Good Reads: New Beginnings, Second Chances and Happy Endings

Serious books with weighty topics and moral lessons are often worthwhile reading, but that may not be what we need right now. Sometimes we just need a book with a happy ending
– and remember, not all books with happy endings are “fluff.” There are many wellwritten books with great stories and fully developed characters who have challenges that we all face at some time or other. Through these stories, there is a path to solving some of these problems – giving us second chances for a new beginning and a happy ending. And who says that books with happy endings can’t be good literature? After all, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen are known for their devotion to the happy ending.

“DEAR MRS. BIRD”
BY A.J. PEARCE
Set in London during World War II, Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. She answers a job advertisement but, after a misunderstanding, finds herself typing letters for an advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. The formidable Mrs. Bird makes it clear that letters with too much unpleasantness are to be ignored and thrown away. But Emmy decides to retrieve the heart-wrenching letters written by women in difficult relationships or by mothers who cannot bear to have their children evacuated. Having saved these letters from the trash, she then begins to secretly write a letter back to each of them. This book is funny and poignant and attests to the strength and reserve of women and the importance of friendship.

‘THE GIVER OF STARS”
BY JOJO MOYES
When Alice Wright from England marries handsome Bennett Van Cleve from America, she dreams of the glamour of New York City. Instead, she ends up in the backwoods of a small Kentucky town, living in her overbearing father-in-law’s house. Soon she is able to take a job delivering books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library. Based on the true history of the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, Moyes weaves a story of one woman’s escape from a loveless marriage to something that brings her joy, friendship, humanity and passion. Yes, one can have more than one second chance in life and love.

“VISIBLE EMPIRE”
BY HANNAH PITTARD
How can people find happiness after a plane crash that takes the lives of all aboard? Based on a true story from 1962 about a chartered plane carrying over 100 of Atlanta’s wealthy elite, the book looks at the family and friends at home who must figure out how to get past this horrible tragedy. To do this, they must find the forgiveness, compassion, love and grace to discover new beginnings.

“THE HATING GAME”
BY SALLY THORNE
What happens when you and your nemesis are up for the same promotion? SHE hates HIM because he seems so joyless and uptight, and HE is perplexed by HER quirkiness and Pollyanna ways. Well, they say opposites attract, but even if you do figure out what is going to happen, it’s a whole lot of fun along the way.

“LIFE AFTER LIFE”
BY KATE ATKINSON
Have you ever wished you could have a do-over? In Atkinson’s book, Ursula Todd gets one do-over after another. At the beginning of the story, she is born in 1910, but dies before her first breath. She is then born again later that night, and throughout her life, she has ever more chances to do it over and over again.

“THE GARDEN OF SMALL
BEGINNINGS”
BY ABBI WAXMAN
This is a delightful story about Lillian, a young widow with small children who is navigating life after the tragic loss of her husband. She is an illustrator for a publishing company, and when she is assigned to illustrate a gardening book, she must attend a gardening class. Over the next six weeks, she and the other members of the class bond. And Lillian particularly bonds with Edward, the class instructor.

Happy endings provide hope. They give us the courage to go on, even in these difficult times. They can be the place to lose ourselves for a while. They help us believe that challenges can be overcome, love can last, differences can be accepted, and good can triumph. And aren’t happy endings what we all seek?

Diane Parfitt can be reached at citycentergallerybooks@gmail.com.