Get to know these desperate housewives from these 5 must-read novels.
1. Carry Me Home by Sandra Kring
“1940. Rural Wisconsin. Sixteen-year-old Earl “Earwig” Gunderman is not like other boys his age. Fiercely protected by his older brother, Earwig sees his town and the world around him through the prism of his own unique understanding. He sees his mother’s sadness and his father’s growing solitude. He sees his brother, Jimmy, falling in love with the most beautiful girl in town. And while Earwig is unable to make change for customers at his family’s store, he is singularly well suited to understand what other people in his town cannot: that life as they know it is about to change; the coming war will touch them all.”
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
“Madame Bovary (1856) is the French writer Gustave Flaubert’s debut novel. The story focuses on a doctor’s wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel’s true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. Flaubert was a notorious perfectionist and claimed always to be searching for le mot juste (“the precise word”). When it was first serialized in La Revue de Paris between 1 October 1856 and 15 December 1856, the novel was attacked for obscenity by public prosecutors. The resulting trial, held in January 1857, made the story notorious. After Flaubert’s acquittal on 7 February 1857, Madame Bovary became a bestseller when it was published as a single volume in April 1857. The novel is now considered Flaubert’s masterpiece, as well as a seminal work of realism and one of the most influential novels ever written. In fact, the notable British-American critic James Wood writes in How Fiction Works: ‘Flaubert established for good or ill, what most readers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible.'”
3. Heaven and Other Zip Codes: A Novel by Mathieu Cailler
“Heaven and Other Zip Codes follows the complicated relationships between lonely, thirty-something-year-old mother Searcy, her awkward preadolescent son Theo, cheating husband and disingenuous stepfather Hoit, and young, attractive, painter-turned-after-school-tutor Emerson.
“When anonymous letters accusing Hoit of infidelity start to arrive on the doorstep, Searcy develops feelings toward Emerson, and the family begins to fracture in the sunny Southern California suburb they call home. Will Searcy and Emerson act upon their feelings? Will Hoit’s adulterous exploits come back to haunt him? Will the boys at school stop bullying Theo? Who is writing the mysterious letters? And where exactly is the location of Heaven and Other Zip Codes?
“This contemporary novel explores family, guilt, manipulation, betrayal, and love.”
4. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
“In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years. At once a fragile girl and a hard-edged cynic, so tough to love yet so inimitably lovable, Dolores is as poignantly real as our own imperfections. She’s Come Undone includes a promise: you will never forget Dolores Price.”
5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
“‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again.’ With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house’s current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim’s first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.”3 comments