100 books like The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations

By Charlotte Mary Yonge,

Here are 100 books that The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations fans have personally recommended if you like The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England

Jonatha Ceely Author Of Mina

From my list on understanding women in 19th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some years ago, I believed that after I had read the “famous” 19th-century novelists Jane Austen at the beginning of the century, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens more or less in the middle, and Henry James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton at the end, I had “done” the century and was disappointed that there was no more of worth to entertain me. Wrong, of course. Maria Edgeworth (Anglo-Irish) was a revelation; Catherine Maria Sedgewick (American) opened my eyes to New England; Margaret Oliphant (Scottish) combined the “weird,” spiritual, and a ruthless realism about family dysfunction. So I'm still reading. The 19th-century novels of Great Britain and America are an avocation and a passion.

Jonatha's book list on understanding women in 19th century England

Jonatha Ceely Why did Jonatha love this book?

Curious about the century that produced works as varied as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Bleak House? This is the book for you! Because it is organized by topics—money and social precedence to begin and the workhouse and death to end—it is easy to dip in and out of. It has added greatly to my understanding of 19th-century fiction. The invaluable glossary at the end lists terms that are strange to us in the 21st century and gives clear brief definitions. Now I know that loo was not an English euphemism for a toilet and that a ha-ha was not a joke! 

By Daniel Pool,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "delightful reader's companion" (The New York Times) to the great nineteenth-century British novels of Austen, Dickens, Trollope, the Brontes, and more, this lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules and customs that governed life in Victorian England.

For anyone who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell "Tally Ho!" at a fox hunt, or how one landed in "debtor's prison," this book serves as an indispensable historical and literary resource. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the "plums" in Christmas plum pudding were actually raisins?) on the…


Book cover of Hester

Katie Lumsden Author Of The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

From my list on surprisingly feminist Victorian.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Victorian literature after reading Jane Eyre when I was thirteen years old. Since then, I’ve worked my way through Victorian book after Victorian book, and my own novel, The Secrets of Hartwood Hall, is a love letter to Victorian fiction. One of my key interests within Victorian literature has always been its exploration of gender and gender roles. There are so many fantastic Victorian proto-feminist novels, and while some are still remembered and read, many more have been largely forgotten. These are just a few of my favourite proto-feminist Victorian novels, all of which are very underrated and very much worth a read!

Katie's book list on surprisingly feminist Victorian

Katie Lumsden Why did Katie love this book?

Hester, which came out in 1883, follows two central figures: Miss Catherine, an older woman who runs a bank – in itself quite a surprise to find in a Victorian novel – and Hester, her young relation, who is bored with her dull, ladylike life and wants something more.

What she really wants is to work, as Catherine does, but Catherine is determined that the bank will pass to a man. The novel focuses on their strained relationship – strained partly because they are so very alike. There’s so much I love about Hester, but I especially enjoy how it undermines and undercuts Victorian tropes about the novel and what is and isn’t a happy ending for a female character. It’s an absolutely fascinating read.

By Margaret Oliphant,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hester as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Margaret Oliphant is one of the great Victorian novelists and "Hester" is a masterpiece of psychological realism published in 1883. 
In exploring the difficulty of understanding human nature, it is also a compulsive story of financial and sexual risk-taking that inevitably results in a searing climax.

"Hester" tells the story of the ageing but powerful Catherine Vernon, and her conflict with the young and determined Hester, whose growing attachment to Edward, Catherine's favourite, spells disaster for all concerned.

Catherine Vernon, jilted in her youth, has risen to power in a man's world as head of the family bank. She thinks…


Book cover of A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846

Jonatha Ceely Author Of Mina

From my list on understanding women in 19th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some years ago, I believed that after I had read the “famous” 19th-century novelists Jane Austen at the beginning of the century, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens more or less in the middle, and Henry James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton at the end, I had “done” the century and was disappointed that there was no more of worth to entertain me. Wrong, of course. Maria Edgeworth (Anglo-Irish) was a revelation; Catherine Maria Sedgewick (American) opened my eyes to New England; Margaret Oliphant (Scottish) combined the “weird,” spiritual, and a ruthless realism about family dysfunction. So I'm still reading. The 19th-century novels of Great Britain and America are an avocation and a passion.

Jonatha's book list on understanding women in 19th century England

Jonatha Ceely Why did Jonatha love this book?

There is something magical about this book. It’s a brilliant piece of research and a touching evocation of a particular summer when, among other things, the poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett were secretly planning their elopement, Tennyson was planning a walking tour in Switzerland that included a visit to Charles Dickens, P. T. Barnum was touring with “General Tom Thumb,” and the artist Benjamin Haydon was approaching suicide. I was bowled over by the richness of lives lived packed into just two hundred pages.

By Alethea Hayter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Sultry Month as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wine and dine with Victorian London's literati in a heatwave in one of the first ever group biographies, introduced by Francesca Wade (author of Square Haunting).

Though she loved the heat she could do nothing but lie on the sofa and drink lemonade and read Monte Cristo .

'Never bettered.' Guardian
'Brilliant.' Julian Barnes
'Wholly original.' Craig Brown
'A pathfinder.' Richard Holmes
'Extraordinary.' Penelope Lively

June 1846. As London swelters in a heatwave - sunstroke strikes, meat rots, ice is coveted - a glamorous coterie of writers and artists spend their summer wining, dining and opining.

With the ringletted 'face…


Book cover of The Famine Ships: The Irish Exodus to America

Jonatha Ceely Author Of Mina

From my list on understanding women in 19th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some years ago, I believed that after I had read the “famous” 19th-century novelists Jane Austen at the beginning of the century, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens more or less in the middle, and Henry James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton at the end, I had “done” the century and was disappointed that there was no more of worth to entertain me. Wrong, of course. Maria Edgeworth (Anglo-Irish) was a revelation; Catherine Maria Sedgewick (American) opened my eyes to New England; Margaret Oliphant (Scottish) combined the “weird,” spiritual, and a ruthless realism about family dysfunction. So I'm still reading. The 19th-century novels of Great Britain and America are an avocation and a passion.

Jonatha's book list on understanding women in 19th century England

Jonatha Ceely Why did Jonatha love this book?

I love primary sources and histories that reproduce them. Here is another amazing feat of historical detection. “Details have been taken from eye-witness accounts; original Certificates of Registration, paintings, and contemporary lithograph drawings have been reproduced,” may sound dry but this book is alive with the voices of immigrants telling both tragic and triumphant tales. Anyone whose Irish ancestors came to North America between 1846 and 1851 will want to examine the numerous passenger lists that Laxton includes. I think of this book and all it taught me when I visit my hometown and stop by the monument commemorating Irish immigrants on the shore of Lake Ontario.

By Edward Laxton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Famine Ships as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1846 and 1851, more than one-million people--the potato famine emigrants--sailed from Ireland to America. Now, 150 years later, The Famine Ships tells of the courage and determination of those who crossed the Atlantic in leaky, overcrowded sailing ships and made new lives for themselves, among them the child Henry Ford and the twenty-six-year-old Patrick Kennedy, great-grandfather of John F. Kennedy. Edward Laxton conducted five years of research in Ireland and interviewed the emigrants' descents in the U.S. Portraits of people, ships, and towns, as well as facsimile passenger lists and tickets, are among the fascinating memorabilia in The Famine…


Book cover of The Beginners

Cordelia Schmidt-Hellerau Author Of Memento: A Novel in Dreams, Thoughts, and Images

From my list on literary fiction about what goes on in a person's mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a psychoanalyst and a writer. I'm fascinated with the thoughts, feelings, dreams, and fantasies that make up our inner worlds, and I love how the beauty of language can reach beyond what ordinary experience seems to suggest. My novels take place in the minds of their protagonists; I look through their eyes and follow the ideas, memories, and hopes that guide their lives. I enjoy their idiosyncrasies, allow them to be weird, vulnerable, and volatile, and I think of them as lovable and in times of adversity as brave as any human being can be.

Cordelia's book list on literary fiction about what goes on in a person's mind

Cordelia Schmidt-Hellerau Why did Cordelia love this book?

In the first sentence of this novel Anna Lore falls madly in love with a man she happens to run into on the street of her hometown.

Even though she only vaguely recognizes him as they strike up a brief conversation, she becomes so obsessed with him that she is willing to give up everything for him, including her marriage of twenty years with a loving and reliable husband who she loves too.

Reading this novel, I was fascinated with Anna Lore's struggle to understand what's driving her towards a man, who almost against his will has such irresistable power over her. To follow her thinking as it makes her crazy infatuation appear reasonable and compelling is a fascinating experience of the uncanny nature of the unconscious.

By Anne Serre, Mark Hutchinson (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Beginners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anna has been living happily for twenty years with loving, sturdy, outgoing Guillaume when she suddenly (truly at first sight) falls in love with Thomas. Intelligent and handsome, but apparently scarred by a terrible early emotional wound, he reminds Anna of Jude the Obscure. Adrift and lovelorn, she tries unsuccessfully to fend off her attraction, torn between the two men. "How strange it is to leave someone you love for someone you love. You cross a footbridge that has no name, that's not named in any poem. No, nowhere is a name given to this bridge, and that is why…


Book cover of Titanic: Minute By Minute

Carla Louise Robinson Author Of The Light In The Darkness Book One

From my list on the Titanic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a bibliophile who loves dogs and prefers the country to the city. I’m the kid who yelled at my kindergarten teacher because she hadn’t taught me to read by the end of the year. That same tenacity followed me when, at seven years old, I learned that James Cameron was making a movie based on the Titanic. With righteous fury, I yelled at my befuddled parents, before asking why they had not told me about this ship. I pleaded with my parents to take me to see the movie for my upcoming eighth birthday, and they relented, with my mum buying my first fictional Titanic novel. That’s how my Titanic obsession began.

Carla's book list on the Titanic

Carla Louise Robinson Why did Carla love this book?

I can’t tell you how many times I consulted Jonathan Mayo’s Titanic: Minute By Minute book, checking that the Titanic’s timeline fit in with what my characters were doing at any given time. It’s non-fiction, and it’s nail-bitingly intense. The book is written in present tense, giving you a sense of urgency as Mayo tells you where everyone is, and what is happening at varying parts of the ship at that exact moment. It helps ground you in reality: The truth was, many of Titanic’s crew and passengers didn’t know the ship was sinking. And many of those who did genuinely believed another ship would arrive long before anything serious could actually happen. Mayo uses both accounts from passengers who survived the sinking, as well as the crew member’s testimony from the British and American Titanic inquiries. 

If you’ve ever wanted to know exactly what happened the night…

By Jonathan Mayo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Titanic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2.20am on 15th April 1912, the Titanic is plunging 12,000 feet to the ocean floor.

Machinery, coal, crystal goblets, pianos and jewellery all tumbled through the dark water. Hundreds of passengers and crew remained trapped below decks - hundreds more would perish on the surface.

This is the definitive chronology of the Titanic's final hours, offering readers a real-time experience of one of the greatest dramas of twentieth century history.


Book cover of The Prince of Eden

Carrie Dalby Author Of Perilous Confessions

From my list on for historical gothic family saga fans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the feelings stories can evoke in readers since I cried over Bridge to Terabithia in middle school. From the time I was twelve, I’ve sought snapshots in time that ooze with a strong sense of place and flawed characters to capture my heart when reading. I’ve found well-researched historic Gothic family sagas to be the most consistent in delivering that raw emotional bond between the setting/characters and reader. As a writer, I strive to recreate what I crave when reading. The historic Gothic family sagas I’ve chosen represent an array of characters you will love—or love to hate—and cry over.

Carrie's book list on for historical gothic family saga fans

Carrie Dalby Why did Carrie love this book?

The seven-book saga featuring the Eden family by Marilyn Harris is an amazing read, but I found The Prince of Eden to be the most moving. Not only is Edward Eden the most likable (though still questionable) of the men in the family, the book sheds light on an era of British history I wasn’t very familiar with, the 1830s-50s. I became a spectator of the social unrest, opium dens, and more within these pages. The fictional characters move alongside historical people and events, leaving their own footprints in the world of possibility within this emotional read.

By Marilyn Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prince of Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Young Edward Eden, maverick and social reformer who befriends the lowly of London, greatly disturbs his family by selling off parts of the Eden estate to help his friends and by seeking comfort for his personal sorrow in opium


Book cover of A Little SPOT of Courage: A Story About Being Brave

Tasha Eizinger Author Of The Little Shot: Courage

From my list on how to live courageously.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I can remember, I have observed people. I was curious about why people are the way they are, and why do some people have fulfilling lives while others don’t. Something I have learned over the years is meaningful actions require courage first. This world certainly needs people who will live courageously in their day-to-day lives by being authentic, speaking up, being kind, lending a hand, and becoming the best versions of ourselves. When we set the example, it gives others hope that they can also be courageous. I hope you choose to live courageously!

Tasha's book list on how to live courageously

Tasha Eizinger Why did Tasha love this book?

I like the practical, straightforward explanations of courage in this book! Kids can realize ways they are already courageous and expand on them. 

The courage cards throughout the story remind me of something I did during a low point in my life. I wrote down examples to prove to myself that I am enough.

Writing down what we have done well helps connect our thoughts and our heart. I believe it helps boost our self-esteem when we have practical examples of things we have done well. You could do courage cards like the story or any type of card that boosts your morale.

By Diane Alber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Little SPOT of Courage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is courage? You might think of super hero when you hear COURAGE, but all of us can do small and big acts of COURAGE everyday! A Little SPOT of Courage will show you some ways you can grow your COURAGE SPOT From trying out for a basketball team to helping someone when they are being treated unkind too much more!


Book cover of The Accidental Time Machine

Don Kinney Author Of The Darkdrift

From my list on sci-fi for newbies, from a newbie sci-fi writer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by science and space since I was a child and naturally gravitated toward science fiction. In many respects, it was a form of escapism, as I didn’t enjoy school. I always preferred escaping into another world or being taken on a journey to another world. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that most great science fiction is a commentary on our own world and the issues we face daily. Science fiction, more than any other genre, does a better job of exploring and dissecting aspects of our world, which in turn helps us better understand our world and our relationship with it.

Don's book list on sci-fi for newbies, from a newbie sci-fi writer

Don Kinney Why did Don love this book?

The Accidental Time Machine is one of the few novels that I’ve read beginning to end in one sitting because I found it so interesting. This isn’t the type of novel that will change your life or change how you feel about something. It’s just good. A good, fun book that can be read in a couple of hours. Haldeman doesn’t waste any time getting the story going and from there he takes you on a ride more enjoyable than novels twice the length.

By Joe Haldeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Accidental Time Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW IN PAPERBACK-FROM THE AUTHOR OF MARSBOUND

Grad- school dropout Matt Fuller is toiling as a lowly research assistant at MIT when he inadvertently creates a time machine. With a dead-end job and a girlfriend who left him for another man, Matt has nothing to lose in taking a time-machine trip himself-or so he thinks.


Book cover of Cwen

Una Mccormack Author Of Star Trek: Picard: Second Self

From my list on speculative fiction crackling with feminist themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science fiction writer who loves my chosen genre for the promises it makes for the worlds that we can have—and the warnings that it offers for the worlds that might be ours if we don’t take care. I’ve picked books for people who like their thinking to be challenged, and who also long for the world to be a much better place. These are the kinds of books I love to readand the kinds of books I try to write. 

Una's book list on speculative fiction crackling with feminist themes

Una Mccormack Why did Una love this book?

Imagine an island off the coast of Britain, where a miracle has happened. A community run entirely by womenbusinesses, education, government. But now disaster has struckthe founder, Eva Levi, has disappeared, and forces are gathering that want to dismantle her life’s work. But someone else is watching, someone who has been there longer than anyone can remember, and Cwen will not let any harm come to the people of her islands… A subtle and intelligent novel, inclusive and wise. 

By Alice Albinia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cwen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Fantastic - a wonderful book' Lily Cole
'Magical, rich and magnificent' Maxine Peake
'A wild ride! She sees Graves' White Goddess and raises 50 with female magic and transformations' Margaret Atwood
'A rare book, bold and powerful' Xiaolu Guo
'Wild, original...a beautiful work' Neel Mukherjee

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL FICTION 2022
NOMINATED FOR THE OTHERWISE AWARD 2022

A storm, a disappearance, a band of women and a remote island where anything is possible.

On an unnamed archipelago off the east coast of Britain, Eva Levi has made it her life's work to build a community truly run…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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