For a book lover, nothing beats a really good novel you can read and savor in the space of a weekend – or even in one long sitting. I just finished reading Paulette Jiles’ News of the World. I started the book the day before yesterday, found myself seriously engaged in it, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. It was a truly marvelous book.
Short novels tend to swiftly whisk us off to another world and keep us there, capturing our full attention, but just for a day or two. Short novels typically have just one or two main characters, tight writing, and a plot that moves. I love big fat novels that allow you to wallow in their complex worlds for weeks, but short novels are like perfect chocolate truffles: short-lived, delicious pleasures.
Here are some of my favorite short novels (of about 200 pages or less):
Paulette Jiles, News of the World (Set in post-Civil War Texas, an old man is charged with returning a young girl captured by the Kiowa tribe to her surviving relatives. Riveting.)
Dai Sijie and Ina Rilke, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (A gorgeous story of two Chinese boys living on their own, books, and love for a girl)
Jane Mendelsohn, I was Amelia Earhart (A beautifully written novel of what might have happened to the famous aviator)
Tracy Chevalier, Girl With a Pearl Earring (A classic story of a young girl, based on the painting)
Rick Moody, Hotels of North America (Quirky)
And because it’s Lent and some of us are not giving up chocolate…
Joanne Harris, Chocolat (A priest in France has a hissy fit when a new chocolate shop opens during Lent. A bit longer than 200 pages, but a quick read.)