In this week’s 5 Best Books we are asked to list our Five Best Books: Hope.
This week’s Top 5 is a more positive spin on last week’s Top 5 (Recovering from) Tragedy. It may infringe a bit on last week’s list. But overall in these books tragedy is kept to a minimum, hope is the dominating feature.
1. Seryozha: Several Stories from the Life of a Very Small Boy by Vera Panova. –This is one of my childhood favourites. A fatherless boy, Seryozha, grows apart from his mother after her remarriage. But little Seryozha is warmly embraced by his step father, Korostelyov and it is he who refuses to abandon him just because he is not his biological child. I couldn’t hold back my tears after reading about the troubles of a boy my age. I understood Seryozha’s bewilderment at the changes in his life and his pain wringed my heart. Every time I read the book I was so grateful to Korostelyov for understanding the little boy and giving him the love and care that he deserved. The last page especially filled me with hope that everything was going to be alright.
2. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. – This is the story of four mothers and their daughters. The mothers try hard to maintain their Chinese heritage while the American born daughters fail to understand them. The lack of communication between the generations creates a deep chasm between them. I found the mother’s stories to be stories of hope. I was especially touched by Suyuan Woo’s story. Though there are many tragedies in their lives the four mothers and daughters ultimately find what they were looking for.
3. A Kiss for Cinderella by J. M. Barrie. – A Kiss for Cinderella is set during WWI. A poor and lonely young woman, ‘Miss Thing’, works as a maid and dreams that she is the fabled ‘Cinderella’. As the play progresses, ‘Miss Thing’ slowly becomes mentally unstable and nearly dies of hunger and cold. But in the end, the surly local policeman becomes her unlikely hero and even though the doctor makes a gloomy prediction about her health she does get her happy ending.
4. Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings by Charles Dickens.
Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy by Charles Dickens. –
Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings and Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy are two of Charles Dickens’s Christmas stories. The books describe a Mrs Lirriper’s experiences as a lodge keeper. Most of her experiences are light hearted and humorous. Sad events do take place (a young woman is ruined by a wicked impostor, a fire destroys a home; etc) but overall the tone of the books remain pretty hopeful. Everything turns out to be all right and even the misfortunes always leave behind a reason to smile.
5. Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther. – This book is a collection of little observations that the eponymous characters makes about trivial everyday matters. The time is during World War II so the tone of the book is subdued but Mrs. Miniver manages to remain practical and cheerful. The book is said to have helped gain sympathy for the people in Europe.