DE Stevenson Mrs Tim novelsI was so glad when I found out her Dean Street Press are publishing were republishing the last three Mrs Tim of the Regiment books in their Furrowed Middlebrow imprint, as they had been really hard to get hold of, and thrilled to unwrap them in a parcel from my best friend just after Christmas (the last time I saw her!). I read and reviewed “Mrs Tim of the Regiment” back in May 2017 and “Mrs Tim Carries On” (also from Dean Street) in January last year, and it was lovely to revisit our diarist heroine and catch up with her life post-war, as her husband is posted to Egypt and then Kenya and she needs to continue to make her own life.

D. E. Stevenson – “Mrs Tim Gets a Job”

(04 January 2020, from Emma)

Mrs Tim is going to be alone when her daughter, the redoubtable Betty, goes off to school, and her housing is never that secure, so she takes the opportunity to get a job and ends up working for the terrifying Erica, who resents having turned the family pile into a hotel. But Erica is really a pussy-cat and Hester gets to sort out a romance (the reader knowing what’s what before she does, which is always nice and cleverly done as ever) and gain a new sort of identity of her own for the first time in her life. Attractive Scottish scenery including a marvellous scene with hares, and Tony and Pinkie’s reappearance make this another delightful read.

D. E. Stevenson – “Mrs Tim Flies Home”

(04 January 2020, from Emma)

We’re a few years on and Mrs Tim comes back from Kenya to be around for the children, now at school at university. She settles in a quiet village near to her faithful old housemaid Annie, now running a pub with her husband. The children come to stay after a delightful period alone, where she spends the night alone in a house for the first time in her life, there’s a romance to arrange, of course, some peculiar neighbours and also a deeper mystery than before concerning the former, now deceased, owner of the house she’s renting. A new friend is made, who was also friends with this much-loved lady. Tony is in evidence and helps sort out some problems, but also causes something of a scandal. Betty and Bryan grow up satisfactorily and there are delightful reminders of scenes from the earlier books scattered throughout.

A lovely introduction by Alexander McCall-Smith really sums up DES’s novels’ gentle appeal:

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. 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. But therein, perhaps, lies the charm to which Stevenson’s many readers are so quick to respond.

What a lovely pair of books and don’t worry, more NonFiction November is to come! Thank you to Dean Street Press for reprinting these!