Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Guest Blog--Bel Lamington by D. E. Stevenson

During the past week, I have picked up and started several books. By page ten I was not interested anymore. Not that I won't go back and try again, but I wanted to read something that carried me away from all of the packing and unpacking that I am currently doing in my life. In desperation one night, I went to my favorite books and pulled down an out of print novel written by D.E. Stevenson.

I could only vaguely remember the story of Bel Lamington until I started reading it again. Stevenson was a descendent of the famous Robert Louis Stevenson so it is not surprising that many of her stories take place in Scotland in part or completely. She wrote light romance novels and I think was very good at it. I haven't ventured into the type of novel that is produced monthly and follows a formula. I suppose that her books probably are not that different but they have become some of my favorites stories. Stevenson herself was the wife of an Army officer and she began writing when a friend read her journal and suggested that she turn it into a book. Four of her best books are from those diaries and are the Mrs Tim Christy series.

In this novel, Bel is an orphan who lives in a small flat in London. Her parents died in an auto accident when she was young and she was raised by an unmarried aunt. When the aunt died there was just enough money for Bel to go to secretarial school. She left the small town where she had been raised and went to London to pursue a career and to take care of herself. She has no one she can rely upon except herself. One of her greatest fears is that she will become ill and will be unable to keep her job or pay the rent. She works for a small firm as a personal secretary and deals with the petty jealousies in the office. She knows none of her neighbors in her apartment building and her one refuge is a small rooftop garden she has created outside her apartment window. One day she comes home and discovers that there is a man sitting in her sun chair in her garden. He has climbed over the roofs and discovered her oasis in the city. Mark is an artist and he begins to paint Bel kneeling planting out her seedlings. As he returns daily to paint, he brings romance and excitement into her dull life.

I am not sure why I love Dorothy Emily Stevenson so much. Some of her books bring me more satisfaction than others. Bel Lamington is one that is warm and delightful and, of course, has a happy ending. However, she goes through heartbreak and being fired from her job before she manages to discover the real love in her life. And fortunately for me, there is a second book written about Bel called Fletcher's End that tells more about the challenges of her life and that of her newly found friend Louise. I discovered D.E. Stevenson by chance in the library in Boise, Idaho many years ago. I am so grateful that I chanced upon her books because they have become old and very dear friends. However, I really don't expect anyone else to decide that these books written 40 to 60 years ago are forgotten treasures. But thank goodness they are there to read again when I feel the need for an old friend in my life.


Blogger said...

I've read--and enjoyed--several D.E. Stevenson's. For the life of me, though, I can't remember the titles. I must have picked them off my mother's bookshelves.

Blogger said...

One of my favorite things about notaconnoisseur is that she enjoys researching topics that interest her. If only I were not so lazy myself . . .