vera panova

Five Best Books: Hope

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.

A Bookish Inheritance

I got the idea of doing this post from katieleigh’s blog cakes, tea and dreams. I saw her ‘Freshly Pressed’ post the heirloom books and thought why not do one for my blog? So, thanks to katieleigh for her wonderful post.

Lost Inheritance:

My maternal grandmother was a voracious reader. Unfortunately, I never got to know her. She passed away at a young age. She had a great collection of mysteries and plays (two of my favourite genres). After her death somehow all of her books were lost. I still lament the loss of those books I never got to know.

Love’s Inheritance:

My first Jane Austen was my mom’s copy of Pride and Prejudice. She had gotten it as a wedding gift from one of her cousins. I remember reading it at night during a thunder storm. I just couldn’t bear to put it down. My mom finally came into my room and had to tell me off because it was a school night! That copy of Pride and Prejudice now stands on my book shelf.

Unexpected Inheritance:


Surprisingly I got quite a few of my books from my non-reading family members. I spent many a summer holed up with a book in my paternal grandmother’s house. There I first picked up a raggedy copy of an unknown little book called Seryozha: Several Stories from the Life of a Very Small Boy by Vera Panova. It belonged to an aunt of mine. She had gotten it as a present and left it behind when she moved. I couldn’t hold back my tears after reading about the troubles of a boy my age. After I read it at least five times my grandmother gave it to me for keeps.


Plays Pleasant by G. B. Shaw, Time of Hope by C. P. Snow, The Blind Musician by Vladimir Korolenko and many more old college reading material that had been forgotten by everyone. All were rescued from a dusty attic and given to me by my dad who is not much of a ‘pleasure’ reader. Now they are well dusted and cherished as books should be.