Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Celia's House - D. E. Stevenson
Why do I find love stories that take place in an earlier time more acceptable than those that take place today? I don't know. They seem gentler, more romantic somehow. D. E. Stevenson's do anyway. Celia's House is many love stories. It's about the Dunnes and their lives and their house in the Scottish Border Country.
Celia Dunne never married. As the book opens, she's an old woman. She loves the house and the property where she's lived all her life. Celia makes a will leaving her house, Dunnian, not to her nephew Humphrey, as would be expected, but to his as yet unconceived daughter, to be named Celia when she arrives. As it happens, shortly after Humphrey and his wife and children move to Dunnian, a little girl is born and she is named Celia.
Then there is Becky the housekeeper and keeper of the family. And Nanny, who takes care of the children. And Johnson, the gardener. The children adore living in the country. Humphrey is in the navy and is gone for months at a time. At one point, his wife tells someone that out of the twenty-four years they've been married, they've probably only spent about four years together. Each time he comes home, his children have grown.
Another relative, a shy little girl named Deb, comes to live with them after her mother remarries and goes with her husband to some exotic place. Although only seven when she comes to Dunnian, Deb has always taken care of her mother. Her mother wasn't one to spare her child the worries of her life. At Dunnian, Deb is lost in the crowd at first. Then she blossoms.
There are a lot of misadventures in love. Deb loves Mark but Mark loves Tessa but Tessa just wants a rich man and Mark is not rich. Edith also wants a rich man and social status, but she finds that the price is a boring husband. Things come right for most of them. Even for Celia, the heiress of Dunnian, love comes at last. Or so we're led to imagine in the last page or two.
This was just the quiet, gentle book I needed at the moment. I got lost in the Dunne family's trials and happiness and in the beauty of the Scottish countryside.