If You Like….
So many thanks to Tracy Grant, who has broken the long If You Like drought here on the website! Tracy is the author of the Charles and Melanie/Malcolm and Suzanne Napoleonic-set mysteries, of which the latest, London Gambit, comes out this week.
Isn’t that a gorgeous cover?
And now over to Tracy, for If you like…Ensemble Series:
I’ve always loved series as both a reader and a writer. I love delving into a world and staying there. Perhaps for this reason, I particularly like “ensemble series” – series in which there may be a central character or couple but in which there is also a large cast of recurring characters. In my own series, I love writing the complicated marriage of former spies Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch, but I also love following the other characters. Harry and Cordelia Davenport, attempting to rebuild their own marriage; David Worsley and Simon Tanner, prevented by the time they live in from having an open relationship, though London Gambit finds them in effect raising children together; Addison and Blanca, Malcolm’s valet and Suzanne’s maid, who are spies themselves and have their own romantic thread; Lady Frances, Malcolm’s grand dame aunt, with her string of lovers and numerous children of varying parentage; Raoul O’Roarke, Suzanne’s former spymaster and Malcolm’s father, with complicated relationships with both of them, who may now be at the fragile beginning of a romance of his own with with the Rannoch children’s former governess, Laura Dudley. The end of London Gambit is a game changer that the shifts the board the series is played on and affects all these characters and their relationships with each other. As a writer, it left me simultaneously feeling a bit guilty for what I put my characters through and also very excited to explore where the various characters will go next.
If you like “ensemble series” you may like…
Lauren’s Pink Carnation series – one of the delights of this series for me was following the wonderful cast from book to book and seeing them and their inter-relationships grow and change. Even the relationships between couples who had seemingly already had a “happily ever after.”
Deborah Crobmie’s Duncan and Gemma series – I mentioned in another post recently that reading a new book in this wonderful mystery series set in present day London is like sitting down for a cup of tear sharing a pint in a favorite pub with an old friend. Duncan and Gemma are vibrant, wonderful characters but their friends, co-workers, and children also have ongoing story lines I am eager to pursue.
Winston Graham’s Poldark series – the central triangle of Ross, Demelza, and Elizabeth is fascinating, but the other characters, from miners to aristocrats, make for a richly textured portrait of late 18th/early19th century Cornwall that comes to vivid life in this series (and in the 1970s and current television adaptations).
C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr series – Sebastian has enough ongoing romantic and familial tensions of his own, but his friends, enemies (the most formidable of whom is also his father-in-law), servants, and family add wonderful complexity to the story. In this series, as in others, it’s fun meeting characters in the course of a stand-alone mystery and seeing them become part of the ongoing ensemble.
Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series – I loved Emily and Colin from the first, but I also love following the secondary characters, seeing who will come to the fore in which book, watching them grow and confront new challenges.
Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series – I found the first book in this series years ago on the “new” shelf at the library. It’s a fabulous mystery, but what had me eagerly scanning the lists for the next book was the already complicated relationships among the characters. It’s a harrowing journey at times, but in a way that only makes me all the more wager for the next installment in the series.
Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series – Julia’s family may at times drive Julia (and Brisbane) mad, but they add so much to this series, both in their interactions with the main characters and in their own story lines.
So many thanks to Tracy for this amazing list, which contains so many favorites old and new, historical and contemporary.
Which are your favorite ensemble series?
I imagine we could have a great deal of fun coming up with a companion list of ensemble TV series. Downton Abbey, anyone? Doc Martin, Grantchester, more Poldark….
Check back next Monday for more about London Gambit— and a give away!
This is where I found out about Tracy’s wonderful series – in an If you like… post. I began collecting the books and finally started reading them last April, and I am hooked. So excited to get my copy of London Gambit.
And of course, I wouldn’t have been on this site if I wasn’t already hooked on the Pink Carnation series.
I’m also deep into Sebastian St. CYR and waiting for a chance to begin Lady Emily – all thanks to your generosity, Lauren, in allowing your readers to share what they are reading.
My contributions to ensemble series:
Mary Balogh has several:
The last book in her Survivors Club series comes out tomorrow – all survivors of the Peninsular Wars trying to reclaim there lives after suffering various injuries.
The Slightly series – seven members of a family, each with their own story and of course the others appear throughout.
The Simply series – four books that also intertwine with the Slightly series. Simply Love is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read.
Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series – set in the 1960’s, Dr. Fingal O’Reilly welcomes young Dr. Barry Laverty into his practice where he meets the eccentric and humorouS reidents of Ballybucklebo, all of whom have various problems, both medical, personal, and community oriented in this ensemble cast. The novels even go back to O’Reilly’s time at University and his service during WWII.
Thanks again, Lauren, for the opportunity to discover new books and authors on your site.
And another plug for Tracy’s books – they are gripping, thrilling, and of course thoroughly engaging.
Thanks for the nice words, Betty, and for sharing your favorites! I love this feature, and also Lauren’s Weekly Reading Round Up, because I discover so many wonderful books and authors. It’s wonderful to hear you found my books through this site!
You forgot our favorites from Dorothy Dunnett – the Lymond Chronicles and the House of Niccolo. And I would add Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher Mysteries – lighter in tone but with a wonderful, quirky cast of characters. Series are really the most fun and you mentioned all the ones I love!
I am so looking forward to London Gambit! Of course, I love Malcolm and Suzanne, and I also really like Raoul and Laura. I get my best book recommendations from the Weekly Round Up and If You Like! I seriously wish I were a faster reader because there are so many books I want to read! The cover of London Gambit is fabulous! I think that this series has some of the most captivating covers!
I don’t know if Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series counts as an ensemble series, but it does for me and I love it!It involves one of the greatest book families ever and each of the eight siblings has a book.
I am also fond of Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflower series, which has a book for each of the four wallflower friends, and then a Christmas book they are part of.
Lady Julia and Lady Emily are also two of my favorite series. 🙂
I love the Wall flowers, Paige!
Thanks so much, Paige! There’s quite a bit of Laura and Raoul in London Gambit (I really enjoy writing them and their developing relationship), as well as Malcolm and Suzanne of course, so I hope you’ll be happy. I’ve been really fortunate with the covers – I’ll pass your nice words on to Natanya, who does them now. I think the Bridgerton books qualify – each book focuses on one couple, but the rest of the family play ongoing roles. I haven’t read the Wallflowers yet, but I think the same qualifies.
Lynne, I should have included the Lymond and Niccolo series – even though they have strong central characters, the supporting casts are very rich and do have their own stories. I need to check out the Miss Fisher mysteries – you’ve mentioned them before and they sound very fun!/
I was meh on the first Miss Fisher mystery but I adored the show. I’ve gone back and read some more of the books and they do improve after the first one.
I also love The Bridgertons & Sebastian St. Cyr.
Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books – Sookie is the main character but there are so many interesting secondary characters through out the books.
Gail Carrigers – The Parasol Protectorate and The Finishing School series.
The Winds of War & War and Remembrance Herman Wouk
North and South trilogy by John Jakes
The Sentinels of New Orleans series by Suzanne Johnson
Black Dagger Brotherhood J.R. Ward
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
The Spellman Files Lisa Lutz
Spindle Cove series by Tessa Dare
The Writing Girls series by Maya Rodale
Rick Riordan all his children’s fiction books
Great suggestions, Christina!
Elizabeth George’s Lynley and Havers series is shelved under mysteries, but the ongoing story of the characters is what makes it so fascinating. Several mystery writers do the same.
I agree, Sheila! Elizabeth George’s mystery plots are great,b ut it’s the ongoing story that makes me so eager for each new book.
The Amelia Peabody series by the late Elizabeth Peters! She has so many recurring characters – each unique and unforgettable. It was a sad day when Elizabeth Peters died. I would also add her Vicky Bliss series. I love Schmidt! (“The finest swordsman in all of Europe!” )
Such a wonderful series, Alice!