On a beautiful spring day, Julia Harburn sat on a seat in Kensington Gardens enjoying the sunshine.
She was wearing a white frock and a large straw hat with a sapphire-blue ribbon which exactly matched her eyes - a strange coincidence, as it turned out, for the blue sapphire was to have a far-reaching influence upon her life.
So far, her life had been somewhat dull and circumscribed; but quite suddenly her horizons were enlarged. She began to make new friends - and enemies - and she began to discover new strength and purpose in her own nature. This development of her character led her into strange adventures.
©1963 D. E. Stevenson (P)2005 Soundings
I only "discovered" DE Stevenson recently, but I have enjoyed many of her books several times over. This offering will not make my re-listen list. It seems as if DE collected scrap ends from different stories that just didn't make it into a more robust novel. It's not to say it's not gentle and somewhat enjoyable, but the heroine has almost no character and her foray in the hat-selling business seems dated, even as it was written.
A better DE Stevenson book about a young woman leaving a sheltered life is "Listening Valley."
If you're looking for something not terribly hard to follow with no big surprises or alarming plot turns, this could fit the bill. (And I'm not being sarcastic, sometimes a quiet book is needed.) It should be noted that this book puts forth a few more stereotypes and recycled characters than usual.
The narrator, Hilary Neville, does her usual excellent job.
I had read this book before, and had forgotten a lot of it, so it was delightful to rediscover the world of Julia and her surroundings. You won't be disappointed. Hilary Neville's narration is wonderful; she is one of my favorite DES readers and she hits the accents perfectly. Very satisfying.
Avid reader and journalist deploying my pen in the service of this planet's visionaries.
The worst kind of romance. Characters are stereotypes. Dialogue cringeworthy. If you want suspension of disbelief this story is not for you
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