When Dinah was 19, Gilbert was a sort of fairy prince. She had loved him madly but gradually she had begun to realise that he was not quite so wonderful.
Despite keeping her eyes firmly shut, her heart had known there was something wrong. When Gilbert is killed in a flying accident, she is left with four children to raise. Life is hard, fighting back loneliness and eking out a meagre pension. But when her brother, Dan, newly demobbed from the Navy, arrives to whisk them away to the seaside, Dinah can at last find peace - and, when she least expects it, love.
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One of my favourite D. E. Stevenson books. Recommend this to readers looking for a love story...not R rated....,and a good story.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Quiet and amusing post-war motherhood and romance
This story surprised me by how much I liked it. I'm not usually a romance novel fan; although I would characterize this more as fiction/romance. The characters ring absolutely true, and you could easily connect with them.
The details of daily life and concerns of the young mother about her children could have been boring, but instead showed the small dramas of everyday life. The main character is concerned about raising her children well, and has some of the same questions we face today. How to shape a child to be healthy happy and compassionate? How much to guide vs let them make their own choices? Whether to take time for yourself? How to come to terms with the reality of who your husband really was, and how you looked the other way? And of course, how to deal with strangers who judge your choices.
I appreciated that Dinah had a wry sense of humor and made many observations about people's social manners and personalities. She was not arch or mean, but assessed as we all do when dealing with other people. At times I did laugh out loud. This did remind me of Jane Austen, and was the most enjoyable aspect of the book. For me.
The other nice bit was the peaceful setting at the seaside, and the lack of modern extremes. Others have said it was soothing to listen to. I think this is because the book focuses on the details of daily life more than on shocking topics. Things can remain unsaid yet well understood. You're not slapped in the face with horrific details.
For context, I'm in my 40's and was not born at the time this book was written, but there was still much I could relate to and appreciate. People haven't changed that much.
That said, a few times there were words used that are no longer acceptable. In that time, the words would not usually have been seen as derogatory by the people saying them. It shows more how people of color were seen as being so different; not bad but dark skinned in an insular island when travel was more rare and limited. Two or three of these mentions will drop like a sharp stone in your ear, although they are incidental. (Which was what jolted me - a little reminder lesson in past casual cluelessness and what that would have implied for people being described that way.) The use of these dated terms was rare and never vicious.
And of course, women were expected to keep the home and raise the children. It was seen as (and is) a very important job, made harder by postwar rationing, loss of fathers, and expectations to keep an immaculate home at all times. It may be hard now to realize how labor-intensive housework was before modern appliances.
The postwar time period made this an interesting read partly because of such differences and details. It helps me learn or at least understand that time in history better. Not to make it sound like serious literature, but these are reasons we like to read too.
So this was a nice find, a quiet yet enjoyable tale, neither deep nor frothy. All in all a lovely read, both quiet and humorous, light yet touching on serious topics too. I will read more of this author.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A bit wish washy
I made it to the end, but it wasn’t that good. Very predictable and rather boring.