Karen Wheeler is the author of three humorous books about her life in France, including her latest, Tout Soul: The Pursuit of Happiness in Rural France. Her memoirs are often described as ‘better than anti-depressants.’ In yesterday’s guest blog post, she wrote about three books that she considers to be ‘literary Prozac’.
Here, in the second part of the posting, she lists another three uplifting reads.
Down Under by Bill Bryson
Unlike ninety-nine per cent of books that promise to make you ‘laugh out loud’, this one actually delivers. There are no deep revelations or meditations on the human spirit. Instead, Bryson trundles around Australia tout seul, encountering mad dogs and giant bananas, while making droll but perceptive observations on the places that he stays and the people that he meets. It reminded me of my own experiences backpacking around Oz – admittedly with a pair of Manolos in my rucksack – in my late twenties. Escapism of the most hilarious kind.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
A warm hug of a book, this novel is set in tough times – Guernsey under the German occupation – but is full of humour and cheer. Set in 1946, it is based on correspondence between Juliet Ashton, a writer, and residents of the island, who, in the face of adversity, and banded together via a shared love of books. It celebrates the power of friendship and community and above all, human resilience. It also has a lovely (but believable) fairy tale ending. To be released as a film starring Kate Winslet in 2013.
And one to watch out for:
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Released just a few days ago (March 15) this is a wonderful and inspiring novel, which I read in one day. Harold sets off on foot to visit his friend Queenie who is dying, convinced that as long as he walks, she will stay alive. Along the way, he reflects on his own past and meets many different people, who each deliver a life lesson. It is the story of a journey – and not just a physical one. Packed with modern parables and thought-provoking observations on life, it’s poignant and sad in places – it made me cry – but at one point it also had me (mentally) punching the air in elation, along with Harold. The key messages – the basic goodness of humanity and the power of other people to carry you through the journey – echo themes in Tout Soul.
Karen Wheeler also has a blog, www.toutsweet.net, with updates of her life in France; and you can follow her on Twitter: @mimipompom1