Friday, May 19, 2017

The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson

Misleading Cover
I've written before that I enjoy D.E. Stevenson's novels for their good writing, friendly conversation and emphasis on comfortable romance (as opposed to goose bumps, sweaty palms and racing hearts). I picked up The Young Clementina because I was in need of a light-hearted diversion. The cover led me to believe it was written in the same vein as the Miss Buncle books, but I was quite mistaken.

The Young Clementina caught me off guard because 1) It is not light-hearted. Most of the characters have been broken by war, sin or loneliness. 2) The title is completely wrong. Young Clementina plays a part in the story, but is not its main focus. 3) It has a lot more drama than I'm used to in Stevenson's books.

Accurate Cover
The book opens with Charlotte Dean, a lonely spinster, who works in a stuffy London library. She is on the verge of making a huge life decision. Should she give up her quiet, orderly life and raise her motherless god child, Clementina? Since she has no one to talk to (all her friends and family are either dead or estranged,) she pours out her heart (in writing) to a stranger she met on a bus. She doesn't even know the stranger's name, but hopes that expressing her thoughts to a "friend" will help clarify her thinking. A pitiful scenario.

I dislike spoilers very much, so I will finish by saying that Miss Dean comes through her trials a stronger, better person. If I had known that this was Stevenson's attempt at a more serious novel, my expectations would have been different, and I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.



Anonymous said...

When originally published this book had different titles. In England it was titled Divorced from Reality. In the US it was titled Miss Dean's Dilemma. Either of those titles is gives a much more accurate forecast of the depths of this novel. I do enjoy the book a lot, but I first read it in a library copy which had the Miss Dean's Dilemma title.

hopeinbrazil said...

Thank you for pointing that out.