The family sagas on this list are all multi-generational novels that are riveting, emotional journeys that will leave you wanting more. Each of these family sagas is filled with love and loss and the characters live their lives.
You will get to know them, love them, hate them, and dream for them before the story is done. These family sagas are so varied from the time they take place to where they take place. But, they will all leave you feeling like you know the characters within the pages.
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What is a Family Saga?
There are so many amazing books about families but not all family dramas are family sagas as well. What is a family saga? It is a fictional story that closely follows a family or multiple generations of a family throughout their lives. You will get to know these characters intimately by the end of the book. If you are looking for family drama books, head here!
Beautiful Family Sagas
Immigration Family Sagas // Classic Family Sagas // Family Sagas Set in America // Set in Africa & Asia // Set in Europe // Celebrity Book Club Picks // Series // Set in NYC
Immigration Family Sagas
July 2023 Read With Jenna Book Club Pick
Minh, Ann’s grandmother, has died leaving her home to Ann and her mother, right during a time when Ann’s life is in upheaval. She just found out her long-term boyfriend is cheating on her and she’s now pregnant with his baby.
Traveling back to Florida to see the Banyan Tree house, Ann also has a chance to reconnect with her estranged mother, Huơng or sever the tie to her roots completely.
I loved Ann’s journey to self-discovery and the flashbacks that told Minh’s life story and how she immigrated from Vietnam. My only caveat is that the ending wasn’t all I wanted it to be. It was good but left time wanting more from this family sage.
August 2023 Good Morning America Book Club Pick
This is the first adult book from National Book Award Winner Elizabeth Acevedo, whose YA novels we devour. #gifted
It’s about the women in a Domenican-American family, their special gifts, and the bonds they share with each other. It starts off with Flor, who has the ability to know the date of people’s death, informing everyone that she wants a living wake.
As her family grapples with what that means, Acevedo explores each woman’s special gift and how it has impacted their lives.
I was fascinated by the magical realism elements of the story, but it was the depth of the characters that drew me in. Rich in culture and exquisitely written, this family saga wove a magical realism story I never wanted to end.
This family saga book is an epic tale of a family through the generations. I absolutely adored the first half of the book. I felt like I knew each of the characters so well as I rooted for them and loved them.
Even though the book was close to 500 pages, I felt like the second half of the book was rushed. This is a rare occasion in which I wish there was more to the book, particularly the ending. I wanted to know more and to feel like I knew the characters as I did at the beginning. From Korea to Japan, this is an epic historical fiction novel.
This book is a sweeping family saga that tells the multigenerational tale of the Tran family. The author is a Vietnamese poet which is obvious by the beautiful writing.
Trần Diệu Lan was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Communist land reform. Hà Nội, her granddaughter, is raised by her grandmother in the Vietnam war. This is a beautiful story of love, family, loyalty, and survival, and was a beautiful book to listen to. This family saga is such a great pick for book clubs because there is so much to talk about.
Classic Family Sagas
For the record, I read this book BEFORE Oprah picked it! We spent a semester learning about this family saga during my Senior Year. Each person was assigned a symbol to report on throughout the book each week.
Mine was goldfish -part of the symbolism of amnesia and the duality between amnesia and nostalgia. Yep. I still remember the lesson. Maybe is was the teaching that contributed but, this remains one of my favorite books ever. This is a perfect example of a literary fiction book that is also a magical realism book.
Although I read this family saga decades ago, it has stayed with me for all that time. It is the story of Kunta Kinte who is captured from his home, put on a boat, and sold into slavery. The story follows many generations of the family.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning book is a powerful and unforgettable saga based on the author’s family. Alex Haley has traced his family roots back 200 years to tell the story of Kunta Kinte and 25,000,000 other Americans. This amazing and heart-breaking book is a must-read.
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers who are born secretly to a nun and a surgeon. They are orphaned when their mother dies and their father disappears.
This sweeping family saga is set over three decades from Ethiopia to America as Ethiopia is on the brink of a revolution. This is another epic family saga that is not to be missed.
Family Sagas Set in America
Hula is not only one of the best beach read of 2023, but it’s also one of the best books of 2023! I picked up this book based on the cover and the thoughts of the hula dance competition, but instead of the fun read I was expecting, I got a coming-of-age story about a light-skinned Hawaiian who is trying to prove she belongs by learning to Hula.
But this Hula isn’t just a dance, it keeps the legends and legacies of the Hawaiian culture alive. Sprinkled throughout this story, while Hi’i is fighting to prove her worth, we see glimpses of her mother and grandmother’s lives, as well el as vignettes that explain Hawaii’s history, colonization, and the struggle of native Hawaiians today.
There is so much to uncover in this book, so many layers to absorb. I was entertained while reading it, but more importantly, I learned so much. I’ll be raving about this for years to come! This is one of the best thought-provoking books I have ever read.
I’ve read a lot of books about WWII but not as many books about what it was like after the war. This particular story is about Bea, an 11-year-old sent to America during the bombings in London. She assimilates into an American family with two sons during the war years, only to be wrenched away at the end of the war.
Her time in America forever changes Bea, and she struggles to reconnect to her home country and her family. As she grows up, her American family is never far from her heart. I loved to see how she merged her two families over the course of her life. While often sad at times, it was truly a lovely tale and a perfect pick for our summer reads 2023 post.
Wow. This is one of those rare books that really has it all. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award and definitely lives up to its hype. It is a beautifully written, powerful, and poignant family saga about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in the 1980s and its aftermath 30 years later.
Yale Tishman is the development director of an art gallery who is about to bring in an extraordinary collection of art from the 1920s. He has just lost his friend Nico and is losing friends all around him. Fast forward to 2015 when Nico’s little sister is in Paris searching for her daughter who disappeared with a cult three years earlier. I cannot say enough about this book.
A family saga told about 3 generations of soft-drinks heirs that had heart and glamour. I loved learning about the rise and fall of the Panola Cola company and the dynasty it produced. It’s hard to choose a favorite Forster but it was probably Harold’s tale that I liked the most, followed closely by Ramsey. I loved the made-up family interacting with real-world figures. I just really enjoyed this read. It would be great for the beach.
Lombardo’s debut is a tremendous book about the complicated dynamics and hidden secrets of the Sorenson parents and their 4 daughters.
The story is told alternately in the present day when Jonah reunites with the daughter that gave him up 15 years prior, and the past touches on moments in the Sorenson family history that are coming back to haunt them.
Each character is deliciously flawed in a way that makes you feel like you’ve known them for years. I love that at the heart of the story, the book is about the many forms of love and how to live well. I cannot believe that Claire Lombardo is not a 50 or 60-year-old woman with children of her own.
What a wonderful read. I truly can’t explain how much this book swept me away to Haven Point as I learned about four generations of the Demarest family.
This story focuses on the great-grandmother, grandmother (Maren), mother, and daughter (Skye) as they spend their summers in the waspy coastal town. Secrets unfold, loves bloom and fade, and the ties that bond are explored.
A wonderful beach read with heart, I hope you take a chance and get swept away too.
Family Sagas Set in Africa and Asia
This contemporary fiction book tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze who are young and in love when they leave war-torn Nigeria. Ifemelu comes to the United States and despite plans to follow her, Obinze cannot come to post-9/11 America.
The saga takes place over a 15-year period when Ifemelu and Obinze are reunited in Nigeria. It is intense and deeply emotional. I read this book with a very heavy heart as it seemed like tragedy after tragedy befell these two individuals. This is one of our books about Africa that you must read.
However, with that said, this book is amazingly written and a true work of art. If you are looking for one of the best book club books, this would be your choice.
I do not know why I hesitated to read this family saga book. But I am glad that I waited so I could appreciate every nuance that this book has to offer.
This book is the story of Ana. A woman ahead of her time, Ana is a scribe and can speak many languages. She is also the fictional wife of Jesus Christ and a sister to Judas.
The writing and the storytelling of this book are beautiful and epic. It is a must-read for any historical fiction lover.
This is another book from Oprah’s original book club that is stayed with me over the years. This is the story of one family’s three decades in the Congo.
Oprah chooses books that are emotional and well-written and this family saga is no exception. Nathan Price is an evangelical Baptist who takes his family on a mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. The novel takes place during the Congo’s fight for independence. This epic family saga is told by Nathan’s Wife and four daughters.
A Fine Balance is an epic and heartbreaking family saga of life in India. It’s a story of love and friendship in an unnamed city in 1975.
Lovers come together and are ripped apart in this memorable book about poverty and its impact. I read this book years before it was an Oprah Book Club pick but it is not a book that is easy to forget. It is heart-wrenching in every way and a literary feat. If you are looking for books that will emotionally wreck you, this one is not to be missed.
I read the Island of Sea Woman by Lisa See and was captivated from the first page. Lisa See’s last novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was absolutely brilliant and I felt the same way about this book.
This historical fiction tells the story of a friendship between two women on the Korean Island of Jeju. There, women work as a diving collective to provide for their families while men look after the children. It was interesting to read a story where some gender norms are reversed and others, like feeding women and children last, were still perpetuated.
Beyond the incredible history of this small island is the story of a remarkable friendship between Mi-ja and Young-sook over the decades. If you have not read this pick from friendship books, it should be next on your list. Lisa See has done it again with this remarkable family saga book – a best book of 2019 pick for us!
Family Saga Books Set in Europe
A young girl is abandoned on a ship headed to Australia. When she arrives, the only thing in her possession is a suitcase with some clothes and a book of fairy tales. The dock master and his wife adopt Nell and tell her the story of her arrival in Australia on her 21st birthday. She goes back to England on a quest to find her lost identity.
Unsuccessful, her granddaughter later takes up the search and tried to assemble the pieces of her grandmother’s mystery and unlock the secrets of her past.
Did you know that romances can be family sagas too? Much like the many Bridgerton siblings, Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster series is all about a large brood of Cynster siblings. Each book is about the love story of a different sibling and then eventually goes on to their children.
The first one is my favorite in the series as Devil has to woo Honoria after being found in a compromising position with her. If I recall, it involved hunkering down in a wooden shack during a storm where a couple out for a stroll found them the next day.
They need to marry, but Honoria wants none of that. Devil proceeds to attempt to convince her in some with some moves that live up to his name. These books are like Bridgerton with a different set of siblings.
Philippa Gregory is back with a new non-royal series, this one is actually a book about poverty in Renaissance England. Tidelands is set in 1648 in the midst of the English civil war. The king has been overthrown and the country is in turmoil, but in the marshlands of the South, the villagers are worried about survival.
Alinor is a healer whose services are both respected and feared. She carefully toes the line between a wise woman and a witch as she struggles to feed her family. One fateful night she decides to help a catholic priest to safety without realizing the danger this secret would bring to her family. Philippa Gregory books are epic and this one is a perfect book for fall.
If you love Outlander, The Mists of Avalon, or The Clan of the Cave Bear, then you will love this pick from royal reads. Set in Britain/ Scotland when Christianity is poised to become the religion of the country, a future queen who swore to the old ways is learning how to balance the needs of her people and her religion with the role she’s expected to play.
Meanwhile, her twin brother is training to be the man history knows as Merlin. The first in a new trilogy about Arthurian legend.
This book is a perfect pick for a list of books like A Discovery of Witches or a list of books like Outlander. If you love books set in Scotland, this book is a must-read.
Family Sagas that are Celebrity Book Club Picks
March 2023 Oprah Book Club Pick
I adored this family saga about the four Padavano sisters and the man that enters their family orbit. William Waters grew up in a house with indifferent parents, so he fell head over heels for Julia and then her family.
But William’s inner demons cause a rift between the sisters that shakes the family to its core and dramatically changes the dynamics between all the Padavanos. Told over decades, this story examines the ties that bind us to our family through the ebbs and flows of life.
As one of four children, this coming-of-age story really spoke to me. Napolitano does an incredible job of accurately depicting the individual sibling relationships with one another and the role each person plays within the larger family dynamic. It’s a tall order and a near-impossible challenge to nail the complexities of a big family, but Napolitano does it with aplomb.
It’s going to be one of the best books of 2023 without a doubt. It strikes a balance between creating moments for book club discussion but also being entertaining enough to be a beach read pick. It’s a book about sisters I’ll be recommending to everyone all year.
June 2021 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
Nina Riva is having her annual summer party which is famous for its epic scale and exclusivity. But this year, the party will end with devastation.
Nina and her siblings are famous children of one of the biggest rock stars of all time and they each have their secrets. Perfect for a list of books about music, right?
I have loved the last two books by Taylor Jenkins Reid so much that I often recommend them to friends for their universal appeal. I had high hopes for this family saga but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
I enjoyed the book but I felt that it was a little drawn out at times. Still, I loved Nina’s character and her ability to surf puts her on our list of books about women in sports!
Good Morning America Book Club December 2021 Pick
I DEVOURED this contemporary fiction story of a billionaire music mogul who releases her death announcement 2 days early so she can read her own end-of-life articles.
The best part was that during the snowstorm that trapped her family with her at the ski chalet, she neglected to tell them about her terminal illness and her harebrained scheme.
We get to see the impact the decision has on her family as well as get a look at her colorful life before her cancer diagnosis. This family saga book about motherhood was so compelling.
October 2019 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
Ann Patchett has done it again with this tale of sibling devotion. Danny and Maeve are victims of an abandoned mother and father who all but ignores them.
Danny narrates the coming-of-age story of their lives as it ties into The Dutch House – a storied mansion that their father purchased in Elkins Park. This home is the blessing and curse of their lives.
The sign of their father’s success and what ultimately breaks up their family. The siblings gather together on Thanksgiving in this emotional and complex family saga book that is a perfect fall book. It is on our best of 2019 list for sure.
A Read With Jenna Pick for February 2022
I absolutely loved this contemporary fiction which is a story about love, family, and acceptance. It captured me from the first page with the story and the writing.
When Eleanor Bennett dies, she leaves a voice recording for her two children Benny and Byron. She wants to tell them things about her life that she could not say when she was alive.
While listening to their mother’s story, Byron and Benny learn about their mother, their family, and themselves. They try to piece their relationship back together. The novel looks at everyone’s life in the present and in the past, but in its essence, is a book about motherhood.
There is a secondary character who is also a professional swimmer, making this a perfect story for our books about women in sports. If you are looking for books for book clubs, this is sure to be a winner.
Family Saga Series
I don’t know what took me so long to listen to this story. It was absolutely captivating and could not stop listening.
This dramatic story about 5 families before and during WWI was incredible. The way Follett has woven all their stories together was dynamic and mesmerizing. The story was a little more battle and politics-focused than most WWI books I have read, but I loved learning new historical information.
This is a story that would be EXCELLENT for the men in your life too. Now if only I could get my husband to read.
Jonathan Franzen is back with this incredible 70s book about a pastor and his family as they navigate who they are in the midst of the tumultuous of the era.
As each character questions their relationship with their family, with god, and with their community at large, they also turn inward and try to remain true to themselves.
The depth of the characters is meticulous, the plot had me flipping the pages (which at 500 or so is saying something.) I can’t recommend this story enough. It’s truly wonderful. If you love 70s historical fiction, this is a perfect pick from our list of books like Daisy Jones and the Six.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #1)
How do we love Outlander? We cannot count the ways. There is a reason this is one of my favorite books of all time.
This epic story begins in 1945 when Claire Randall and her husband take a second honeymoon to the Scottish Highlands to celebrate being reunited after the war. When Claire touches one of the standing stones, she is transported to 1743.
This is when the real story begins. In order to stay safe as an English woman in Scotland, she must depend on Jamie Frasier for protection. This book is definitely at the top of our list of best romance novels of all time but you will love it equally if you love historical fiction, magical realism, romance, or witches. This is one of the iconic and epic time travel romance books that has it all and is perfect for a list of books like A Discovery of Witches. It was easy to include this on the best fantasy books for adults as well.
Family Sagas Set in New York
What would you do if you knew the day that you were going to die? Would want to know? The four Gold children find out the information that will shape their lives in this amazing magical realism book.
Beautifully written, the Immortalists follows Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya through their lives. Ms. Benjamin does a superb job of creating different voices for each of these characters. They are so vivid and unique. This family saga book about grief is un-putdownable and stays with you long after you have finished reading the last page.
If you want to host an Immortalists book club, we have a post that will help you make it spectacular.
I want to scream from the rooftops about this family drama set over the course of the lives of the Oppenheimer family. The Oppenheimer triplets have been averse to each other since they were born. On the brink of escaping to the freedom of college, their parents decide to have a fourth child.
Soon secrets are unraveling, choices are called into question, and sibling rivalry reaches a crescendo. This character-driven story is truly marvelous. Perfect for fans of Ann Patchett and Clare Lombardo.
Did you find any family saga books to add to your to-read list?
If you love these family saga books, you’ll love these family dramas too.