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What is your favourite novel, and why?

(303 Posts)
Doodledog Sun 26-Feb-23 21:07:07

I was asked this question yesterday (at a literary event), and my mind just went blank. I grasped at straws, and said Great Expectations, which is a very good book, but probably not my favourite of all time. Coming home on the bus, I started to think about what I would say if someone asked me again, but I'm not much further forward really.

How would you answer that question? Do you have a favourite novel, and do you know why you love it? If you can't make up your mind, what are your top three (or four or five, if that's easier)? You can change your mind tomorrow, so don't let the question faze you like it did me grin.

My list would probably include:
Maus by Art Speigleman, although maybe that shouldn't count, as it is a graphic novel
The Women's Room by Marilyn French, although it is probably terribly dated.
The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, or pretty much anything by Roddy Doyle, who is the only male author I know who can write convincingly from the point of view of a woman, but I've changed my mind already writing that (other contenders are The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, Life of Pi by Yann Martel and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini) and as soon as I see other people's choices I will change it again.

what are yours?

MayBee70 Sun 26-Feb-23 21:23:48

I read Captain Corellis Mandolin when I was on holiday in Crete. It was just the right book at the perfect time. It isn’t the best book I’ve ever read but it was at that moment in time. Germinal changed me as a person. You can’t really have a favourite book can you.

Calendargirl Sun 26-Feb-23 21:26:18

‘Gone With The Wind’.

Have read it dozens of times, but never tire of wishing for a different ending.

Aveline Sun 26-Feb-23 21:28:33

I love 'The Fortnight in September' by RC Sherriff. I don't know quite why - but I do.

Doodledog Sun 26-Feb-23 21:34:17

I agree, MayBee. It's so difficult to choose. I loved Captain Corelli too. Germinal wasn't enjoyable, but I know what you mean about its politics.

I haven't read GWTW. I saw the film, and quite enjoyed it, but I think the length of the book would be daunting, and I don't know The Fortnight in September at all. I'll have to look that one up.

dotpocka Sun 26-Feb-23 21:39:32


NotAGran55 Sun 26-Feb-23 21:40:43

The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne

Utterly brilliant.

Hellogirl1 Sun 26-Feb-23 21:42:09

As a child I loved Little Women. As an adult I can`t pick out a favourite, but A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini would be up there on the list.

MaizieD Sun 26-Feb-23 21:42:51

I don't read much fiction and I'm hopeless at modern novels, but I think my all time favourite is Jane Austen's Persuasion. Her portrayal of Anne Elliot's emotional reactions to the reappearance of her former lover and having to endure close proximity when no-one knows their past history is absolutely perfect. Happy ending too.

Am I allowed a children's novel? Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Lantern Bearers. First heard it dramatised Children's Hour and I reread it from time to time. Once again, it's about loss and reconciliation.

There's a bit of a theme here, isn't there? grin

Apart from that, I like anything that is well written...

MayBee70 Sun 26-Feb-23 21:45:07


As a child I loved Little Women. As an adult I can`t pick out a favourite, but A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini would be up there on the list.

I was numb at the end of that book. It was wonderful.

Joseanne Sun 26-Feb-23 21:56:08

As a child it would have to be Black Beauty because, although sad, kindness and compassion for animals won in the end.
I would also go with Persuasion, though it was my A level set text, and I knew it too well.
Maybe Madame Bovary because I am a romantic at heart like Emma.

SueDonim Sun 26-Feb-23 21:56:59

I almost never reread a book so I can’t truly say I have an all-time favourite.

I have read GWTW several times, though and loved A Fortnight in September, too. It’s amazing anyone can a story that is so intricate and absorbing but where nothing really happens!

As a child I read and re-read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Oh, another re-read, The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurer.

MaizieD Sun 26-Feb-23 21:57:10



As a child I loved Little Women. As an adult I can`t pick out a favourite, but A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini would be up there on the list.

I was numb at the end of that book. It was wonderful.

It was/is an amazing book, but I couldn't bear to read it again. I found it heartbreaking.

Sweetpeasue Sun 26-Feb-23 21:59:58

As a child Little Women(Thought I was Jo, cos I loved books but never been as brave as her so I now realise Im Beth! 😂)

Anna Karenina
Jane Eyre - a definite and more recently.
Eleanor Oliphant is Absolutely Fine

Joseanne Sun 26-Feb-23 22:03:11

Oh yes Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

Sara1954 Sun 26-Feb-23 22:34:55

I do change my mind, but the top spot for many years has been The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, not sure why it had such a great affect, just a fabulous book.
I love all John Updike, but the Rabbit books I think are his masterpiece, just never tire of them.
Big Thomas Hardy fan, but particularly like The Woodlanders.
AS Byatt, in particular The Virgin in the Garden

Ask me tomorrow, and it maybe different.

Sara1954 Sun 26-Feb-23 22:38:46

Yes, The Womens Room
Had a huge affect on me when I read it in the seventies, still have my original copy
But as you say, would seem really dated now.

Casdon Sun 26-Feb-23 22:40:58

I Capture the Castle. It’s exactly what it’s like to be young, and full of joy and fun.
I also love Jane Austen. My favourite is Pride and Prejudice, the level of observation and wit is brilliant, and every time I read it I discover more.

Graso Sun 26-Feb-23 22:46:22

Agree choosing a single favourite is impossible but ‘The Remains of the Day’ by Kazuo Ishiguro comes close for me. It captures perfectly the character and values of an earlier time. How, given his own background, I have no idea.

glammagran Sun 26-Feb-23 22:48:37

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns really left an impression. I’ve loved both Love is Blind by William Boyd and Lessons by Ian McKewan lately. Currently reading the Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn - jury is out on this one. I read the Women’s Room when I was 22. Enjoyed this at the time but I can’t really remember it too well now.

Juliet27 Sun 26-Feb-23 23:20:12

The Herries Chronicle - Hugh Walpole

Sweetpeasue Sun 26-Feb-23 23:36:25

Wonderful thread. Cant believe I left out much loved writer Thomas Hardy. I loved The Woodlanders but also Jude the Obscure.
Its impossible to pick a favourite.

Grantanow Sun 26-Feb-23 23:40:02

Most novels by Graham Greene with Evelyn Waugh a close second.

henetha Sun 26-Feb-23 23:45:59

It's really difficult to have a favourite. But Little Women when I was young was always my go-to book. And later in life it was My Cousin Rachael by Daphne Du Maurier.
I just love so many books these days that it's impossible to say which is a favourite.

Pigma Sun 26-Feb-23 23:47:38

I am an avid book lover and have read many, many wonderful books but my all-time most favourite book ever (dreadful grammar there!) is The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B by J.P. Donleavy. Fell in love with it when I first read it at 17 and have remained so ever since but can’t begin to explain why!