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Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal, of new beginnings, youth, hope and promise, and happiness. A novel that ends on the first day of spring promises happy ever after.
Yet winter still – and unpredictably – lingers in blustery storms and sudden chills, threatening new lambs and blighting early crops. T S Eliot called April “the cruellest month” because the hope that is awakened in spring may be false hope which is never realised.
· Amidst the bleakness of personal tragedy, April inherits an English country house and its neglected garden, in Catherine Robertson’s novel The Hiding Places, and new life beckons.
· In the crime novel by A D Miller, Snowdrops is a Moscow slang term for those corpses which have been concealed by snow during the winter, only to be revealed by the spring thaw.
· Spring is the great connective in Ali Smith’s novel, uniting the past and the present, men and women, the east and west, the north and south.
· A private walled garden – and its regeneration – is a metaphor for the psychological state of the characters in the classic novel The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
· Four English women spend a month together on the Italian Riviera, in The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, a spring rejuvenation in which they rediscover love and hope, as well as sunshine.
· Rough winds may shake The Darling Buds of May, in the novella by H E Bates, but they don’t discourage the Larkins family in their infectious love of life and each other.
· Vianne moves to a small French village and opens a chocolaterie just as Lent, the traditional time of fasting, begins; the spring rites of Easter brings the events of Chocolat to a head, in the novel by Joanne Harris.
· Suresh is attracted to a woman whose face is always hidden by an umbrella in “Monsoon Love”, a short story by Andrew James Pritchard.
· Ursula Todd is reborn over and over in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, living alternate possible lives in an eternal spring.
· Frank is suddenly abandoned by his wife in Moscow and left to care for his children in The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald; the novel ends with a ritual spring cleaning when the windows are flung wide open.