The Literary Life

Two top literary agents on trends in book publishing, with recommendations for your reading list.

A Harvest of Thanksgiving Novels

Get in the Thanksgiving mood with these holiday novels.

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and every year I like to get into the mood—extend the holiday, as it were—by reading "Thanksgiving novels." I'd like to share my title list with you. Not surprisingly, these stories are mostly about family, about coming together to heal old hurts and giving thanks for the gift of love. Some of these books are only available used or at your library.

General Fiction

Thanksgiving Night by Richard Bausch

At the heart of this quirky, heartwarming story are two squabbling women—Holly Grey and her aunt Fiona—who want to have their house literally divided in half. Meanwhile, family drama swirls around them.

The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne

Another dysfunctional family comes together for Thanksgiving in this story of Cynthia, a writer who returns to Concord, Massachusetts, for a reunion with her estranged father.

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Bitter Harvest by Susan Bowden

Michelle visits her elderly estranged grandmother Eleanor over Thanksgiving and finally meets her deceased mother's family. Is someone trying to harm Eleanor? Michelle decides to keep her safe—at great risk to herself. Highly suspenseful.

A Secret Affair by Barbara Taylor Bradford

In Venice to meet an old friend, war-weary foreign correspondent Bill spots a darkly beautiful woman sitting alone in a bar. The three American expatriates decide to spend Thanksgiving together, and a fateful love affair begins.

The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote

This short story, a polished gem, is based on Capote's bittersweet memories of his early childhood. The narrator, Buddy, tells of the Thanksgiving that his eccentric spinster cousin invited Buddy's archenemy Odd Henderson to dinner. This extremely moving tale is one of my all-time favorites.

Courting Disaster by Julie Edelson

This whacky Southern novel centering on a Thanksgiving weekend explores how families deal with the loss of a child.

The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford

Frank Bascom's second wife has left him and he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Can he bring his troubled family together for Thanksgiving weekend?

Dear James by Jon Hassler

A touching novel about forgiveness and friendship featuring elderly Miss Agatha McGee, who finds herself wondering about the friends gathered around her Thanksgiving table (a hilarious scene).

Model Behavior by Jay McInerney

Classic Manhattan McInerney in this story of disillusioned celebrity journalist Connor. My favorite scene takes place during Thanksgiving dinner in a fancy restaurant, when Connor's father— Well, I'll let you find out what he does.

The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff

This one's not heartwarming; it's scary. A group of college students who opt to stay on campus over Thanksgiving inadvertently summon what they believe is the ghost of a student who died there years ago.

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

The story of a Baltimore family whose members have a tradition of meeting their angels. The story features a dysfunctional potluck Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey.

♦   ♦   ♦

Category fiction more to your taste? Try these.

Mystery

  • A Catered Thanksgiving by Iris Crawford (a client of my literary agency)
  • Thanksgiving Day Murder by Lee Harris
  • Death of a Mill Girl by Clyde Linsley
  • The Telltale Turkey Caper by Georgette Livingston
  • Celt and Pepper by Ralph McInerney
  • Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier

Romance

  • A Million Tomorrows by Marylee Anderson
  • Their First Thanksgiving by Stella Bagwell
  • The Giving Season by Rebecca Brock
  • Tempting Mr. Wright by Sue Civil-Brown
  • Before Thanksgiving Comes by Marisa Carroll
  • Home For Thanksgiving by Suzanne Carey
  • A Randall Thanksgiving by Judy Christenberry
  • English as a Second Language by Megan Crane
  • Disappear by Kay David
  • A Family for Thanksgiving by Patricia Davids
  • Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich
  • Logan's Bride by Christine Flynn
  • Holiday Homecoming by Jillian Hart
  • Navy Dad by Metsy Hingle
  • Once Upon a Thanksgiving by Holly Jacobs
  • Nightmare Run by Christine Janssen
  • Someone's Baby by Sandra Kitt
  • Thanksgiving Prayer by Debbie Macomber
  • No Place like Home by Fern Michaels
  • Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • No More Mr. Nice by Renée Roszel
  • The Thanksgiving Target by Laura Scott
  • Angel's Roost by Janet Spaeth
  • The Rancher's Family Thanksgiving by Cathy Gillen Thacker
  • A Thanksgiving to Remember by Margaret Watson

Have I missed any? Please let me know. Happy Thanksgiving!

Evan Marshall is the president of The Evan Marshall Agency, a leading literary management firm that represents a number of New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors.

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