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8 Classic Novels about Family Dynamics | Recommendations

Happy Mother’s Day!! In honor of this special day, I thought I would share some classic novels about family dynamics… albeit, not always the most positive ones! I think reading about fictional families is so interesting, and a close look at family dynamics always adds more depth to a novel. Books like these are a reminder that even what may be thought of as the simplest bond–that between family members–can actually be one of the most nuanced bonds. Here are eight classic novels that I would recommend if you’d like to read about some fictional families:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. This lyrical, sprawling novel is one long saga of a family generation after generation. It really makes you think about families over time, what we inherit, and what we pass down to others. {My review}

Middlemarch by George Eliot. Set in the fictitious English town of Middlemarch, this hefty novel (nearly 900 pages!) focuses on several families in a community and how they intertwine and influence each other. {My review; A Classic Couple: Middlemarch and White Teeth}

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. This book certainly doesn’t contain the most positive family dynamics, but it is a bizarre and fascinating read. Narrated by 15 characters over the course of 59 chapters, As I Lay Dying is a deep dive into this family’s past, present, and uncertain future. {My review}

Howards End by E.M. Forster. Revolving around three families, this novel also explores class and social customs at the beginning of the twentieth century in England. It’s also often considered E.M. Forster’s “masterpiece,” so it’s a great place to start with his works if you’ve never read anything by him before. {A Classic Couple: Howards End and On Beauty}

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Ahh yes, how bizarre and unsettling this novel can be at times. Definitely not a family dynamic to aspire to, but certainly one that is interesting and entertaining to read about. {My review}

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Such a quaint and cozy read! Such a lovely family to read about! I definitely recommend this if you’re in the mood for something that will make you feel all the feelings about families in general, and about this one in particular. {My review}

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I adore this novel. To the Lighthouse primarily focuses on one family and the secrets, thoughts, hopes, and desires that they keep hidden from one another. {My review}

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I couldn’t make this list without mentioning Pride and Prejudice, now could I? I think it’s safe to say that the Bennet family is one of the most famous families in classic literature. {My review}

Do you like reading books about family dynamics? What are your favorites, classics or otherwise? Let me know in the comments section below!




23 responses to “8 Classic Novels about Family Dynamics | Recommendations”

  1. I love reading books like these! Pride and Prejudice and Little Women are just constant favourites! Wuthering Heights is the next book on my list, and I can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh so exciting! Hope you enjoy Wuthering Heights!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful idea for a blogpost on Mother’s Day! When I read the title, To the Lighthouse also popped into my head (though it’s actually a sad story). I’ve also thought about Home by Larissa Behrendt, a lesser-known novel which follows the lives of multiple generations of an Aboriginal family in Australia. It’s not a classic but still interesting to read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve never read Home so I will definitely check it out. Thank you for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great topic! Some others I could add are The Makioka Sisters — fascinating glimpse of family dynamics and female roles in mid-20th-century Japan; The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier — a “double” is roped into taking on the persona of his French counterpart in a troubled family, with interesting results; East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which riffs on his own family history in a grand panorama of American life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And thanks so much for your recommendations–I’ve been meaning to read East of Eden for AGES.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too until I finally read it a year or two ago. And then I couldn’t put it down.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t read a lot of books about family dynamics but I don’t exactly avoid them. I’m hoping to get to read Wuthering Heights in the autumn and I’m looking forward to it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh autumn is SUCH a perfect time to read Wuthering Heights!! Definitely fits the Halloween mood of fall. Hope you enjoy! 🙂


  5. Definitely agree that howard’s end is a great place to start with forster. And I love the bennet family and the Marches! 😀 Wonderful list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!!


  6. I’ve read only Wuthering Heights and loved it. Have to go back to Pride and Prejudice, read it in my late teens and have only the movie version in my mind. 😅

    Have the same edition of Middlemarch, a book I look forward to reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you enjoy Middlemarch! It’s a bit of a long one, but excellent 👌

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had started reading it but couldn’t finish it earlier. I love reading classics for their prose, the rich language. 😍

        It’s like living in that era where there was proper English, especially no sms terms. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Family dynamics are always fun to read — I prefer it to constantly reading about orphans, for sure! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jessica C Writes Avatar
    Jessica C Writes

    You are one of the only people I trust when it comes to classic recs, so I’ll definitely be adding some of these to my TBR!! I love the idea of this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh that means so much, thank you!! 💛 hope you enjoy them!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this! These are all either on my tbr or I’ve read them. I adored To the Lighthouse, as well. I highlighted so many passages in that little book. It’s beautiful! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I completely agree about To the Lighthouse, it’s such a beautiful novel! ❤


  10. Ah this is such a lovely list, thank you for sharing, Holly! I remember reading one hundred years of solitude for one of my lit classes and I really enjoyed it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you enjoyed it!! It’s such a beautiful, strange novel ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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About ME, Holly

former english major, current twenty-something book lover, allergic to nuts. drop me a line at or on instagram.


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