BBC’s 100 Novels That Shaped Our World: Family and Friendship

By November 27, 2019 Discussion and Recommendations

All readers know that stories have the power to change us and shape who we are, and this month the BBC has collated a list of 100 novels that shaped our world.

The list is made up of English language novels only, and was chosen by a panel of leading writers, curators, and critics to select one hundred genre-busting novels that have had an impact on their lives. The books range from children’s classic to popular new releases, and the list is organised into ten themes.

The panel is made up of several BBC figures, Radio 4 Front Row presenter and Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell, broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, authors Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal and Alexander McCall Smith, and Bradford Festival Literary Director Syima Aslam

We’re going to feature the list in ten blogs, each one marking a different theme, today the theme is Family and Friendship.

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth’s novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find — through love or through exacting maternal appraisal — a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves.

A Suitable Boy

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Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfield

Noel Streatfeild once said that Ballet Shoes was ‘really a fairy story with its feet half-way on the ground’ – a magical description for a magical book.

Ballet Shoes

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Cloudstreet – Tim Winton

After two separate catastrophes, two very different families leave the country for the bright lights of Perth. The Lambs are industrious, united, and―until God seems to turn His back on their boy Fish―religious. The Pickleses are gamblers, boozers, fractious, and unlikely landlords.

Cloudstreet

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Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm is a comic novel by English author Stella Gibbons, published in 1932. It parodies the romanticised, sometimes doom-laden accounts of rural life popular at the time, by writers such as Mary Webb.

Cold Comfort Farm

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I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own first descent into love.

I Capture the Castle

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Middlemarch – George Eliot

Vast and crowded, rich in irony and suspense, Middlemarch is richer still in character, with two of the era’s most enduring characters, Dorothea Brooke, trapped in a loveless marriage, and Lydgate, an ambitious young doctor.

Middlemarch

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Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

For almost four decades Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. The first of nine novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales is both a sparkling comedy of manners and an indelible portrait of an era that changed forever the way we live.

Tales of the City

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The Shipping News – Annie Proulx

Quoyle, a third-rate newspaper hack, with a “head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair…features as bunched as kissed fingertips,” is wrenched violently out of his workaday life when his two-timing wife meets her just desserts. An aunt convinces Quoyle and his two emotionally disturbed daughters to return with her to the starkly beautiful coastal landscape of their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Here, on desolate Quoyle’s Point, in a house empty except for a few mementos of the family’s unsavory past, the battered members of three generations try to cobble up new lives.

The Shipping News

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The Tennant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte

“The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” is the second and final novel written by Anne Bronte. Considered one of the first feminist novels, it was both instantly successful and highly controversial.

The Tennant of Wildfell Hall

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The Witches – Roald Dahl

Grandmamma loves to tell about witches. Real witches are the most dangerous of all living creatures on earth. There’s nothing they hate so much as children, and they work all kinds of terrifying spells to get rid of them. Her grandson listens closely to Grandmamma’s stories—but nothing can prepare him for the day he comes face-to-face with The Grand High Witch herself!

The Witches

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The BBC list is 100 books long and split into ten categories, we’ll bring you the next category, Class & Society very soon and if you missed the previous lists, links are below.

Identity

Love, Sex and Romance

Adventure

Life, Death, and Other Worlds

Politics, Power, and Protest

Class and Society

Coming of Age

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