There’s nothing more satisfying than a good book; one that weaves a story around memorable characters that we grow to love or hate, root for or cry for, and always feel connected to. These are the books that are so good we dread finishing them – dragging our feet to the ending, always keeping track of how many pages are left, even putting the book down to delay the inevitable. But there’s good news: some books keep on going. In fact, many great character driven stories are part of a multi-book series.
True, there are plenty of books (mainly detective or spy novels) that have recurring characters, but each of those can also be read on their own. What we love are books that pick up where the last left book off – the series – where you can’t cut the line. You must start at the beginning with Book One and be prepared for the characters to grow up and grow old with each successive tale.
Here are five of our favorites:
Masie Dobbs by Jacqueline Windspear tells the 14-book (so far) continuing story of Masie Dobbs, who we first meet as a young maid in an aristocratic London home. The series follows Masie as her education is sponsored by her employer, as she becomes a nurse sent to the front lines in France during WWI, at the loss of her first love, during her career as a private investigator turned sometime spy at the beginning of WWII, where Masie secrets herself into Germany for the British government. Well written and always engrossing, each book is highly anticipated by Windspear’s many fans.
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati. This 3-generation family saga begins during the French and Indian Wars in Upstate New York. The series revolves around the protagonist, Elizabeth Middleton Bonner, an English schoolteacher who comes to New York State to open a school. Her marriage to Nathaniel Bonner, a backwoods man who was brought up among the Mohawk Indians, provides many opportunities for Donati to weave fascinating tales of love, loss, hardship, unlikely friendships, and redemption. If you liked the Outlander series, you will love the Into the Wilderness series.
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. If you’ve seen the series on Starz, you are in for a real treat – the books are better than the TV series! Time traveler, Claire Randall Fraser, is married in the 20th Century to Frank Randall, descendant of Black Jack Randal, enemy of her 18th Century husband, Jaime Fraser. The Outlander series is a long, sweeping saga (8 books, so far) that follows Claire and Jaime during the Scottish rebellion, the War of Independence and the newly formed United States. It’s a story of true love, most of all, with scandal, intrigue, violence and heartbreak mixed into one long, fantastic read.
The Century Trilogy is Ken Follett’s historical epic about 5 families from Europe and the US, whose lives intertwine during WWI, the Russian Revolution, WWII, woman’s suffrage, Vietnam, politics on all levels, and even the Kennedy Assassination. Always historically accurate with richly developed characters, the trilogy is a spectacular review of the events of the twentieth century brought to life.
Elena Ferrante’s, The Neapolitan Novels, are a quartet of stories about 2 friends, Lila and Elena, growing up in post- war Naples. Spanning almost 60 years, the story follows the two friends through school, love, marriage, and conflict. The books pull no punches; we see a raw and honest portrayal of life in a sometimes violent, but always family centric neighborhood. A love-hate relationship between the two protagonists propels the story to its satisfying end.