Tea and Comfort with D.E. Stevenson

No doubt I’ve said this before, but lately the world is too much with me. More than ever I crave the escape of fiction, and today I’m recommending one of my very favorite “escape artists” — Dorothy Emily Stevenson.

I wrote about D.E. Stevenson a few years ago when I  recommended Miss Buncle’s Book. Little did I know at the time that I would get to enjoy TWO more books about those characters before moving on to Stevenson’s standalone novels. Since devouring the Buncle trilogy, I’ve happily consumed twelve additional Stevenson novels–some of them more than once–and I think there are 25+ more waiting to be read. It makes me feel quite spoiled for choice. Such luxury!

I’m very fond of my editions from Sourcebooks Landmark, which you can see in the featured image above. Furrowed Middlebrow, an imprint of Dean Street Press, also has released two Stevenson books with an introduction by bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith. Perhaps if I can’t convince you to give Stevenson a try, he will:

[Stevenson’s novels] are in a category of their own: clearly-written straightforward tales that take the reader through a clear plot and reach a recognisable and unambiguous ending. The appeal that they have for the contemporary reader lies in the fact that there is no artifice in these books. They are not about dysfunctional people. They are not about psychopathology. There is no gore or sadism in them. The characters speak in sentences and do not resort to constant confrontational exchanges. In other words, these books are far from modern.

Quite a few D.E. Stevenson books are available at Audible.com, and I can vouch that they are cozy entertainment for long drives. If you’d like to know a little (or a lot) more about Stevenson and her books, you’ll find plenty of information at this lovingly curated website.

To complete my bloggish offering of comfort, how about some tea and a sweet treat? D.E. Stevenson was born in Scotland and lived there her entire life (as far as I can tell), and thus I thought a Scottish treat might be just the thing. What could be more Scottish than shortbread? I searched for recipes online until I found this interesting variation: Jam-filled shortbread cookies. They were so easy to make and quite delicious–I had all the ingredients on hand already, including strawberry and black current jam. The cookie cutters were procured from JoAnn, and for tea I chose a Scottish afternoon blend from Brodies Fine Teas, a Fair Trade option available at Amazon. It makes a very strong cup, perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up, but I wouldn’t steep it for more than 3 minutes.

Listening Valley, a gift from dear friend Glenda, was my most recent read from Stevenson. Not my very favorite of her novels, but a pleasure to read nonetheless. Now that I think of it, it reminded me vaguely of L.M. Montgomery’s stories of Emily Starr — when you learn what “listening valley” means to the heroine, perhaps (like me) you’ll be reminded of “the Flash”?

Let us close with some final thoughts from Alexander McCall Smith:

These are gentle books, very fitting for times of uncertainty and conflict. Some books can be prescribed for anxiety–these are in that category. And it is an honourable and important one.

Yes, indeed!

What are your comfort reads? Do share in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Tea and Comfort with D.E. Stevenson

  1. Michelle Lunsford

    Based on these descriptions, it sounds like these books are apt to be something I’d enjoy. While I can’t say when I would get around to it – the ever growing TBR pile and all that (which has been ever so delightfully compounded by the fact that several of my favored authors have new releases of late, but I digress) – I would like to give this author a try. Recommendation of where I should start with her stories?

    1. SoniaG Post author

      You know, we should do a swap — each recommend a book (preferably with some romance in it) for the other! I thought for quite a long time about which Stevenson novel to recommend to you. Miss Buncle’s Book is her best known, I think, but I’ve always wanted you to read The Four Graces because these “Graces” are daughters of a widowed vicar. He’s such a darling! I need to re-read that one soon. (It’s designated “Book 4” in the Buncle series, but really only a few familiar characters show up.)

  2. Michelle Lunsford

    Ah, The Four Graces. I recall that title from somewhere in my mind, so it must have come from you. Okay, I’m taking the plunge – I just ordered it. 🙂

    Love the idea of a book swap as well. Here are some suggestions:
    The Penned in Time series by Pepper Basham. Yes, a series, but they are all good. Of the series Book 2 (The Thorn Keeper) is my favorite and I think it stands well enough on it’s own that it wouldn’t be confusing to read it out of sequence. If you’d prefer something contemporary by this author – for Basham is one of my favorite authors – then Charming the Troublemaker (book 2 of Mitchell’s Crossroads) or When You Look at Me (A Pleasant Gap book 2). Apparently I have a tendency to connect most with the second book in her series. Books 1 in both these series are great as well, but I think you could read out of order without it being problematic.

    The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron. I really like the flow of the time-split in this one.

    Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof.

    A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter. I love the rest in this line too, but I’d definitely start with book 1 for this series.

    The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner. I really like this author’s sense of humor and her love of movies/TV and creative ways she includes it in her writing.

  3. Michelle Lunsford

    I do hope you enjoy it. I’m currently reading her latest release, Wooing Cadie McCaffrey, and am loving it. It has made me laugh and cry. Frequently at the same time.

  4. Pingback: August Tea and a Book: A Gluttony of Gothic Mysteries | Sonia Gensler

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