Characters you’ll love

Catherine Coles
Coles Notes

In last week’s column, I wrote about characters on the edge; books with fictional people who are complex, often unsympathetic, and downright unhinged.

This week, I’ll suggest some new books for people who love to love the characters they read about. If you appreciate a charming glimpse into the life of someone who could be your friend (rather than a dark and intense character study), then read ahead! These four books are equal parts heartwarming and likeable.

The Red Address Book, follows 96-year-old Doris Alm, of Stockholm, Sweden as she looks back upon her life. Doris’ lifelong belief is that, above all, love matters most. Reminiscing during her weekly Skype calls to her only living relative, her grandniece, Jenny, in San Francisco, Doris wants to be sure that Jenny, who had a difficult childhood, appreciates her approach to life and her significant relationships. As a young child, Doris was given a red address book by her beloved father, who died shortly thereafter.

The book includes many details, about which Jenny is curious. When Doris’ health falters, Jenny travels to Stockholm to be with her and learns of her great-aunt’s many unusual connections, bonds, and experiences during WW II. This would be a great reading choice for those who enjoyed The Little French Bistro by Nina George.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella is a sweet and comical read that takes us into the life of Fixie Farr, a thoughtful and hardworking 20-something struggling to keep her family’s kitchen shop thriving while juggling an on-again/off-again relationship with her high school crush, two unhelpful older siblings, and a back-and-forth IOU with a handsome businessman. This novel is a light and entertaining story of family, love and empowerment. Plus, it features Sophie Kinsella’s go-to central character: a plucky young woman who you can’t help but root for.

Described as “a modern twist on My Fair Lady”, Under the Table by Stephanie Evanovich follows a canny young divorcee named Zoe.

After fleeing her rocky marriage in Ohio, Zoey comes to NYC to live with her sister and tries to make a life for herself. She starts up a one-woman catering business and meets Tristan, a wealthy man who grew up on a small island. Tristan’s sheltered upbringing leaves him out of step with life in NYC. Zoey’s determined to make him over so he can find the girl of his dreams, but as they get closer, she is surprised by how much she finds herself wanting that girl to be her.

Yes, this novel is as predictable as they come. However, if you are in the mood for a Hallmark Channel movie (except steamier and in book form!), look no further.

When You Read This by Mary Adkins is an epistolary novel that is at once comical, poignant and romantic…and it starts in an unexpected place. Iris Massey is dead of terminal cancer at the age of 33. Smith, her boss at a struggling PR firm, is reeling from her death but discovers she had spent six months writing a secret blog filled with her musings and left instructions for him to publish them. With the help of his energetic college intern Carl, Smith attempts to get permission to publish from Iris’s neurotic sister Jade, and things quickly get complicated. Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, text messages, and online therapy sessions, their inner lives are brought to light. Although these characters have some baggage, they are all likeable and come together to offer an engaging story that feels light in spite of the depressing subject matter.

All of these books can be reserved from your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries or online at

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