Author Topic: Favourite novels that have poverty?  (Read 10389 times)

lifejoy

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Favourite novels that have poverty?
« on: January 15, 2017, 11:22:10 AM »
I like reading fiction where the main character has very little and often appreciates the little they have because it is all they have!

It reminds me to be grateful for all that I have. Got any recommendations for me?

allsummerlong

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2017, 11:32:09 AM »
- A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett (also wrote the Secret Garden!)
- Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
- The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver
- Germinal - Emile Zola
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
- Birdie - Tracey Lindberg
- Just Kids - Patti Smith
« Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 11:34:58 AM by allsummerlong »

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2017, 05:10:37 PM »
I recommend the "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is about her pioneer family's life and many moves further and further West as the Territories were being settled (in the US).  The series follows a somewhat fictionalized version of Laura's life from age 6-ish to the early years of her marriage.  The series is more aimed at older children than adults, but it's still very enjoyable.  The first book is Little House in the Big Woods.

There are other families they know that are "rich," but I don't remember Laura ever considering her family poor.
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syednaeemul

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2017, 08:55:23 PM »
Would Charles Dickens count? Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist come to mind, maybe there are a couple more.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2017, 09:01:17 PM »
-My Antonia by Willa Cather
-Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

It's been a while since I read either, but I seem to recall them having those themes. 
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marion10

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2017, 09:02:39 PM »
Of Human Bondage - Somerset Maugham
Les Miserables Victor Hugo


StarBright

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2017, 09:03:47 PM »
Would Charles Dickens count? Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist come to mind, maybe there are a couple more.

Little Dorrit (Dickens). The first half of the novel is literally subtitled "Poverty."

Also Nicholas Nickelby

vern

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2017, 09:35:35 PM »
Hunger by Knut Hamsun (It's free on the ereaders)

Factotum by Bukowski

They're not novels, but I really enjoyed Orwell 's Down and Out in Paris and London and Jack London's The Road
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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2017, 06:29:34 PM »
-My Antonia by Willa Cather
-Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

It's been a while since I read either, but I seem to recall them having those themes.
Hesse is excellent, in particular Siddhartha.

Apropos for this forum as well would be "The Good Earth"

allsummerlong

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2017, 11:17:53 PM »
Orwell 's Down and Out in Paris and London

That's a great book! I especially liked the Paris part.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2017, 08:41:38 AM »
-My Antonia by Willa Cather
-Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

It's been a while since I read either, but I seem to recall them having those themes.
Hesse is excellent, in particular Siddhartha.

Apropos for this forum as well would be "The Good Earth"

Oh GOD YES to "The Good Earth". That is one of the books that fundamentally shaped my world view, and I think of it often. (Particularly as it comes to family wealth, and what truly brings us happiness, etc).
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daverobev

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2017, 03:46:28 PM »
Grapes of Wrath is... epic.

Not a novel, but I did just read Hillbilly Elegy. It's interesting, if not that well written in parts.
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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2017, 06:08:29 PM »
These are great. Thanks everyone!

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2017, 08:47:53 PM »
Job by Heinlein
The Richest Man In Babylon by Clason
Fight Club by Palahniuk
All Quiet On The Western Front by Remarque
For Whom The Bell Tolls by Hemingway
Robinson Crusoe by Defoe
Confederacy Of Dunces by Toole
Station 11 by Mandel
Ready Player One by Cline
The Water Knife by Bacigalupi
Star's Reach by Greer
How I Became Stupid by Page

lifejoy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2017, 07:05:30 PM »
Job by Heinlein
The Richest Man In Babylon by Clason
Fight Club by Palahniuk
All Quiet On The Western Front by Remarque
For Whom The Bell Tolls by Hemingway
Robinson Crusoe by Defoe
Confederacy Of Dunces by Toole
Station 11 by Mandel
Ready Player One by Cline
The Water Knife by Bacigalupi
Star's Reach by Greer
How I Became Stupid by Page


+1 on Fight Club

And hey, I've only read half of "Ready Player One" (had to return it to the library). You're motivating me to read the rest! Thanks

Eirene

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2017, 04:36:39 AM »
The Water Knife by Bacigalupi
Almost anything by Bacigalupi set in a near and dystopian future (novels or short stories) will scare the shit out of people into (a) saving money for old age so that they have enough to pay for calories to keep going and (b) stop wasting so much water and other resources or else.

Great writer, grim future(s).

As as aside, a short story called People of Sand and Slag is not related (directly) to poverty but it's one of the greatest sci-fi shorts I've read in recent years.

MoneyMage

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2017, 01:32:44 AM »
Um... Harry Potter? Just kidding he gets piles and piles of inherited gold before the first book is even halfway over.

I love Ready Player One. Main character lives in a dystopian futuristic trailer park which is basically boxes and boxes piled on top of each other precariously. The book really isn't about poverty though, it's just a device used to make the protagonist sympathetic and give him a higher mountain to climb.

frugal-ET

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2017, 05:35:21 AM »
For those who like manga and read french, I would suggest "une sacrée mamie". It seems not translated in english.
The original version is "Gabai - Saga no Gabai Baachan".



Kriegsspiel

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2017, 09:20:42 AM »
Gone With The Wind by Mitchell

I don't know how I forgot to list that one.

GuitarStv

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2017, 09:31:53 AM »
The Water Knife by Bacigalupi
Almost anything by Bacigalupi set in a near and dystopian future (novels or short stories) will scare the shit out of people into (a) saving money for old age so that they have enough to pay for calories to keep going and (b) stop wasting so much water and other resources or else.

Great writer, grim future(s).

+1

I read The Windup Girl a couple years back and was immediately a big fan.  Great writer.

arebelspy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2017, 07:48:17 PM »
Came in here to post The Good Earth.

One of my top 5 fiction books of all time.
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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2017, 08:40:14 PM »
Came in here to post The Good Earth.

One of my top 5 fiction books of all time.

Love Buck.  I didn't even think of this novel. Very powerful story.
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Libertea

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2017, 08:51:26 AM »
Would Charles Dickens count? Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist come to mind, maybe there are a couple more.
I was going to say the same thing.  Add "David Copperfield" to the list of Dickens' books about an impoverished main character.

lifejoy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2017, 07:08:46 PM »
Job by Heinlein
The Richest Man In Babylon by Clason
Fight Club by Palahniuk
All Quiet On The Western Front by Remarque
For Whom The Bell Tolls by Hemingway
Robinson Crusoe by Defoe
Confederacy Of Dunces by Toole
Station 11 by Mandel
Ready Player One by Cline
The Water Knife by Bacigalupi
Star's Reach by Greer
How I Became Stupid by Page

"The Water Knife" was great. Not my usual read but damn, very affecting.

HappierAtHome

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2017, 07:18:55 PM »
Um... Harry Potter? Just kidding he gets piles and piles of inherited gold before the first book is even halfway over.

What about the Weasleys, though? They live in relative poverty (compared to how wealthy most Hogwarts students seem to be). I'm not sure if theirs is a cautionary tale about not making choices you can't afford (too many kids, single income, etc), or an inspiring tale about how when you have family and love and warmth, money is less relevant.

trashmanz

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #25 on: February 15, 2017, 11:58:53 PM »
Any World War Historical novel should have a good amount of poverty.  (e.g., Diary of Anne Frank as a classic, and more recent novels such as The Nightingale, and All the light we cannot see)

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2017, 05:38:15 PM »
Speaking of world war literature, If This Is a Man/Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi is excellent, though extremely depressing, so maybe the follow up The Truce/The Reawakening (why do the US versions always have to have a different name with Levi books?!) would be more uplifting. The latter describes Levi's circuitous route back to Italy from Auschwitz via the USSR. While it depicts the festering open wounds of post-war Europe, the tone of the book is upbeat and there are numerous hilarious and absurd vignettes.

trashmanz

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2017, 02:10:16 PM »
After the glowing recs for The Good Earth I read it yesterday.  It was difficult to get through, really didn't enjoy it.  The main character was so shallow and difficult to relate to, for me that makes it hard to get into. 

calimom

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2017, 03:24:04 PM »
"The Beans of Egypt, Maine" by Carolyn Chute

"The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner - formerly aristocratic family now down on their luck

arebelspy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #29 on: February 18, 2017, 04:54:29 PM »
After the glowing recs for The Good Earth I read it yesterday.  It was difficult to get through, really didn't enjoy it.  The main character was so shallow and difficult to relate to, for me that makes it hard to get into.

It's Olan you're supposed to relate to.

Seems like not liking Of Mice and Men because you couldn't relate to the "main character" George, when Lennie is actually the secret star.

/shrug
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trashmanz

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2017, 01:06:29 AM »
After the glowing recs for The Good Earth I read it yesterday.  It was difficult to get through, really didn't enjoy it.  The main character was so shallow and difficult to relate to, for me that makes it hard to get into.

It's Olan you're supposed to relate to.

Seems like not liking Of Mice and Men because you couldn't relate to the "main character" George, when Lennie is actually the secret star.

/shrug

Olan was even more shallow in character, like a manual labor automaton who goes about with wordless chores and hard labor as she is kicked and degraded.  Not everyone is like me though, else shows like Inspector Gadget wouldn't have been popular. 

arebelspy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2017, 01:11:51 AM »
I guess I wouldn't want to hear your opinion of Lennie, then.

We'll have to agree to disagree. :)
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Comar

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2017, 08:58:21 AM »
I want to recommend the First Law Series by Joe Abercrombie. Mainly because of the North but especially one of the main characters called Logen Ninefingers. In the first chapter if I recall correctly he kills an enemy with a cooking pan and thinks something like "damn this pan is so useful". He just really appreciates his cooking pan. Most of his friends are killers who ambush enemies in the freezing rain and mud. The stalk their enemies and try to make the most out of the terrain and such to overcome greater numbers. It's a band of dirt poor killers trying to survive with what they have. The first time Logen goes to a "big" medieval city he is just in awe, never seen so many people and is like "what is this "fountain" thing? How does it work? What magic is this?"

Highly recommend it. Often funny as hell.

Louisville

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2017, 09:18:14 AM »
Angela's Ashes.

Poignant and funny.  Things may be bad, but there's always someone who's worse off.

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2017, 09:59:18 AM »
Came here to post, but everyone else has already mentioned the books that came immediately to mind (The Good Earth, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Nicholas Nickleby, etc.) so now I'm posting to get more book recommendations!

Kaspian

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #35 on: February 24, 2017, 12:40:07 PM »
Angela's Ashes.

Poignant and funny.  Things may be bad, but there's always someone who's worse off.

I absolutely second this!  It's not fiction but a biography that reads as fiction.  ....Man, I really want to talk about a spoiler here, but I'll keep it zipped.
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lifejoy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #36 on: February 24, 2017, 01:43:51 PM »
Angela's Ashes.

Poignant and funny.  Things may be bad, but there's always someone who's worse off.

I absolutely second this!  It's not fiction but a biography that reads as fiction.  ....Man, I really want to talk about a spoiler here, but I'll keep it zipped.

So what's awkward is that I picked that book up second-hand and thought it was fiction. It really does read as fiction! I didn't finish it. But I think I would it 10x more engaging to know it was a true story! HAHA! Got to pick it up again.

arebelspy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #37 on: February 24, 2017, 01:58:26 PM »
In the first chapter if I recall correctly he kills an enemy with a cooking pan and thinks something like "damn this pan is so useful".

Same thing happens in the movie Tangled. Wonder if they borrowed the idea from that.
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LB4eva

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #38 on: February 24, 2017, 05:54:41 PM »
The Glass Castle

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #39 on: February 24, 2017, 06:11:47 PM »
I guess I wouldn't want to hear your opinion of Lennie, then.

We'll have to agree to disagree. :)

Honestly, been purposefully avoiding reading it because I know it will be sad and difficult (emotionally) to get through in the same way that I try to avoid pure horror movies/novels.  From what I recall though, knowing the general storyline I think I'd probably feel deeply for Lennie Small, perhaps because it is clear that he is disabled and thus I can sympathize with what he has to go through, I suppose looking at Olan as disabled would give her more sympathy in my eyes, but it felt more like her character was not thoroughly developed/described (perhaps because she was not a main character) so seemed more like a flaw/feature in the choice of how to develop the character by the author rather than Olan's actual particular mental capacity/disability (if that makes sense)...  Anyway, yes some books are quite polarizing, everyone is definitely open to carry and voice their opinions/disagreements, it has been food for thought to hear that Olan could be considered the main/pivotal character.  :)   

I guess, a followup question to you arebelspy, is wouldn't the good earth have been a "better"/more powerful book if Olan was more fully developed?  If she were a more major character and we had some idea what she was dealing with or could have followed her story more?  I just feel that there if she were more developed and less time was spent on the bumbling main character the book would have been more interesting, perhaps I am in the minority here, perhaps I am used to the main character being more "relatable" or having more redeeming qualities so that I can root of them.  Perhaps that is what makes the book regarded by others. 
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 06:16:27 PM by aFrugalFather »

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #40 on: February 24, 2017, 06:37:37 PM »
After the glowing recs for The Good Earth I read it yesterday.  It was difficult to get through, really didn't enjoy it.  The main character was so shallow and difficult to relate to, for me that makes it hard to get into.
I'm sorry to hear that! Next time I read it I'll have to look at it through a different lens; for some reason, for me, the simplicity is what is so powerful.
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arebelspy

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2017, 08:23:09 PM »
I guess I wouldn't want to hear your opinion of Lennie, then.

We'll have to agree to disagree. :)

Honestly, been purposefully avoiding reading it because I know it will be sad and difficult (emotionally) to get through in the same way that I try to avoid pure horror movies/novels.  From what I recall though, knowing the general storyline I think I'd probably feel deeply for Lennie Small, perhaps because it is clear that he is disabled and thus I can sympathize with what he has to go through, I suppose looking at Olan as disabled would give her more sympathy in my eyes, but it felt more like her character was not thoroughly developed/described (perhaps because she was not a main character) so seemed more like a flaw/feature in the choice of how to develop the character by the author rather than Olan's actual particular mental capacity/disability (if that makes sense)...  Anyway, yes some books are quite polarizing, everyone is definitely open to carry and voice their opinions/disagreements, it has been food for thought to hear that Olan could be considered the main/pivotal character.  :)   

I guess, a followup question to you arebelspy, is wouldn't the good earth have been a "better"/more powerful book if Olan was more fully developed?  If she were a more major character and we had some idea what she was dealing with or could have followed her story more?  I just feel that there if she were more developed and less time was spent on the bumbling main character the book would have been more interesting, perhaps I am in the minority here, perhaps I am used to the main character being more "relatable" or having more redeeming qualities so that I can root of them.  Perhaps that is what makes the book regarded by others.

I thought she was developed. Her looking at him with "dull eyes" is a powerful image, to me.

It's all good; not everyone has to like the same stuff. It's a good thing we don't. :)
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lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2017, 09:05:48 PM »
I always thought the bleak & direct nature of The Good Earth was an asset. Compare this anecdote (hope that works!).

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #43 on: February 24, 2017, 09:17:58 PM »
I always thought the bleak & direct nature of The Good Earth was an asset. Compare this anecdote (hope that works!).

That linked me to a book, not an anecdote.  Is it short enough to quote here?
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lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #44 on: February 24, 2017, 09:21:04 PM »
Yes, it's an anecdote in a book beginning with "We have the personal story of one such workhorse, an orphan". I see though it omits a page for some reason, too bad! I don't have the text elsewhere accessible that I know of.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #45 on: February 24, 2017, 10:18:14 PM »
Yes, it's an anecdote in a book beginning with "We have the personal story of one such workhorse, an orphan". I see though it omits a page for some reason, too bad! I don't have the text elsewhere accessible that I know of.
Worked for me. Except for the missing page.
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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #46 on: February 27, 2017, 05:22:41 AM »
Angela's Ashes.

Poignant and funny.  Things may be bad, but there's always someone who's worse off.

I absolutely second this!  It's not fiction but a biography that reads as fiction.  ....Man, I really want to talk about a spoiler here, but I'll keep it zipped.

Yup, I third this-  the poor Irish was a trait in many Australian novels for most of the 19th & 20th century, the country being a recipient of so many who fled Ireland; the real Ned Kelly was the embodiment of the poor Irish when fate, circumstance and political climate conspired to keep his family poor and downtrodden.

My contributions:

Harp in the South by Ruth Park (what a slum Surry Hills in Sydney was before the inner city trendies with $3m terraces today)
Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell (vivid scene of him as a dish pig in a hotel)
Emma by Jane Austen (poor Harriet)

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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #47 on: February 27, 2017, 06:14:59 AM »
I recommend the "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is about her pioneer family's life and many moves further and further West as the Territories were being settled (in the US).  The series follows a somewhat fictionalized version of Laura's life from age 6-ish to the early years of her marriage.  The series is more aimed at older children than adults, but it's still very enjoyable.  The first book is Little House in the Big Woods.

There are other families they know that are "rich," but I don't remember Laura ever considering her family poor.

I loved the Little House books, to the point that when the TV series started I was horrified that Michael Landon was playing Pa--"he doesn't even have a beard!"  (give me a break, I was seven)I was surprised in my adulthood to learn that two events on the show that were not in the books--the birth and death of the baby brother and the Ingallses running a hotel--actually happened.  Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder's first manuscript on which the Little House books were based, was published a couple of years ago--heavily annotated, I might add--and boy, were those books cleaned up.  The Ingalls family was extremely poor.
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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2017, 07:46:39 AM »
I recommend the "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is about her pioneer family's life and many moves further and further West as the Territories were being settled (in the US).  The series follows a somewhat fictionalized version of Laura's life from age 6-ish to the early years of her marriage.  The series is more aimed at older children than adults, but it's still very enjoyable.  The first book is Little House in the Big Woods.

There are other families they know that are "rich," but I don't remember Laura ever considering her family poor.

I loved the Little House books, to the point that when the TV series started I was horrified that Michael Landon was playing Pa--"he doesn't even have a beard!"  (give me a break, I was seven)I was surprised in my adulthood to learn that two events on the show that were not in the books--the birth and death of the baby brother and the Ingallses running a hotel--actually happened.  Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder's first manuscript on which the Little House books were based, was published a couple of years ago--heavily annotated, I might add--and boy, were those books cleaned up.  The Ingalls family was extremely poor.

Oh that is interesting!  I knew there had been a brother somewhere in there who didn't appear in the books, but the hotel is a surprise to me.  (I have not see the TV series.)  With the brother, it looks like he was born sometime between Big Woods and Prairie, when Carrie and Grace "mysteriously" appear.
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Re: Favourite novels that have poverty?
« Reply #49 on: February 27, 2017, 09:22:34 AM »
I recommend the "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is about her pioneer family's life and many moves further and further West as the Territories were being settled (in the US).  The series follows a somewhat fictionalized version of Laura's life from age 6-ish to the early years of her marriage.  The series is more aimed at older children than adults, but it's still very enjoyable.  The first book is Little House in the Big Woods.

There are other families they know that are "rich," but I don't remember Laura ever considering her family poor.

I loved the Little House books, to the point that when the TV series started I was horrified that Michael Landon was playing Pa--"he doesn't even have a beard!"  (give me a break, I was seven)I was surprised in my adulthood to learn that two events on the show that were not in the books--the birth and death of the baby brother and the Ingallses running a hotel--actually happened.  Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder's first manuscript on which the Little House books were based, was published a couple of years ago--heavily annotated, I might add--and boy, were those books cleaned up.  The Ingalls family was extremely poor.

I loved Pioneer Girl, but it's not fiction in the same way the others are.

In the same vein, The Worst Hard Time, about the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, was wonderfully sobering and really put life into perspective.

Another one that's not fiction but reads like fiction, I can never recommend Mrs. Mike enough. It's about a young woman who, in the early 1900s, was recommended to go north to Canada (from Boston) for her health. She met and married a Mountie when she was 15 and they ended up moving up to the Yukon. It's one of my favorite books. It's not about poverty per se, but they definitely didn't have much and endured quite a lot.