Gentle Fiction for Harsh Times

Fiction can take us to a place where kindness, gentleness, and a sense of community prevail. Try one of these books when you feel like escaping from the harsh realities of life.

Dearest Dorothy Are We There Yet by Charlene Ann Baumbich
book titleIntroduces the colorful inhabitants of Partonville, a small farming town in southern Illinois, including the senior citizens’ softball team, the Wild Musketeers; the Happy Hookers, a group of women who used to hood rugs but switched to playing bunco; and the irrepressible eighty-seven-year-old Dorothy Jean Wetstra, who faces a choice that could change her town forever.

Evening Class by Maeve Binchy
A middle-aged man and woman are the co-teachers of an Italian language class in Dublin, each hoping the class will renew their lives of disappointment.

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burnsbook cover
One thing you could depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, was that word got around – fast. On July 5, 1906, things took a scandalous turn. That was the day that E. Rucker Blakeslee, proprietor of the general store and barely three weeks a widower, eloped with Miss Love Simpson – a woman half his age and, worse yet, a Yankee! On that day, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy’s adventures began, and an unimpeachably pious town came to life.

Out of the Rain by Elizabeth Cadell
Forsaking his comfortable London digs to pursue a stepmother who has made off with a few valuable family paintings, solicitor Edward Netherford finds himself romantically involved with Estelle Denly, the easy going mother of three young children.

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallasbook cover
When city girl Rita marries local boy Tom and they move back to the farm, Queenie Bean goes out of her way to welcome them.  She also encourages Rita to become part of the local quilting group, known as the Persian Pickle Club.

The Last Promise by Richard Paul Evans
Having followed her new husband to his native home in rustic Tuscany, Ellana distracts herself from her marital disappointments by caring for her asthmatic son, and reevaluates her life when she meets American art lover Ross.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flaggbook cover
Mrs. Threadgoode’s tale of two high-spirited women of the 1930s, Idgie and Ruth, helps Evelyn, a 1980s woman in a sad slump of middle age, to begin to rejuvenate her own life.

The Gazebo by Emily Grayson
An elderly man arrives unexpectedly at the office of a small-town newspaper editor and offers her his personal story of a love affair that spans more than fifty years.

Friendship Cake by J. Lynne Hintonbook cover
Five women, working together to create a church cookbook, share their passions, loves, and losses, including pastor Charlotte Stewart, who is suffering a crisis in faith ; widow Margaret, the town confidante; and Jessie, the only African American in an all-white church..

At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon
Longing for change in the face of burnout, Episcopal rector Father Tim finds his lonely bachelor existence enriched by a stray dog, a lonely boy, and a pretty neighbor.

Candles on Bay Street by K.C. McKinnonbook cover
A portrayal of small-town life chronicles the efforts of Sam Hebert, the veterinarian of Fort Kent, Maine, to understand the secrets of Dee Dee Michaud, the beauty who left town only to return years later to begin a candle business.

The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love by Joan Medlicott
Grace, Amelia, and Hannah decide that the last thing they want to do is live out their lives in a group home, and so, to the dismay of their children, they pool their resources and move to Covington, North Carolina, and new lives.

A Tangled Web by Jane Peartbook cover
Running away from her family and fiance, Darcy Welburne joins the staff of the Harvey House, where she finds great personal satisfaction, but the lies she has woven around her new life may have devastating consequences.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
Winter solstice–the shortest day of the year–represents darkness and also hope, renewal, and rebirth.  Five very different people come together in this setting, ranging in age from teenagers to mid-sixties, each of whom must confront very different challenges or losses.

The Lighthouse Keeper by James Michael Pratt
A young man, raised by his lighthouse keeper uncle, learns an important lesson in keeping love alive when he returns from World War II.

Thrush Green by Miss Read
On May Day during the annual fair in the small village of Thrush Green, complications develop in the relationships of a group of inhabitants.

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Rossbook cover
Recently widowed and newly wealthy, Miss Julia is visited one day by Hazel Marie, who claims that her nine-year-old son is the child of Julia’s late husband, and when Julia is left to care for the child, she reveals the scandal that precipitated her husband’s death.

A Country Affair by Rebecca Shaw
The first in a series of enchanting novels set in a veterinary practice on the outskirts of a Yorkshire, England, town introduces Kate, the receptionist in a busy veterinary practice; Scott, the flirty Australian vet; her faithful boyfriend, Adam; and the entertaining animal patients

Message In a Bottle by Nicholas Sparksbook cover
A 36-year-old single mother finds a bottle containing a love letter written only three weeks earlier by a man declaring his love to his darling Catherine. She decides to try to make contact with the man in hopes of changing both their lives.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
A quietly powerful novel about the profound love between a photographer and an Iowa farmer’s wife. They spend only four days together while he is on location to photograph covered bridges for National Geographic magazine, yet they never lose their feelings for each other.