In her reader Facebook group, The Petal Garden, author friend Rosey Lee posts uplifting, feel-good content that brightens my day and makes me think too.

One of Rosey’s recent posts led me to reflect about life lessons and I realized many of mine have come from reading fiction.

Romantic fiction, women’s fiction and second chances in life and love

I began reading romance as a teenager and in the decades since, romantic fiction has given me hope, encouragement and a firm belief that second chances are always possible.

In romance, as well as women’s fiction, female characters find the courage to change their lives and learn to listen to those inner voices telling them that they—and their dreams—are valid.

In such books, protagonists don’t only find love, they find themselves too, and and fulfilment in many parts of their lives in inspiring and celebratory ways.

Childhood reading

Since I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading or being read to, my first life lessons came from children’s books.

Anne of Green Gables taught me about resilience and standing up to bullies (the name Josie Pye still makes me shudder).

In Little Women, I absorbed lessons about female independence, kindness and forgiveness.

Nancy Drew taught me about bravery, trusting my intuition and being open to adventure.

Charlotte’s Web helped me look for unexpected friendships, and in Ballet Shoes I learned how success in any pursuit requires hard work, perseverance and trying again after setbacks.

Historical fiction and time travel

As a reader, I love escaping into past worlds both real and imaginary, and particularly enjoy the new perspectives that come from travelling through time.

A recent read, Secrets of the Mist by Kate Ryder, juxtaposes contemporary British life with glimpses of the seventeenth century and English Civil War.

As I raced through the story, so absorbed I lost track of what was going on around me, I was reminded that vestiges of the past are all around us and present-day life—and certain people and places—aren’t always as they may first seem.

Some of the most important lessons of all

Once in a while, I find a special book filled with nuggets of life wisdom which resonate in more profound ways.

How the Penguins Saved Veronica (Away With the Penguins in the UK) by Hazel Prior is the heartwarming story of an eighty-something Scottish woman, the grandson she discovers late in life, and the Antarctic penguins that change both their lives.

Amongst many life lessons is this one:

“There are three types of people in this world…There are those who make the world worse, those who make no difference and those who make the world better. Be the one who makes the world better…if you can.”

More information & book links


  1. Rosey Lee

    Great post, Jen! Thank you for mentioning my Facebook Group. I love hearing that you connected with one of my posts in such a meaningful way. To borrow from the quote you shared from How the Penguins Saved Veronica, I’m just trying to make the world better whenever I can. That’s something you and I have in common. 🙂

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Rosey. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog post. Your Facebook group is always a place of joy and I find it both uplifting and thought provoking.

      I’m honoured that you think I too try ‘to make the world better.’ Thanks for saying that.

      ‘How the Penguins Saved Veronica’ is filled with wisdom’ but that particular one really resonated with me.

  2. Deb

    Romance novels are a great place to showcase life’s lessons. As an author and reader of romance, I know every book I read teaches me valuable lessons. And having read your books, Jen, I know you are terrific at taking your characters through a journey of discovery and enlightenment as they live out their own life’s lessons. Just stopped by AMZ and grabbed one of Rosey’s books with short stories. Can’t wait to read it. I enjoy writing short and need to get back to doing more of that.

    • Rosey Lee

      “A journey of discovery and enlightenment” is a great way to describe Jen’s approach to character development. And thanks so much for your interest in my stories! I hope you enjoy them.

      • Jen Gilroy

        I appreciate how Deb described that character “journey” too, Rosey. I’d never thought of it that way but it’s indeed what I strive to do.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Deb. It means a great deal to me that as a reader you appreciate the journeys I give my fictional characters. I hope you enjoy Rosey’s stories too. Happy writing and reading!


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