Ratty and Mole. Original illustration by Ernest H. Shepard

Ratty and Mole. Original illustration by Ernest H. Shepard

Spring in fiction, as well as in real life, means all kinds of lovely things: hope and renewal and rebirth and a new beginning and second chances (or third). Right now we are waiting for the latest blizzard to blow in, and next week and maybe the week after that we'll be back in the clutches of the Polar Vortex (and can't you just picture him, with his long icy fingers and his flowing gray robe..). But spring will come, eventually, as it did last year (though not until late May, I admit), and as it does every year.

In the meantime, here are five books set in the springtime, or about springtime, or otherwise redolent of new grass and sunshine and baby animals.

"Onward and Upward in the Garden," by Katherine A. White. White was the New Yorker's fiction editor, and also an inveterate gardener. In the late 1950s and through the 1960s, she wrote a series of pieces about gardening for that magazine--elegant, thoughtful pieces, collected and published as a book after her death by her husband, E.B. White.

"The Beginning of Spring," by Penelope Fitzgerald. Talk about new beginnings.... In this novel by the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist, a wife leaves her husband behind in Russia on the eve of revolution, where he cares for the children, lusts after the housemaid, and contemplates revolution.

"The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone," by Tennessee Williams. The story of an aging actress who heads to Rome to, well, feel young again. The young gigolo she meets says, "I'll help." Because it's Tennessee Williams, you know nothing can possibly go wrong. (You could also just watch the movie.)

"The Wind in the Willows," by Kenneth Graham. Remember how it begins? With Mole fed up with spring cleaning? That opening, with Mole throwing down his whitewash brush and scrabbling and scrooging out of his hole and the popping out into a place of sunlight and warm grass.... Oh, it could make you weep. And then there are picnics, and those lovely picnic baskets, motor-car rides, and more picnics, and simply messing about in boats...

"Make Way for the Ducklings," by Robert McCloskey. Because nothing says spring like waddling, chirping baby ducks. And oh I cannot wait!

Older Post

L.A. Times book prize finalists announced, and lots of Minnesota connections

Newer Post

Spring literary events sprouting like dandelions