I’ve been very lucky to have been sent a few review copies by Dean Street Press in their Furrowed Middlebrow imprint which are coming out this January. More to come on the ebooks but I could NOT resist this beautiful edition of D. E. Stevenson’s “Spring Magic”. I already knew I would love it, as I’ve so enjoyed “Mrs Tim of the Regiment” (now republished by Dean Street Press) and “Celia’s House“. I just love the imprint, too, great covers, each with the house frame and then a retro image. Fabulous.

I did finish this a few days ago but pre-Christmas deadlines at work have meant I haven’t had time for book reviewing! Or, in fact, reading, so I’m not too far behind myself, at least …

D. E. Stevenson – “Spring Magic”

(6 December 2018)

An utterly charming read, poignantly published in 1942 with a wartime setting – I’m always touched by books from this period, written when the author obviously had no idea of the outcome of the war.

Frances Field, escapes, with the help of a canny doctor, her Terrible Aunt and goes for a holiday to an obscure but lovely Scottish seaside village. Soon her stay at the somewhat eccentric – and only – hotel is enlivened by the appearance of a platoon of soldiers – and their rather worldly and glamorous wives. A little naive and not used to having a social life, Frances starts to get drawn into their lives – different from hers and each others’. The setting here of searching for houses and furniture and deciding what to do with the children is reminiscent of Mrs Tim, but interestingly seen from the outside looking in.

The war is a background but domestic details really loom larger when it comes down to it. Frances is a really lovely, rounded character and we really root for her: she clearly hasn’t really become a full person yet, and her experiences sensibly allow her to do this and also to learn a little about married life before she’s allowed her romance.

The descriptions of the landscape and sea are lovely and add depth, and Frances’ historical imaginings chime with the contemporary fears and mood. Relationships, especially between women, are carefully drawn with much insight. The book is cleverly written by a real artist, with delicious little foreshadowings and a firm hand on the plot, and it’s overall a charming light read with attractive characters and some serious themes, also a great novel about a small community.

Many thanks again to Dean Street Press for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.