Looking for recommendations for novels told from different character’s points of view, even better if we get different views on the same events. Basically novels that get inside character’s heads.
Like we see a scene from a very religious characters POV and they talk about how holy and selfless it is, then from a warrior character and he describes how pathetic and un-macho it is. If that makes sense.
If you like history, Ian Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost is superb. Same story told four times … but each time you get more information about what’s going on. Each narrator makes perfect sense … until you get to the next one.
Now Playing at Canterbury by Vance Bourjaily. In which a rich Midwestern state university inaugurates its new performance hall by producing an original opera, with libretto & music by faculty members. Faculty, students, townies & some stars from outside (singing, directing, conducting) get together to Put On A Show. And interrelate, in various ways.
“Canterbury”? Everybody is very busy, but there’s enough downtime in each chapter for a different character to tell a story. The stories vary widely in style & content: straightforward narrative, comic strip (we only see the words–Murasaki, the conductor, explains his family’s experience with internment & worse tragedy), heroic couplets (the epic struggles of a grad student’s wife), childish fable & raunchy graphic sex.
Set in the 1970’s, with memories of protest & a trip to Vietnam included. Would make a tremendous miniseries, with a different star director for every “tale.” Eat it, BBC–this is America. Too bad it’ll never be made…
TV Tropes has a huge list of Rashomon Style Books.
Lovers at the Chameleon Club 1932 is one I just read recently. Not perfectly executed but quite good.
The most obvious recent example is the A Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin. (You know, the “Game of Thrones” ones.)
They employ a constantly shifting cast of POV characters (a different one each chapter), and as the series has plodded along, characters who were decidedly unsympathetic in the early books have become POV characters in later ones, and it’s been interesting to see things from the perspective of the Cersei Lannisters of the world.
Yes, George R. R. Martin does a particularly good job with the multiple viewpoints thing, especially in books 2 and 3 of the series. The reader will know things that the current POV character doesn’t, for example. It makes for fun reading.
The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner. In my opinion the use of the requested technique in this book has never yet been bettered.
Heinlein’s Number of the Beast trades the viewpoint around between characters, but it’s pretty widely reviled as unreadable drek.
Sturgeon’s Godbody did much the same thing, but shorter and very deliberately.
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale was one of the first and still the best novel I read with multiple points of view. Also, recently I’m going through the Gillian Flynn catalog and I think Dark Places does it very well.
IIRC, The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder fits the bill.
While he doesn’t often show the same events from multiple angles, many (most?) of Harry Turtledove’s alternate history books tend to have a group of characters and then jump from person to person as the story progresses.
As I Lay Dying by Faulkner also.
The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell is surely the classic of the novel told from multiple points of view. It is actually a sequence of four books, the first three of which recount more or less the same events from very different points of view. The fourth is a sort of sequel or aftermath, set later, but also giving a retrospective view of the original events.
A lot of people who read this seem to read the first volume, Justine, and then give up, but, in fact, if you are only going to read just one, you should probably read the third volume, Mountolive, which recounts the events from an “omniscient narrator” perspective (and adds a lot of wider context too), although with a very different focus than those of the first two volumes. It is a much more straightforward read. (Clea, the last volume, is also fairly straightforward, but a bit pointless if you haven’t read what comes before.) Justine is entirely (or almost entirely) told from a single character’s rather blinkered point of view, and Balthazar, the second volume, is from multiple other fragmented perspectives.
Another classic of multiple narrators and perspectives is The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, sometimes said to be the very first real detective story. Here, though, the different narrators mostly tell sequential bits of the story, rather than the same bit from different perspectives (although there is some of the latter, and the final solution to the mystery sort of depends on different people’s perspectives coming together).
Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth.
My favorite is prolly Robert Silverberg’s The Book of Skulls. Each chapter is narrated by one of the four main characters, all of whom are very different in abilities, knowledge and temparement.
There’s Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, told from the points of view of three very different sisters and their mother.
I’ve not read it myself, but I’ve heard of Sometimes a Great Notion
From what I understand, it’s written in first person POV of multiple characters, and keeps switching between who is speaking.