Anna and Her Daughters

Stevenson, D.E. Anna and Her Daughters. New York: Rhinehart & Company, Inc., 1958.

Reason read: July is Ice Cream month and ice cream makes me happy. Nancy Pearl has a chapter in More Book Lust called “Cozies” and this made me think of being happy…I know, I know. It barely makes sense.

I anticipated this book to be overly sappy. The quick and dirty review: A widowed mother brings her three near-adult daughters home to Scotland after learning she can no longer afford high society London. Her daughters couldn’t be more different from each other and yet all three Harcourt sisters fall in love with the same man…cue the violins and weepy music.
Now for the long version:
Told from the first person perspective of youngest daughter, Jane, life turns upside down when mother decides to leave London and return to her pre-marriage home of Ryddelton, Scotland. Gone are the dreams of going to Oxford for an education. But Jane, not being as pretty nor outgoing as her sisters (as mentioned way too many times), soon meets Mrs. Millard and learns she is capable of becoming a successful (and published) author. Her dreams are only overshadowed by her eldest sister, Helen, when she wins the affections of the man whom with all three sisters fall in love. Of course the prettiest sister wins the boy, but not all is lost. It’s not really a spoiler alert to say all four Harcourt women (mother Anna included) find their way to some kind of romance.
Jane is a wonderful character. Caring and considerate, she demonstrates perfect manners no matter the situation. I found myself admiring her for her attitude.

Line worth remembering, “You have to be in the position of needing things very badly indeed before you can appreciate possessing them” (p 105). Very true. And another, “And I saw how foolish I had been to fuss and worry about “the right approach” because “the right approach” to all our fellow creatures is to just love them” (p 228). Amen.

Book trivia: I think Anna and Her Daughters should have been titled Jane and Her Family because it isn’t Anna’s perspective readers receive, it’s Jane’s.

Nancy said: Pearl described Stevenson as a writer of “gentle reads” (p 58). I would agree.

Author fact: Stevenson wrote over forty books and was a poet before becoming a novelist. I’m reading three of her fictions for the Challenge but sadly, none of her poetry.

BookLust Twist: as previously mentioned, from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Cozies” (p 58).

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