Great books about families

Blood, so the saying goes, is thicker than water. This theme is often at the heart of a satisfying family saga, regardless of class, race, country or century. But with that unifying factor comes plenty of strife – secrets, lies, jealously and deception. Inter-generational relationships creak and strain – sometimes to the point of collapse. This is what makes the family saga such a gripping genre – that sense of intrigue and conflict amongst people who should love each other unconditionally. We are fascinated by what has happened to cause parent to turn against child, siblings to vie for attention and squabble into adult years, heirs to be disinherited, dynasties to crumble. And then there are the outsiders – the in-laws, sneaking into the fold. Not blood relations but invited into family home and hearth nevertheless, for better and for worse.

Families are at the centre of this collection of novels and poetry with all their individual quirks and traditions. As Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina – ‘each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ – and that’s what we think makes a great story.

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