After some troublesome winter months—during which we collectively spent a lot of time staring aghast at the news, counting our blessings, wishing that we could disconnect, knowing that we had a responsibility not to—springtime is finally, slowly inching its way towards us, one budding flower and tiny patch of cornflower sky at a time.
Clichéd though it may be, there’s something about the season which brings a sense of hope to us all, especially in the bleakest of moments. It’s a period symbolic of rebirth and renewal, and much like a new year encourages fresh beginnings, I’ve always made the most of a new cycle of nature as a means of encouragement to pursue a new chapter within myself.
And talking of chapters—if you’ll pardon the pun—I often find that as the days get lighter and longer, there’s nothing that I enjoy more than to feast on literary delights which, although not necessarily set in springtime, are imbued with themes of the season; growth, love, promise, youth. Here are some of my favourites to sink your teeth into over the coming weeks.
Dickens’ thirteenth—and, although not my favourite, possibly his best—novel, Great Expectations is a coming-of-age tale, following orphaned Pip as he simultaneously confronts his past and matures into his future. Although it’s often dark and occasionally disturbing, the protagonist’s personal journey of growth and understanding is relatable to many of us—eccentric, jilted bride aside, most likely.
Although it wasn’t particularly well-received upon its publication in 1911, The Secret Garden now rests as Hodgson Burnett’s most enduring piece of literature in her legacy. Spoiled and vicious Mary Lennox travels to England after the death of her parents and finds beauty, healing, and love amongst the natural landscape. To this day, it remains my most beloved childhood classic.
A ground-breaking collection of poetry, Leaves of Grass revels in the joys of all seasons, but spring receives a significant amount of creative attention. Whitman’s celebration of life and humanity is palpable throughout, and the eternal, cyclic promise of nature is honoured. If you need a reminder of how wonderful the world really is, this is it.
Grahame’s charming children’s story introduces us to Mole, who stumbles unwillingly out of his burrow and into springtime, groaning and wincing against the sunlight. Surrounded by his animal friends, he adventures through the season, with plenty of fun and mishap along the way. The Wind in the Willows is timeless, joyful, and a reminder of the importance of friendship.
A delightful confectionery of charm and frivolity, with a slice of naughtiness, Watson’s 1938 novel was an instant bestseller. The titular character, a prim governess, is sent to the address of glamorous Miss LaFosse, and both women are subsequently changed forever. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a magical story and carries, at its heart, the message that everyone has the chance to bloom.