Okay...read a blog post this morning that I couldn't resist responding to and after writing what I'll paste in below, thought it really could serve as a posting here too...
You can read the post here: http://slanderwoman.wordpress.com/2006/08/26
Ooh...love this post as much as I love the kind of days it describes. And books.
I admit I did read the Brothers Karamazov and it did captivate from time to time, but in between I persevered because it is a classic and I felt a sense of duty.
In the years between then and now, I've grown a bit more of a "reader's perogative" ... I sometimes choose not to finish books I start. That took some time. :)
My favourite "floosie novels" are a trilogy by Catherine Fox. I had to order them from Amazon.co.uk as they aren't in print on this side of the Atlantic. They're novels about a seminary in a Cambridge/Oxford - type town in England. But the characters are anything but 'typically' Christian. In fact, when I've recommended them to others, it usually includes a bit of a content warning...although I usually only recommend them to people I know won't be offended by a little bit of what I like to call 'reality'.
I think you'd like them. :)
I, too, love the Susan Howatch novels. And sometimes I'm known to read a Rosamunde Pilcher novel. They're usually about a cast of characters who are somewhat unattached at the beginning and all intertwined by the end.
My husband like Science Fiction/Fantasy and Historical Fiction, so I'm stretching my wings in that direction a bit. A couple of favourites so far have been Cordelia's Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold (one of many in a series, but my DH thought it most accessible and likely to please the likes of me) and Household Gods by Judith Tarr & Harry Turtledove (a historical fiction/fantasy where a modern single-parenting, career-minded woman wakes up in the body of a woman of similar situation in Roman times. It's funny and charming and really sucks you into her story...) In a similar vein, I just finished Lindsey Davis' A Place of Honour which explores a woman's journey from slave girl to freedwoman and really the love story between her and an 'unknown' man who winds up as Emporer of Rome....a bit of a historical kick.
Meanwhile, I'm re-reading Persuasion which is my favourite of the Austen stories.
I could go on, but I'll leave it at that for now as we're leaving in 20 minutes and I still have a towel on my head. :)