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What is the saddest book you have ever read?

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Showing 851-875 of 887 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2014 19:51:58 BDT
Yep, Birdsong is searingly awful. Wouldn't want to re-read it.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2014 19:53:10 BDT
Atonement is excellent, the conclusion of which affected me extremely emotionally.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2014 21:35:18 BDT
Tui Allen says:
Andy, I only saw the film but had the same response as you, even to that. An excellent sad story. I think what it managed to convey to me was that one young girl, who was very young when she made a small mistake, (with huge consequences beyond what she could have imagined) seemed to finish up taking on the blame for the evil of an entire world war, because of the timing of that one error.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2014 23:00:08 BDT
A Hesford says:
Ah, but it was not a mistake, was it? And she made no effort to put it right.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2014 23:15:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 May 2014 23:15:57 BDT
Tui Allen says:
Not as a confused (and frightened) child, but I thought the rest of her life was an effort to put it right. That's why it was called atonement.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2014 23:57:40 BDT
Paula says:
Sophie's Bakery for he broken hearted by Lolly Winston...

In reply to an earlier post on 8 May 2014 06:58:05 BDT
Particularly during the reading of the book, it is difficult not to blame her entirely as well. But what was she supposed to think, initially? Circumstantial evidence has ruined many a life.

Posted on 11 May 2014 17:26:41 BDT
caringman says:
Beware of pity-Stefan zweig.
The kite runner-Khalid hosseini.

Posted on 11 May 2014 21:12:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 May 2014 21:14:24 BDT
Tui Allen says:
The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition
Ann Frank's Diary is very sad. I've read many books about the holocaust and some of them were even sadder, but it's so long since I read them now, I can't remember their names.

Julie Thomas's quite recent book about the holocaust, The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel is not really a sad story overall, though it has some sad moments, but it's very interesting and gripping as it follows a precious violin that was looted from a Jewish family on Krystallnacht. It follows the violin, and the fortunes and misfortunes of the people surrounding it, from then until the present day. The story travels through Europe, USA and even my own country, New Zealand, where it was written.

Posted on 16 May 2014 10:28:40 BDT
Tui Allen says:
Not a book but a sad film. One of those sad and yet uplifting stories. I just purchased the DVD of Miss Potter. The story of children's author Beatrix Potter. Renee Zellweger as Beatrix. The landscapes make me want to go to England.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2014 18:58:58 BDT
meemeg 11 says:
The title says it all - I agree.

Posted on 30 May 2014 10:29:52 BDT
A fine balance by Rohinton Mistry

In reply to an earlier post on 30 May 2014 15:54:27 BDT
jc says:
Totally agree

Posted on 23 Jun 2014 20:47:21 BDT
schwartz says:
Completely agree with a lot of the suggestions i've seen here. Not sure if it has been mentioned already in this thread, but I've just finished reading Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics), which really seems to fit the bill. A novel of bleak reality, but comepletely compelling.

Posted on 28 Jun 2014 23:52:29 BDT
Thomas Hardy Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jun 2014 00:39:38 BDT
C. Rees says:
Or practically any Thomas Hardy story. I say story rather than novel as even the short stories are sad. Hardy didn't do 'happy every after'. However, they are all brilliant. I have read many of the major novels, and I'm currently reading 'Wessex Tales'. In that collection, 'The Withered Arm' is stunning, and guess what? It is also very sad, but the plot is amazing. Hardy is up there as one of the best English writers and all of his writing is still enjoyable today.

Posted on 29 Jun 2014 17:42:55 BDT
Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition - The Story of Shackleton's Polar Bound Cat by Caroline Alexander. Told from Mrs Chippy's point of view this is such a heartwarming book but the ending is so sad I was in tears.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jul 2014 10:19:01 BDT
Tui Allen says:
I think about Hardy a lot. I've spend a lot of time "in' England lately, in a way. We watch Escape to the Country, and Midsomer murders. That's because in both programmes I love seeing the quaint English homes and villages. Seeing those programmes is about as close as I'm ever likely to get to your part of the world, though my ancestors came from Yorkshire and Wales. When the "Escape" crew are in Hardy's parts of the country, they often mention him and you can just imagine his settings. I've read many of his books. Loved them all.

Posted on 8 Jul 2014 11:52:26 BDT
John Hare says:
I think I have just uploaded onto Amazon the saddest book you will ever read.

It is an end of civilisation as we know it saga in rhyme "O'Hare's Inferno'.

Unfortunately Amazon no longer allow new works to be published free of charge; however, as I would be loathed to profit from a dooms day scenario, The Inferno can now be viewed, read and downloaded for free from

Read it and speak.

Posted on 8 Jul 2014 23:30:26 BDT
Raf says:
Atonement, Birdsong, Schindler's Ark and Sophie's Choice.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jul 2014 23:41:26 BDT
Tui Allen says:
Here's a thought. I tried to think of a really sad children's book to list here, but nothing came immediately to mind. Can anyone come up with a sad children's story? Thinking. thinking. Surely they must be out there.

Posted on 8 Jul 2014 23:42:48 BDT
Tui Allen says:
The Lorax? It's a little sad, but I've never seen children cry when I've read it.

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 00:00:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jul 2014 00:03:35 BDT
Tui Allen says:
Ha! I've thought of one.
This is a story so sad, I rarely ever read it to the hundreds of classes of children I taught as I travelled from school to school in my years as a relief teacher. It's just too embarrassing to be standing there in front of the class with tears running down your face. It's one story in an anthology of stories by our most beloved of living New Zealand children's authors, Joy Cowley. The story is called "Beyond the River" and it's the first story in the eponymous anthology.

Unfortunately it's not an e-book yet but I'm personally taking on the job of trying to persuade the publishers to e-publish this great collection, without doubt the best collections of stories for teachers to read to their classes I've ever struck in my long career of teaching.

Not all the stories are so sad as the first one. There is another MAGICAL story about death in it, called "The Well." But that story is NOT sad - it is happy, even though the children lose their grandfather! It has trace elements of Maori culture.

But "Beyond the River" itself, is heartbreaking and very very beautiful. I have reviewed this book on Amazon, so you might like to read my review that describes how I used the book in classrooms.

Here it is in print. To all the teachers out there, if I were you I'd grab one to read to your class before they're all gone. This book is one of the world's best kept secrets.

Beyond The River

Posted on 11 Jul 2014 05:30:35 BDT
Brian Denton says:
The saddest book I ever read was 'Edna's Brood' which I began to write after reading my deceased mother's diary which gave an account of her early life as a newly married woman away from her home and family. As the eldest, born 1935, of four pre WW2 children followed by a brother in 1942, who died of meningitis at the age of ten months, a half sister born in 1945 and two post war brothers, I decided to write about it but found myself traumatised by the memory of it all. My parents and four of my siblings have since died and I do not have the courage to continue the story. C'est la vie.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jul 2014 06:21:56 BDT
Tui Allen says:
That sounds like quite a story. Also sounds like a very important one. Perhaps you could pass the diary on to someone else so the account is not lost when you yourself go. I agree it is very very hard to write sad sections. It can be traumatising as you say, but those are always the sections that make the best reading, as they tend to give the meaning to the rest of the book. Are you sure you don't want to give it another go? It can be very rewarding once you've got it done, in that you get an incredible sense of achievement.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
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Initial post:  17 Sep 2009
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