Reading New England: Fiction


Welcome to the second month of the Reading New England Challenge! This month I’m focusing on fiction, a very broad category indeed. Out of the abundance of classic, contemporary, historical, and literary fiction produced about the region, readers should be able to find something to suit their tastes, whatever those may be.

From the New England Book List I’ve selected one title that interests me from each state. I doubt that I’ll get to all of these this month, but it gives me a good set of options.


New Hampshire: A Prayer for Owen Meany

I just finished this 600-page saga of two boys growing up in a New Hampshire town (based on Exeter), and coming of age in the Vietnam era. It was my first John Irving novel and at first I found his digressive style a bit difficult to get into, but it grew on me. And now I finally know what that armadillo on the cover is all about.

Maine: Olive Kitteridge

I’ve heard great things about Elizabeth Strout’s writing, so this will be a high priority for me. And I just received a copy thanks to a giveaway at The Book Stop! Perfect timing.

Vermont: The Inn at Lake Devine

A romantic comedy by Elinor Lipman — with a serious strain about anti-Semitism —  could be just the thing to liven up dull winter days.

Massachusetts: The Wolves of Andover

I received this in a book swap last year and this would be a great time to finally read it. This historical novel by Kathleen Kent draws on the ever-popular theme of the Salem witch trials.

WitchesEastwickRhode Island: The Witches of Eastwick

Keeping with the witchy theme, this black comedy/fantasy set in a seaside town sounds like a lot of fun. I really ought to read something by John Updike at some point, too.

Connecticut: Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House

I have this on my list for the Back to the Classics Challenge, so this would be a good time to knock it off.

A few other New England novels I’d really like to read:

  • The Country of the Pointed Firs (Maine)
  • Midwives (Vermont)
  • The Rise of Silas Lapham (Massachusetts)
  • I Know This Much Is True (Connecticut)


What’s on your list? Any other recommendations?

17 thoughts on “Reading New England: Fiction

  1. I just finished Sarah Jewett’s The Ckuntry of Pointed Firs, it really uses the Maine off shore island setting in a wonderful way. Are there any 19th century novels for NH, Vermont or other states you can suggest.


    1. That is a good question – I can’t find much. The Rise of Silas Lapham is about a former farmer from Vermont who tries to break into Boston society. I haven’t read it yet so I don’t know how much is actually set in Vermont. If you find anything else do let me know!


  2. Hey, I’m planning on reading The Wolves of Andover for my Massachusetts book! 🙂 I hope it’s as good as it sounds. And I can’t wait to hear what you think about Olive Kitteridge; I’ve been debating about whether I want to read that book or not. Happy Reading!


    1. Interesting! I had not heard of that one before my book swap partner sent it to me. And I’ll be sure to share my thoughts about Olive Kitteridge; I hope it lives up to its reputation too.


    1. This challenge is good for helping me to get into authors (like John Irving) that I’ve always heard of but never read.

      I was inspired by the “Reading England” challenge — a similar idea but for the counties of England. But you’re right, I haven’t seen anything quite like this for American regions elsewhere.


  3. I finished reading Olive Kitteridge and am working on my thoughts about it right now. Which is turning out to be hard, because I loved it so much! I’m so happy that your challenge finally pushed me to read it. 🙂


  4. I am reading The Inn at Lake Devine for this month, too.

    I also thought about Olive Kitteridge, as others here have read or are thinking about. What is the pull for this book, I wonder? I will be interested in the reviews of it and perhaps try to make time to read it!


    1. It won the Pulitzer prize and a couple of years ago was made into a highly acclaimed mini-series with Frances McDormand … plus the author just released a new novel. I think those are some reasons for the buzz.


    1. I have not seen the movie yet, but it’s always interesting to me to compare movie adaptations with the originals. I find it’s almost impossible to make a great movie out of a great book because they are such different mediums; what’s good about the book almost inevitably gets lost. A not-so-great book can actually benefit from the switch.


  5. This sounds like a fun challenge for me! I used to live in that neck of the woods when I lived in Maine. I also lived in the mid-coast state of NY so I enjoy stories set up in that part of the country, especially atmospheric ones featuring the setting as a character 🙂

    Your blog was recommended to me by your book friend Lark @ Bookwyrm’s Hoard.


    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Rita, and thanks to Lark for the recommendation. I do hope you’ll find some New England books to read along with us — there are so many wonderful possibilities.


  6. I hope you enjoy The Inn at Lake Devine! Loved that book. I tried to read Peyton Place for NH last month, but couldn’t really get into it so I abandoned it. I’ll be rejoining in March to read a Maine book! Thanks again for hosting this challenge!


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