Suellen Dainty on Her Favorite Domestic Dramas

Suellen Dainty on Her Favorite Domestic Dramas

Domestic dramas make the ordinary into something extraordinary. Set at home, these dramas elevate family life and relationships in amazing ways. Suellen Dainty knows a thing or two about this, as her new novel The Housekeeper takes on the experiences of a housekeeper working for her favorite celebrity. Here, Dainty shares her five favorite domestic dramas.

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A Spool of Blue Thread

I always read Anne Tyler with an equal mixture of awe for her skill and enjoyment of the characters she creates. A Spool of Blue Thread tells the story of Abby and Red Whitshank, their children, and their marriage. This one will make you laugh and weep in equal measure. On every page, I marvel at what John Updike calls “her beautifully shaped sketches.” She says this one is her last book.  Let’s hope she reconsiders.

Our Souls at Night

This is another last novel, written when Kent Haruf was dying. His story of Addie and Louis and their tentative brave steps toward happiness after both their spouses have died is spare but brilliant, with not one false word. Like his previous novels, it’s set in Holt, Colorado. I love how he flawlessly moves his story between two houses within walking distance of each other.


I couldn’t put this one down. It’s a wonderful story, spanning five decades of messy family life that never once loses track of where it’s going. With 10 characters, it’s a remarkable achievement. There’s a wonderfully funny section set in the Hamptons, when Franny Keating tries to cater to the many culinary whims of her much older lover’s houseguests. I dare you not to laugh out loud.


Look at Me

An incisive, heart-breaking depiction of a lonely and isolated librarian who falls in love with a vibrant and glamorous couple who live in a small messy flat off the King’s Road in London.  She can’t believe her luck when they invite her into their life, but it all goes horribly wrong.  It’s a memorable novel of quiet sadness about our universal desire to belong somewhere.

Little Women

I first read this when I was about 10, and I’m still happy to delve into it again. I’ve also watched at least three film adaptations. I admired and liked Meg, Amy, and Beth, but always had the biggest girl crush on Jo. She was so feisty and strong, a great role model even now.  It’s hard to imagine that Louisa May Alcott thought the entire story was boring!

Honorable Mentions:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Suellen Dainty is a journalist turned B&B owner turned author of the novel After Everything. Her sophomore suspense novel, The Housekeeper (Atria; February 28, 2017) follows Anne Morgan as she starts her new job as a housekeeper for her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart). On the outside Emma and her family are picture perfect, but Anne quickly learns that everyone has a secret to hide. Find out more at


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