Monday, September 11, 2017

D.E. Stevenson

I'm currently reading some books by D.E. Stevenson and I thought I'd share a little about the author and one of her books which I read recently.

 Dorothy Emily Stevenson was born in Edinburgh on the 18th of November 1892. She lived in Scotland all her life. Most of her over 40 books were written in Dumfriesshire. She was related to the famous Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, who was her father's first cousin. Dorothy was educated at home by a governess and began to write stories and poems at the age of eight.

Dorothy Emily Peploe at age six. It is titled "Dear Little Miss Moffat".
She was 24 when she married Captain James Reid Peploe of the 6th Gurkha Rifles in 1916. The Peploes had four children.

Dorothy Emily Stevenson's wedding photograph.

Her first published novel was Peter West , which had appeared as a serial in Chambers Journal . Mrs. Tim of the Regiment was written in 1932 and has sequels: Mrs. Tim Carries On (1941), Mrs. Tim gets a Job (1947) , and Mrs. Tim Flies Home (1952). The Mrs. Tim books actually grew out of Dorothy's diaries she had kept as an "army wife" and were very successful. I've read the first two Mrs. Tim books and loved them.

While Mrs. Tim (Her name was actually Hester Christie and Tim was her husband) was very popular with readers both in Great Britain and overseas, another character, Miss Buncle, also accumulated many fans when she first appeared in Miss Buncle's Book in 1934. Those who loved Miss Buncle were delighted to see her reappear in Miss Buncle Gets Married (1936) and The Two Mrs. Abbots (1943). The readers of D. E. Stevenson's novels are often gratified by her tendency to allow her characters to "come back" in sequels to their original books, either as main characters, secondary characters or in cameos.

Those who read D. E. Stevenson's books for their cosy portrayal of friendship, love and family life are often surprised that she wrote An Empty World in 1936 which can best be described as science fiction! The setting is 1973 and deals with the aftermath of the destruction of life on earth by a giant comet.

The themes and plots of the eight books D. E. Stevenson wrote during the World War II were of course affected by the turmoil and uncertainty of the times. They were The English Air (1940), Mrs. Tim Carries On (1941), Spring Magic (1942), Crooked Adam (1942), Celia's House (1943), The Two Mrs. Abbotts (1943), Listening Valley (1944) and The Four Graces (1946). Of these I've read Mrs. Tim Carries On and Celia's House.

In this book, five young Ayrtons all grew up at Amberwell, playing in the gardens and preparing themselves to venture out into the world. To each of these children, Amberwell meant something different, but common to all of them was the idea that Amberwell was more than just where they lived - it was part of them.

Amberwell drove one of its children into a reckless marriage and healed another of his wounds...and there was one child who stayed at home and gave up her life to keep things running smoothly.

I've read five of her books, now....or, rather, listened to them. At the moment, I've a lot of hand stitching to do and listening to a book makes the time go by very nicely. So far, they have been very cosy, indeed, and have an overall warmth about them that make them very pleasant. I enjoy her development of characters and her devotion to depicting the moral high ground; nothing raunchy or terribly shocking in these pages. Often, there's a bit of a mystery but mostly, she unfolds the mountains, moors & lochs of Scotland so beautifully, you can almost smell the heather. Then, she adds a sprinkling of romance, a villain or tow, and you're off to the races. 

If you're looking for pleasant reading, this is it, most certainly. Generally, I tend to read all an author writes, one book after the other in chronological order. I won't be doing that with this author since not all of them are on audio books. Like Ngaio Marsh, I'll have to read the audibles as they are produced, and they are usually published out of order. I hope you will read them and like them too.

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