love interest, priest Ralph de Bricassart. However, “The Thorn Birds” is more than a romantic love story. It has engrossing details on Australian wildlife along with World War references.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
- Winner of the Carnegie Medal
- Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
- Finalist for the National Book Awards
- Winner of the Stonewall Book Award – Barbara Gittings Literature Award
- Finalist for the La Times Fiction Award
The Great Believers is an emotional story that is set in 80’s Chicago in the background of the AIDS epidemic and the consequences on the lives of people. The story concentrates on a group of gay friends and their struggle during the crisis. The story alternates between 1985 to 2015 and is told between two narratives- Fiona and Yale. A deeply moving novel you would want to start reading immediately!
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Set in the background of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, Fall of Giants is a historical novel follows five inter-connected families- American, English, Welsh, German, and Russian. A well-researched intriguing and complex family drama that you would definitely enjoy if you are in unforgettable World War II novels!
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
The Island of Sea Women is a heart-wrenching novel that tells the story of two girls on the Korean island of Jeju. Mi-Ja and Young-sook develop a close friendship as they begin to work together with their village’s all-female diving collective. Span over many decades the novel takes us through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, and the Korean War. A fascinating story of courageous woman with an indomitable spirit!
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
- A Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Fiction and Best Debut
- The New York Times bestseller
- BookBrowse’s Best Book of the Year
- A Marie Claire Best Women’s Fiction of the Year
- A Real Simple Best Book of the Year
- A Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March
- A Newsweek Best Book of the Summer
- A New Arab Best Books by Arab Authors
- An Electric Lit 20 Best Debuts of the First Half of 2019
- A The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019
A Woman Is No Man narrates the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women who have been unable to raise their voices in a Patriarchal Arab society. Told in the past timeline by two narrators, we get to hear from eighteen-year-old Deya, her mother, and her grandmother. A compelling novel that will take you inside conventional Arab culture and people.
The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton.
Set in rural Missouri , The Moonflower Vine is family saga that narrates the life of the Soames family. The book opens with The Soames family getting ready for the summer reunion; parents and four daughters. Later, we are taken to the life of each individual character and their life in vivid detail. A gripping novel that describes rural living.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The House of the Spirits is a debut novel of a Chilean-American novelist is an astonishing tale that tells the life of four generations from two beautiful families. The story focuses on two women-Clara del Valle and Alba de Satigny. Told in the background of Chilean politics and colonialism this story has extraordinary elements of magical realism.
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
- Winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award
- Named the Best Book of the Year by NPR, Nylon, Kirkus Reviews, Bustle, BookPage
Salt Houses is an addictive novel follows the refugee life of a Palestinian family after the 1967 war. Mostly centers upon Salma, the matriarch of the family. This deeply engrossing story depicts the pathetic situation of her and her family who were forced to leave their home during the war. Told from an alternating point of view of family members throughout three generations. A beautifully written novel that takes us to the individual struggles of families.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- New York Times Bestseller
- An Oprah Book Club Pick
The Poisonwood Bible is a historical fiction that portrays an evangelical Baptist family in 1959 Belgian Congo. The story is told from different perspectives of Nathan, his wife, and his daughters. Throughout the story, we get to witness the lives of real people, cultures, and what it likes to live in a society as missionaries. A thought-provoking novel that can educate you on African culture, Christianity, and society in general.
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
Everything Here is Beautiful is an immigrant story unfolds the lives of two sisters- Miranda and Lucia. Younger sibling Lucia is often wild and troubled by mental illness. It’s Miranda who always stood by her sister and felt responsible to look after the youngest. However, as they find new lives separated from each other, things are not the same. An extremely emotional tale with memorable characters you won’t be able to put down.
The Deverill Chronicles by Santa Montefiore
I am a huge fan of author Santa Montefiore. I think she is an incredible storyteller who writes gorgeous love stories and family sagas. The Deverill Chronicles is a fascinating novel that explores events surrounding the Deverill family. It mainly follows three women- Kitty Deverill, the flame-haired Anglo-Irish daughter of the castle, Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the cook, and Celia Deverill, Kitty’s flamboyant English cousin. However, when the war of independence begins their life changes forever.
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
Set in 1950s Quebec, The Home for Unwanted Girls tells the story of young mother Maggie and her pursuit to find her long-lost daughter.
Author Goodman also takes us to the journey of the orphaned daughter Elodie who has been raised in a destitute orphanage along with mentally challenged people. It also describes the horrific circumstances in which young girls have been treated and how some of them are unable to cope with the situations. This was an heartwrehcing novel for me. And the horrifying details about secret societies and boarding schools were made the book even more addictive. I absolutely recommend this book if you want to read a fast-paced, family drama.
Time for YOUR action
Do you enjoy reading multigenerational fiction? What is your favorite family drama? Let me know in the comments.
Always curious to hear from you,