Like all writers, I’m a reader too. When I need to recharge, or am low in spirit, books are a great comfort. Over the years I’ve recognized there are books I always turn to. They’re the ones on my keeper shelf, which follow me from place to place, and whose characters are like old friends.
At this time of year, when it feels as if winter’s grey skies and rain will never end, and my loved ones have been sneezing and coughing for weeks, I’ve dipped into my comfort reads more than usual.
The following are my top five, feel-good stories from authors old and new.
L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle (1926) – This gentle story about a drab spinster who escapes her domineering family to live her own life, and then finds love, always warms my heart. The bonus is the idyllic Muskoka setting in Ontario, Canada.
Benedict and Nancy Freedman, Mrs Mike (1947) – I found this book on a cousin’s bookshelf the summer I turned thirteen, and it’s been a firm favourite ever since. A Boston girl visits Alberta in 1907 for her health, and falls in love with a Canadian Mountie. Telling the story of a marriage after the happy-ever-after, it’s a touching reminder of how hardship can strengthen steadfast love.
Lavyrle Spencer, Small Town Girl (1997) – Like many readers, I was saddened when Spencer retired from writing. All her books are rich in emotion and Small Town Girl is no exception. A country music singer who won fame but missed out on love, finds everything she ever wanted back in her small Missouri hometown. Family and community, and love and commitment, are the cornerstones of this tender story – complete with a quiet hero who’s the kind of man a woman can count on.
Melissa Hill, The Charm Bracelet (2012) – I discovered this book at my local library and then bought my own copy. It’s a magical chronicle about the stories charm bracelets tell, with a mystery which leads the heroine on a quest around New York City at Christmas, and to find unexpected romance too. A delightful, modern-day fairy tale.
Anya Seton, Katherine (1954) – This historical novel about the love affair between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, captivated me from my first reading because of the strong characterization, and rich portrayal of life in fourteenth century England. A memorable heroine, and swoon-worthy hero, make this book the perfect rainy (or snowy) day escape.
What about you? Is there a book you recommend for dismal days?