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Best Novels of 2006

Without a long preamble, I give you...

The 10 Best Novels I Read in 2006

10. Fire From Heaven, Mary Renault. Evocative look at the young life and loves of Alexander the Great. Mmm, snakes and shields and homoeroticism.

9. The Ivy Tree, Mary Stewart. Sometimes I just need me a cozy old 1950s English mystery/romance, and I liked this one in particular because of the possibly-unreliable narrator.

8. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro. Funny yet heartbreaking--the perfect butler's memoirs.

7. Jean de Florette and its sequel Manon of the Springs, Marcel Pagnol. It's all about groundwater--and crime, punishment, family, community, and ridiculously lovely French countrysides.

6. Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman. As a cover quote said, it's never easy to get along with family, especially when they're the gods. So funny and frivolous and unlike everything else--Gaiman, as usual, rocks my socks.

5. The Highest Tide, Jim Lynch. A giant squid washes up in a Puget Sound backwater; but really it's a coming-of-age story. For a kid, I mean, not the squid.

4. A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin. Books 2 and 3 in marvelously addictive fantasy series. Haven't yet read book 4, which I've heard is less great, but these kept me lolling around and turning pages many a day.

3. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith. She captures a castle and also all the giddiness and angst of teen love, in the picturesque if silly setting of an early 20th century English ruin, with a narrator you either love or can't relate to. With me, as you can guess, it was love.

2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon. The scope! The humor! The poignancy! The imagination! The vocabulary! Quite possibly the Great American Novel!

1. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell. Or else THIS is the Great American Novel--for the Civil War era, anyway. Fine literature, well deserving of its Pulitzer, cleverly disguised as a bodice ripper. What's not to like?

Happy new year!



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2007 12:36 pm (UTC)
I've read about half of those, and I agree with you on them! I actually studied The Remains of the Day for A level. And I had a bit of a thing for Mary Renault when I was a teen, but my memories of her books have faded quite a bit so it may be time to revisit them!

And Gone With The Wind is just brilliant, full stop.
Jan. 4th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
Near the beginning of 'Remains of the Day' there's a passage where Stevens describes the subtle beauty of the English countryside, and in my opinion it captures it perfectly. Even though I'm an outsider, I found it perfectly reflected my feelings on why I love England's landscapes. :)
Jan. 1st, 2007 04:43 pm (UTC)
YAY for Mary Stewart, I Capture the Castle and GWTW. Three of my favourite literary things. :-) *hugs* Happy New Year, ma'am!
Jan. 4th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
Such good taste you have. ;) Happy '07 to you as well!
Jan. 4th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks! ;-) You have great taste, yourself. What's on your list to read this year?
Jan. 9th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, all kinds of things. I'm finally reading Sense and Sensibility, and of course loving it. And maybe I'll make some headway on my 4-page Amazon wish list!
Jan. 15th, 2007 02:06 am (UTC)
Aw, yay! That's such an amazing classic. Love the Austen. :-) Groovy about your wish list....we are so much alike, mine is about three or four pages, too. LOL!
Jan. 1st, 2007 05:33 pm (UTC)
I just finished "I Capture the Castle" last week, after reading at the behest of a friend who said, "I think that you, being in love, will relate to it especially well." Though she was slightly off about the reasons I related to it, I did still adore it.

Also, "Kavalier and Clay" is quite possibly the best thing I've read in the last THREE years.

Jan. 4th, 2007 01:11 am (UTC)
I think any girl who has survived teen love and has ever held any romantic notions could relate to Cassandra. Being an Anglophile does help too. :)

Kavalier and Clay really was wonderful. I've heard movie rumors...but it would hard to squish it into two or three hours.
Jan. 1st, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
I adore The Remains of the Day. Kavalier and Clay is well worth all the praise it gets. Eventually, I believe it will be listed up there with The Great Gatsby when it comes to the "great" novels.

Glad you like Pagnol. On the world literatue front for this year, I'd recommend anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Read along with William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Then, read The Visit, a play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. All three are connected and all are favorite reads of mine for '06.
Jan. 4th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
*notes those*

I have never read Marquez, though I keep meaning to. We have The General in His Labyrinth and One Hundred Years of Solitude around; how do those stack up? (I think Steve wasn't enthralled with them, but then I'm the one who's more into magic realism.)

I read some movie rumors about Kavalier & Clay. Seems they're having trouble condensing it into a tidy script (no surprise), and it might get indefinitely hung up. In a way it's too bad, as I'd like to see an adaptation; but it could be done so badly, it might be best left alone. One of the casting rumors was Jude Law as Kavalier. Now, I like Jude very much, but he is really not the ideal choice for an Eastern European Jew.
Jan. 5th, 2007 12:58 pm (UTC)
Happy New Year!! I picked up Gone With the Wind out of summer boredom one year when I was a teen and tore through it in like 3 days - I couldn't believe how good it was.

So you're saying I should read these George R.R. Martin books?? I will if you say so ... am finishing book 2 of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle now ... not making a direct comparison, just wondering how many series I ought to take on at once.
Jan. 9th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
You have to explain the greatness of GWTW to my husband, then, who still doesn't want to read it on account of it being "girly" and about a subject that doesn't interest him. Uh, like *I* regularly devour Civil War novels? No sir, only really good ones like this.

I haven't read the Baroque Cycle (though I really liked Snow Crash), but yes, I know what you mean about series. I kind of resent them myself, for the obligations they present. Martin's series is pretty easy reading, at least; just big. And brutal. He's good at torturing characters. So, you know, if that appeals...:)
Jan. 10th, 2007 12:50 pm (UTC)
Gryn. I was beginning to worry when I didn't see GWTW on the list, knowing you'd read it this year. I feel better now. :-) I actually asked for (and got) a new paperback copy for Xmas, because mine literally fell apart from being reread so many times.

*kicks Selznik again for that ring business at the fundraising ball*
Jan. 11th, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
But of course, it is unforgettable and unsurpassable! :)

I know it could go horribly wrong, but I still pine for a big long modern remake of the film.
Mar. 16th, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)
Do you have the e-version of Fire From Heaven? I'm desperate to read it and it isn't stocked in a single store in Calcutta.
Mar. 18th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
Sorry; mine was a paper copy. I don't even know if there is an e-version. Good luck!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )