Wikipedia describes Stevenson as “a Scottish novelist of light romances”. Since I’m not a huge fan of romance novels, I felt the description failed to give a complete picture of the author’s work. Yes, it is lighter reading than Shakespeare. But the characters and storyline are more complex than those found in your average Harlequin. Not only do the characters grow and develop, but the writing is beautiful.
Shoulder the Sky is the third book in a trilogy (but stood alone quite well) and takes place in the years just after the Second World War. During the war many children were evacuated from London and sent to other parts of Britain. Lizzie and her two children, Duggie and Greta, arrive in Scotland and make a new life for themselves. Stevenson describes them as “flotsam cast up by the storm of war.” (p.61)
Later Stevenson refers to Duggie’s insatiable appetite for books. “Duggie was eleven years old when he discovered the joys of reading. Before then he imagined that reading was an exercise performed at school – you did as little of it as you could, it was dull and troublesome – but when he started reading for pleasure it became a positive mania… Needless to say Duggie did not understand one half of what he read. He took his reading like a drug; he absorbed it as a drunkard absorbs whisky, and the everyday world became dream-like and unreal.” (p. 63)
Stevenson’s reference to my favorite book on page 184 sealed her as a new author friend. She must have liked Jane Eyre a lot because she wrote a book called Rochester’s Wife. My only regret is that for everyone to “live happily ever after” one of the book’s couples had to get a divorce. I don’t mind books whose characters make tough decisions, but somehow this left me feeling unsettled. My online search for more of Stevenson’s books shows that they are pricey – probably because they are out of print. So it was fun to find one at a library book sale for 20 cents last week. Thank you to Sarah for introducing me to this author.