Big Issue Vendor

Top 5 books on family life

Irish author Marian Keyes, who has penned several books taking on modern women and family life, gives us her top five books on family life
Marian Keyes lists her top 5 books on family life. Image credit: Morning Bird Photo / Pixabay

After repeated lockdowns, many of us might feel like we have seen quite enough of our family for one lifetime. 

But books about family life can still be some of the most enjoyable, charming and comforting during these strange and uncertain times. 

Here, Irish author Marian Keyes, who has penned several books taking on modern women and family life, gives us her top five. 

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.


The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard

This seems the obvious first choice. Five novels, following the lives and loves of an upper middle-class English family, the Cazalets is both panoramic and exquisitely detailed. The books begin in 1937 and finish in 1956 and have countless devoted fans.


Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Sibling rivalry? Dysfunctional relationships? A mysterious death? Step this way! This dark, grim, thrillingly honest book about three brothers and their manipulative mother is unputdownable. It might also make you feel that your own family isn’t that bad, actually.


Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Such a funny book! Written in 1932, townie Flora Poste goes to live in Sussex with the Starkadders, her extensive family of country bumpkin cousins. A merciless and brilliant parody of rural melodrama novels, it always cheers me up.


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

One of my most favourite books ever. A US missionary and his four daughters move to the Congo in 1959 to try to convert the locals. But rebellion is in the air. Their life is told in four different strands by the four daughters, who all have different, sometimes contradictory, versions of events. Everyone should read this.  


You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

This focuses on the mother-daughter relationship, giving us a vivid, painful look at the consequences of growing up with a mother who, because of her own trauma, is unable to give unconditional love to her daughter.

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes is out now (Penguin Michael Joseph, £8.99)