Pretty much anything by Thomas Hardy.
Mme Bovary by Flaubert, or the (excellent) graphic version by Posy Simmonds, Gemma Bovery.
Historical - maybe A place of greater safety by Hilary Mantel (or maybe not - on the one hand, pretty much everyone dies in the end, but on the other hand, it's very, very funny on the way)
As you're into sci-fi, perhaps you could suggest some of the more dystopian novels? 1984? TThe Handmaid's Tale?