I have been fortunate to receive a couple more of Dean Street Press Furrowed Middlebrow imprint books from the publisher to review. These two lovely books were published on 7 June, and I greatly enjoyed my first read, “Mrs Lorimer’s Quiet Summer“.

Ruby Ferguson – “Apricot Sky”

(06 April 2021)

Nobody talked about their feelings at Kilchro House, it was considered one stage worse than talking about your inside.

This is a slightly odd book in that it’s almost two books in one: a children’s adventure story and a light love story, all set in beautiful countryside that Candia McWilliam in her Introduction describes as a liminal, thin place where magic can seep through – the mainland and islands of the West of Scotland.

So we have a family just post-Second World War, we have a family that’s been battered by war but not broken. Mrs MacAlvey has ended up looking after three of her grandchildren after losing two sons in the war – she has one son and his difficult, faddy wife living nearby, one daughter living with her but engaged and about to move and one daughter on her way back from a few years in America. In addition, she has visitors – she loves visitors – in the form of two more grandchildren who are a bit stuffy and stuck up, and an old friend who has had An Operation she loves to tell people about. Oh, and said friend’s daughter pops in, too.

It’s a full house, and in the middle of this, Cleo, home from America, pines for the local laird, whose brother her sister is marrying, but is tongue-tied and clumsy in front of him and losing hope – especially when she’s asked to settle at home for a while to support her mother, realising this will probably mean she will be there forever. Meanwhile, the children and their great, shabby friend Gull, had planned a summer of sailing but now have to take two drearies, Elinore and Cecil around with them. They ache to visit a mysterious island, but what will happen when they do?

Thrown in a local glamour-puss who everyone but Cleo seems to love (and an oh-so-awkward encounter between the two), and a party or two and you’ve got a lovely mix of acute observation –

“Was the tea all right?” asked Mrs MacAlvey anxiously. “I mean, the cakes just tasted like dust and ashes to me, but it’s always like that, when it’s your own party.”

– different modes of love and marriage, and all about it, wonderful descriptions of the local scenery and, just as wonderful, and I’m sure greatly enjoyed in the early 50s when this was first published, descriptions of picnics and high teas with plenty of strawberries and scones.

Thank you to Rupert from Dean Street Press for sending me a review copy of this book in e-book format in exchange for an honest review.