Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager
We frequently hear requests from readers for old-fashioned, happy-ending books – perfect reading for summertime. Here are some of my favorite heart-warming and hopeful books from years gone by, admittedly a list with a distinct girlie slant offered mainly with reading women and girls in mind.
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. The true, laugh-out-loud adventures of a family of twelve rambunctious, red-haired siblings and their eccentric parents during the first decades of the 20th century.
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West. Scenes from the life of the fictional Birdwell family in Civil War-era Indiana – farm wife Eliza, a gentle, wise, Quaker minister; her more free-spirited husband, Jess; their family and their community – during a time of upheaval and spiritual questioning. After reading this book, enjoy the wonderful 1956 film version starring Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire.
Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. A classic novel of love and courage in the Canadian wilderness, this is the story of Katherine Mary O’Fallon, privileged daughter of Boston, and her new husband, Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Mounties, as they start a life together in a dangerous, beautiful, enthralling place.
Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith is another heart-warming novel about early marriage. Young Annie McGairy leaves her home in Depression-era Brooklyn to join and marry Carl who is studying law at a large Midwestern university. This is her story of their first year of marriage as she and Carl face many challenges and learn how to honor themselves and their marriage.
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough. A delightful memoir of innocents abroad – footloose, young, and disaster-prone. In 1920, best friends and Bryn Mawr students Skinner and Kimbrough embarked on a memorable European Grand Tour and later recounted with great humor all its surprises, mishaps, wonders, and revelations.
Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. The charming novel, written in letters, this is the story of orphan Judy Abbott who, through the generosity of an anonymous benefactor, is able to attend school and discover a world that offers her undreamed-of possibilities.
A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich. The story of a young pioneer woman who puts her youthful dreams aside to live a challenging but rewarding life with her husband on the Nebraska frontier. And if you like this novel, look for The Edge of Time by Loula Grace Erdman, another captivating and romantic pioneer adventure set in the Texas panhandle.