Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Gerald and Elizabeth, by D.E. Stevenson

I now have a long term bookish relationship with D.E. Stevenson. I hunt for her books when traveling in the UK, I scout them down online, and I browse for them in antique shops and thrift stores everywhere. I pick up each one that I find - not a single one has been left behind! I love D.E. Stevenson and so I was delighted when traveling to find this copy at a thrift store. What a find!

If you've not yet read a D.E. Stevenson, I would recommend that you get to it! When people ask me what her books are most like, I commonly compare them to the Mitford or Miss Read series. They are very calm, usually have a happy ending, they contain solid characters and provide a good chuckle or two. These are very pleasant, light and engaging reads and I love them.

I dove into Gerald and Elizabeth immediately upon purchase. This book tells the story of a brother and sister duo. Gerald has hit rock bottom and as a trail or two going on in his life, whereas his sister Elizabeth has met with great success. The two aren't a perfect match but they love each other dearly and this book tells the story of how they help each other along, navigating heartbreak and clearing up mysteries. It is a fun, distracting read just as I expected that it would be. 

Gerald and Elizabeth, I noted when reading, felt different than some of Stevenson's other books. As usual, when I'm reading a book I don't stop to research anything about it until I am done so that I can focus on the story exclusively. An impression that I had when reading was that the times in which Stevenson were writing had changed to some extent. Her characters spoke of looser morals than in previous books (nothing torrid happens in the story at all, but characters are referenced). Airplane travel had entered into the picture and the gap between Scotland and England didn't seem quite so far as it had before - when her characters had to travel by train. There were just little notables which told me something was different about this particular book.

Sure enough, upon the conclusion of my reading, I went to research it. D.E. Stevenson wrote prolifically from 1932 to 1970. From the years 1952 to 1969 she wrote one novel a year! Gerald and Elizabeth was published in 1969 and is largely touted to be her final work which explains why her characters are a bit more lax and travel more accessible. Having read much of what she wrote in the earlier half of her career, it was fascinating to read a book that came towards the end of it. 

One thing that remains extremely unclear to me is how D.E. Stevenson concluded her life. In 1970 a sequel to Gerald and Elizabeth was published called The House of the Deer. While many websites list Gerald and Elizabeth as her last work, it would be more accurate to say that this was her last mini series. Apparently a collection of works were also published posthumously which I am now eager to get my hands on!

D.E. Stevenson passed away in 1973 at the age of 81 years of age. I'd like to think she spent her final years just relaxing and enjoying life. She certainly had produced an epic amount of work in her lifetime and fun work at that! I love this picture of her, taken when she was older. She looks like a friendly soul that I would like to have had the chance to talk to. Since I can't do that, I will go on enjoying her works, appreciating more now how she evolved as a writer over time.

Who is an author that you just love to read over and over again? Is there an author that you just cannot get enough of? Care to share? If you're looking for a new writer to love and you haven't read Stevenson yet, well, I'll push her forward as an option. Again.


1 comment:

R's Rue said...

I want to read it now.

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