feature: Life Stories in Literature

#TopTenTuesday   Multigenerational Family Dramas 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Here’s how it works: Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic for each Tuesday. If you check this link, you’ll find she’s assigned topics for several future weeks so you can plan ahead. She adds, “create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list . . . Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you!”

Each week Jana posts a Linky on her blog where you can (if you want) share a link to your post and check out other bloggers’ posts.

Today’s assigned topic is a freebie related to school. But I’ve decided to go off on a tangent that will help me set up my next reading project.

decorative plate that says "Home is where your story begins"

School is the second place where children become socialized. But the first place is home. Home is where we begin to learn how to interact with the people around us and how we fit into that social group. At home we first learn what behavior is expected of us and what behavior is frowned upon or forbidden. Home is where we begin to develop our self-concept, our idea of who we are and how we fit in.

Life Stories in Literature




we are what we remember

inside vs. outside stories


hidden identities & secrets


creating/controlling one’s own narrative

cultural appropriation

alternate life options

alternative selves

turning points/life decisions

when/how lives intersect

multiple points of view

rewriting history

change your story, change your life

And home is at the heart of much of the fiction that I most like to read. Novels that treat both the joys and the sorrows that spring from family can give us insight into our own hearts and minds. And the bigger the family, the better.

“in the context of a novel, family drama is often too delicious to dismiss. Deep-rooted tradition, scarring emotional cycles, and, of course, secrets upon dirty secrets make for a riveting read no matter the actual plot. Add a multigenerational layer to the genre and sprinkle in some to-be-expected comedic family interactions, and you’re likely not leaving the couch for a few days as you turn pages.”

Chris Gaudio

I’ve loved many such big, meaty, intergenerational family sagas over my reading life, and I’ve listed and talked about those books a lot on Notes in the Margin. This list comprise books I haven’t yet read or reviewed on the blog.

Here, then, are seven multigenerational family dramas on my TBR list + three I’ve read in the past but have not reviewed here. Because I haven’t reviewed any of these books yet, the links below are to the Goodreads summary of each one.

Have you read any of these books? If you have, tell me about them in the comments. And I look forward to perusing your Top Ten Tuesday list for this week.

Multigenerational Family Dramas on My TBR List

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Multigenerational Novels I Have Read but Not Reviewed

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Study Notes

13 Sweeping Family Sagas

25 family sagas that will sweep you away

Best Family Sagas

8 Intergenerational Family Sagas to Dig into This Winter

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

14 thoughts on “#TopTenTuesday   Multigenerational Family Dramas ”

  1. Wow. What a thorough post. So many of the titles are books I haven’t read but I do agree with Life’s Invisible Furies, The Vanishing Half and Sing, Unburied, Sing. All heavy books.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Anne. The 3 you mention have all been sitting on my TBR shelf for quite some time. I really want to get to then all, but 4 (yes, 4) of my library holds have all come in at once. Thankfully, one of them, Fellowship Point, is also one of these family sagas.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks, Lydia. I really resonated with your post today! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Mary – it’s amazing that you recognized Stadium high school in my photo You’re exactly right! Not many people would recognize it but it’s certainly a beautiful building. I live in Kent and we trek to Tacoma every now and then to enjoy a “smaller city life” day. And your book list is great – I enjoy a good generational story and have read a couple of these and a couple more are on my TBR. I’ll look up the others. Thanks for stopping by!
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      We really enjoy living in Tacoma precisely because it’s a smaller city. Although we enjoy the occasional journey to Seattle, we’re happy to have less traffic and smaller distances between things down here.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Rae. I enjoyed your list, too. I think I’m going to use the topic of books set in academia for a future TTT entry.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thank you, Cindy. I took a look at your “rogue” post, and I can certainly relate. (I posted a fuller explanation in a comment there.) Keep on reading!

  3. Great twist on the topic. Yes, we all learn at home before we learn at school. There are a few books I liked among them, The Clockmaker’s Daughter and All the Light We Cannot See. I didn’t like The Corrections at all but it fis well into your list.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT this week.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Thanks for commenting, Marianne. I confess I remember almost nothing about The Corrections. I think I should add it to my “reread” list.

  4. The last multigenerational novel I read was A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. Well written but I couldn’t really see what point she was trying to make.

  5. Mary Daniels Brown

    I haven’t read that one. I’ve kind of lost track of Anne Tyler’s books–not because I don’t like them, but because of “so many books, so little time.”

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