Vintage Publishing: 928 pages
If ‘books people pretend to have read to sound clever but actually have not read’ were a genre, this would be a classic example of it. Considered by many to be the perfect example of an English Victorian novel, don’t let the subtitle (’a study of provincial life’) put you off. Packed with finely-drawn characters living realistic lives – full of compromise, disappointment and fleeting joy – this is one you can return to again and again.
HarperCollins: 1,184 pages
This is technically three books (or, if you really want to get into it: six books, which are usually published as three) but we’re not going to let that worry us. There’d be little point in reading one without the others anyway, so pick up an edition which contains the whole story in a single volume and set yourself away on a journey which will decide the fate of Middle Earth…
HarperCollins: 912 pages
It’s more than a decade since the first part of the Wolf Hall trilogy was published, and following its success (and that of its follow up, Bring Up the Bodies) few books have been as anticipated as the final part of the trilogy: The Mirror and the Light. Get ready to immerse yourself once again in the precarious world of Thomas Cromwell, and allow Mantel to create intrigue, mystery and suspense – despite the fact that you know exactly how this story will end.
Little, Brown: 880 pages
Thrilling and haunting in turn, this Pulitzer-winning novel tells the story of Theo Decker, who, at the age of 13, finds himself alone in New York following the horrific death of his mother. High society meets downtown crime as this compelling story unfolds, and Theo journeys from New York to Las Vegas, and from childhood to maturity.
Penguin: 1,040 pages
To some, this is the most impressive and anarchic modernist novel ever written. To others, it’s simply impossible – impossible to follow, impossible to fathom, and impossible to finish. Loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses charts a day in the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin in 1904, in such a way that people haven’t stopped talking (and arguing) about it since it was published.
Hodder & Stoughton: 1,040 pages
A comfort blanket disguised as a novel. Spanning years and continents but somehow remaining homely and familiar, Pilcher’s story begins in 1935 with our protagonist, Judith, being left at boarding school in England as her family return to Singapore, and follows her as she makes friends, loses family and falls in love – before war sweeps across the world and changes everything. Few coming of age novels do it better.