This month Estella’s Revenge, Girlxoxo, and Traveling with T are hosting a month of bookish – and sometimes not – favorites. Check out this intro post to learn more. Today it is five on a theme and I’ve chosen to talk about my favorite books with unreliable narrators.
The Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith
Talk about a mindbender! The reader is completely aware that Tom Ripley is a sociopathic serial killer but the way it is written makes the reader sympathize with Ripley. I found myself thinking, “oh you need to brutally murder that person who annoyed you.” Ripley’s self-absorbed, narcissistic narrative voice is so strong that even gnarly murders seem okay. This certainly the character that is not only unreliable, but he makes you not care that he is unreliable.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This one isn’t quite about an unreliable narrator, rather the reader can see how Esther Greenwood narrates her half-truths to others while she is battling mental illness. We’re all kinda “in” on her unreliable narrating of her life.
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Oh Em Gee what a ride. I really cannot say much with out completely spoiling the plot, but TRUST NO ONE.
Pretty much anything written by Shirley Jackson
I was going to go with my favorite, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but truly almost any book or story by Jackson is narrated by an unreliable narrator. Some times it is a criminal (Castle), some times it is madness (Hangsaman) and some times it is paranormal influence (Haunting of Hill House).
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Not all books with unreliable narrators are filled with nefarious plots. Lucy Snowe’s keeps her self closed off from the people in her life (a paltry few people) but she also keeps her secrets from the reader. She withholds information only informing the reader of what she told people and this heroine certainly guards her heart. The reader is left wandering who the real Lucy is and if anyone can really get to know her. I feel like this description doesn’t do her justice, think of her as a Jane Eyre who is a bit more cynical and private with her emotions.
I would love some unreliable narrator book recommendations. Throw ’em at me!