The tangled destinies of an unusual family are played out against the backdrop of the English countryside where two pretty sisters and a beautiful widow take centre stage in a drama of dangerous flirtation and backstairs gossip. Esther Musgrave, an attractive widow, has her hands full trying to keep her energetic family together – and on speaking terms! Her three daughters, prickly Delia, sensible Meg and carefree Rose, mean everything to her, especially since the death of her husband, Charles.
The story of the Musgraves in their Cotswold home, their loves and hates, hopes and disappointments, is vividly recounted in this charming chronicle of family life.
©1960 D. E. Stevenson (P)2011 Soundings
I love the novels of D. E. Stevenson. Rather than focus on one "hero" and "heroine", this book is the story of a family, and we follow quite a number of characters, hightlighting the widowed Mrs. Musgrave and her three daughters, but also covering their mysterious new neighbor, the secretary of the local golf club, some of the domestic staff, and others. Anne Dover does an excellent job of distingushing the various characters and also of demonstrating their moods and emotions. I loved to listen to her voice, and would love to hear her narrate other English based novels by D. E. Stevenson, such as The Four Graces or Vittoria Cottage. This is a reading to listen to over and over again.
Many of Stevenson's novels are set in Scotland or have some connection to Scotland, as Stevenson was born and lived there most of her life. However, The Musgraves is set completely in England, with mention of South Africa.
If you like a gentle old fashioned story that is as refreshing and satisfying as a well made cup of tea, you will enjoy The Musgraves. Like other works by this author, the setting is a country village and the characters are close knit family members and neighbors. In this story, a glamorous newcomer turns a few heads and inflames a bit of envy. The dislocation of settled relationships provokes growth and ultimately happy new chapters in the lives of all concerned. The narrator is perfect for this story, capturing a wide range of characters each with his or her own distinctive tone and vocal stance.
I have long loved the writings of Dorothy Emily Peploe Stevenson, but this was a new one to me. I'll admit I wasn't expecting much from the description, but it went in directions I wasn't expecting and wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be. It was thoroughly delightful, and I recommend it for anyone who wants a very pleasant listening experience. Anne Dover did an excellent job at narration, also.
The Musgraves is a flashback to a time when propriety ruled. If one accepts it in the spirit of the time in which it was written, is will be a pleasing afternoon.
It is a window into a world much less dictated by corporate profit and the prurient nature of current popular fiction. Permit yourself to accept the story and enjoy it. It will be a pleasant break for you. It's completely alright to put yourself into that time and enjoy a cup of tea.
The reader was easily understood. Enunciation was clear. Inflection well placed. Use of pause and pace precise.
I will enjoy other books in the Musgrave series.
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