8 uplifting reads

If you are looking for something cheering to read, then let me help. While my preference tends towards the darker side of fiction, I also like to read books that are more upbeat. A few years back I put together a list entitled 5 uplifting reads, but here’s some more that you might like to try.

The books have been arranged in alphabetical order by author’s surname. As ever, hyperlinks take you to my full review.

‘Fair Stood the Wind for France’ by H.E. Bates (1944)
A lovely heart-warming World War Two romance about a Royal Airforce pilot who crash-lands in Occupied France and falls in love with the French woman who nurses him during his convalescence.

‘Room for a Stranger’ by Melanie Cheng (2019)
A beautiful, bittersweet story about an elderly woman finding friendship in the most unexpected of places when she rents out her spare room to a foreign student.

‘That They May Face The Rising Sun’ by John McGahern (2003)
This beautiful, slow-moving book follows the year in the life of two Londoners who set up home in rural Ireland and charts the changing seasons, the farming calendar and the human interactions that make up life in a rural community.

Lillian Boxfish takes a walk

‘Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk’ by Kathleen Rooney (2017)
A rather sweet novel about an 84-year-old lady, once America’s highest-paid female advertising copywriter, taking a walk around Manhattan on New Year’s Eve in 1984.

‘The Women in Black’ by Madeleine St John (1993)
Delicious black comedy is set in (the fictional) F. G. Goode’s, a Sydney department store, during the 1950s and follows a group of women from various backgrounds who work in Ladies’ Frocks.

‘George’s Grand Tour’ by Caroline Vermalle (2015)
A mischievous and fun-filled story about an octogenarian who runs away from his overprotective family to follow the route of the Tour de France — in a car, not a bike — taking in 21 stages, 49 villages and covering 3,500km over two months.

‘Enchanted April’ by Elizabeth Von Arnim (1922)
Enchanting tale about four very different English women who rent a “small medieval Italian castle on the shores of the Mediterranean” for the month of April.

‘The Submerged Cathedral’ by Charlotte Wood (2004)
Gently told tale of a woman nursing a broken heart who builds an elaborate garden of wild Australian plants in the country home she inherits from her parents.

Have you read any of these books? Or can you recommend other happy and uplifting reads?

24 thoughts on “8 uplifting reads

    • The Submerged Cathedral was an unexpected find for me. My first Charlotte Wood novel … it proved to be a wonderful treat. And yes the Bon Arnim cover is gorgeous. There’s a similar one for her book Elizabeth and her German Garden (which I have not read though it’s been in the TBR for many years)

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  1. I read Fair Stood the Winds for France after you originally reviewed it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  2. I have read Madeleine St John of course, and Elizabeth von Arnim. (Indeed I’ve read quite a lot of Elizabeth von Arnim including Elizabeth and her German Garden, which was my first of hers.) I gave Lilian Boxfish to someone for Christmas precisely because it sounded “up”.

    I grew up knowing the Bates book, but have never read it.

    I didn’t know The submerged cathedral was uplit, nor Cheng’s novel. That is really useful to know, as I’m looking for books to cheer my Mum up.

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    • Like most of the books I mention here, The Submerged Cathedral and Cheng’s novel have sad, heartbreaking moments in them, so they’re not out-and-out cheery, but they are heartwarming and end on high/optimistic note. I guess it’s important to have sad moments because it makes you appreciate the happy ones even more 🙂

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  3. These sound lovely Kim, just the thing right now! I’ve only read the von Arnim but I saw Lillian Boxfish mentioned on Susan’s blog recently so it’s definitely on my radar now.

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    • Susan was the one who first recommended Lillian Boxfish to me… I was at home resting after some horrible oral surgery a couple of years ago and put a call out on Twitter for a cheerful read and Susan said this book would be ideal… and she was right. I love New York, too, so it was like going on a bit of a walking holiday without leaving my bed!

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    • I’ve not read the Darling Buds of May books but that is what he is most famous for… many of his other novels are out of print or difficult to get hold of, but this one was “rescued” as a Penguin Modern Classic and really deserves a wide readership. It’s a lovely book.

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  4. Your description of the book by John McGahern sounded familiar, so I checked my database. It seems to be the same book (from 2003) that my book group read in 2004, but it was published in the U.S. as “By the Lake.” I was enthralled by it, as well as by “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.” Thanks for this list. It is good to think about such comforting reads during these unsettled times.

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    • Yes, you are quite correct – it was published in the US under the title “By the Lake”. I love all McGahern’s work (he’s my favourite author) but they’re all pretty dark and heartbreaking. This book, however, is much more gentle… it was his last novel before he died… I often wonder if I should give it a re-read.

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    • Just rescued your comment from Spam… not sure why it landed in there.

      I don’t know Readerbuzz… will have to Google to see what they named.

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