There is something inherently heartwarming about a story of a hard-hearted person learning to be more human and loving. Think of A Christmas Carol for a classic example. Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman, the author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, bestsellers in their native land, is another example. Britt-Marie starts out the book as something of a pain in the neck: stuck in her ways, not very fond of her fellow human beings, always willing to tell other people what they’re doing wrong. At age 63, she makes a big change in her life: leaving her husband of 43 years and moving to the only place she can afford, a down-on-its-luck town called Borg. Fastidious Britt-Marie is now living in a place full of noisy children, muddy floors and a rat for a roommate, but that’s not even the worst of it. The worst of it is that the town needs a soccer coach for the children, and there’s no one else available but — you guessed it — Britt-Marie. She is a most unlikely coach (for one thing, she hates sports), but she takes on the job and to her surprise, she begins to develop relationships with the children, and becomes more and more a part of the community. There’s even a man, a handsome and friendly local policeman, who’s attracted to her in her new role. Can Britt-Marie change? Can she find happiness? Of course she can. Read and enjoy!
Another classic and appealing story is the one where a person moves to a completely different environment and is charmed and changed by the locals there. If this is your cup of tea (and why not? Everybody needs a dream!), then by all means check out Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugard. Pause for a moment and just consider the title. Wouldn’t you read a book like that just based on the title alone? I certainly would! This book is described as “Under the Tuscan Sun set in Ireland,” which gives you the whole concept (if you’ve read Under the Tuscan Sun, of course). Our protagonist, Diane, had a happy life in Paris: married, mother of a daughter she loved, owner of a bookstore, nice home, everything you could ask for. Then one accident killed both her husband and her daughter and Diane, reeling from the shock, leaves Paris and France and heads for Ireland. There she licks her wounds in Mulranny, a small town on the coast, where she’d always wanted to go with her family but never quite made it. And there she begins to heal, with the help of a number of Irish characters including a handsome but rather abrasive man who lives next door. Will she return to Paris and her old life or will she put down roots in this new home? Read the book and find out.