Friday Five

January is the perfect time for new beginnings. You might be thinking of re-inventing yourself, getting into shape, or making a big change in your life. There are plenty of examples in literature of characters and people who take the plunge: whether that’s a lifestyle re-adjustment or a shift in perspective. Here, we bring you five characters faced with challenges, changes, and the possibility of a fresh start.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

In Eat Pray Love, writer Elizabeth Gilbert takes us through her journey from her supposedly perfect life in America, across the world, to enlightenment. With the breakdown of her marriage, Gilbert leaves behind her superficial existence, to find out if life has more to offer. Exploring pleasure in Rome, devotion in India and searching for balance in Bali, Gilbert’s journey is fascinating and affirming in equal measure.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Hailed as one of the earliest feminist novels, The Awakening follows the story of Edna Pontellier, a housewife based in Louisiana, USA. Feeling stifled by the social expectations of women at the time, Edna longs for freedom and to be with her great love, Robert. Edna desperately tries to remake her life despite the constraints on her, in what was a starkly controversial novel at the time of its publishing in 1899.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

In Me Before You, Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl with few aspirations, who takes a job as a carer for the recently wheelchair bound, Will Traynor. While Will has shocking plans to end his life, Louisa takes it upon herself to show him how truly wonderful life can be. In the end, Louisa herself is given a new lease of life thanks to Will’s final parting gift.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Many will have seen the multi Oscar-winning film, but The Remains of the Day is well worth a read. The novel follows butler, Steven, who sets off to visit an old friend, hoping that their meeting may spark old feelings into something new. Steven uses the trip to revisit his past decisions, wondering whether he made the right choices and if now he might have another chance.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan’s gorgeous graphic novel, The Arrival wordlessly explores what it is like to leave your family for a better life in a new, imaginary country. A touching migrant story, our lead character finds himself relying on the kindness of strangers and the whims of luck. It is hard not to feel empathy for this father doing his best to have a fresh start in this enchanting illustrated book.

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