Theatre Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild (Dell, New York, 1983)
This wasn't on my reading list at this time, but the combination of (1) hearing a Teaching Company lecture about The Tempest and remembering the part it plays in this book, and (2) a dreary, chilly, rainy day in which the computer, the dryer, and the telephone all suddenly stopped working, led me to feel that what I needed was a bit of curling up by the heater with a blanket, a cup of tea, and an easy-to-read, uplifting book.
Written in 1945, Theatre Shoes is a delightful story set in World War II era England, and puts into perspective the problem of a few recalcitrant appliances. It's a children's book, but quite suitable for adults looking for comfort. I've said many times that you never outgrow good books.
We also have Streatfeild's Dancing Shoes and Ballet Shoes, but I think this is my favorite. It's better written, more realistic, and less sappy than A Little Princess, but contains a similar theme of responding to bad times with good attitudes. In this day of whining, fault-finding, and the victim mentality, such a reminder is a good encouragement. It reminds me of a passage from Arthur Ransome's Swallowdale. (Perhaps one of the reasons I like Theatre Shoes is that it mentions the Ransome books.)
"They look happy enough," said Captain Flint, watching the Amazon slapping across the ripples on her way to Horseshoe Cove.
"They aren't," said Captain John.
"Ï know they aren't, but the next best thing to being happy is to look it."