I know it might seem like I am on something of a D.E. Stevenson kick now, but that is because I am! Her books are so utterly charming and just right for the kind of light, late afternoon reading I thoroughly adore. Like The Times says, she is the Mistress of the light novel and yesterday as I sat in the world's rosiest socks reading Vittoria Cottage, I found myself smiling at the page, smiling in that you want to live these people's gentle, domesticated, quietly love-torn lives way, smiling because one of the characters is in a rather hilarious battle with her thyroid (to which I can so relate!) and occasionally smiling because of gorgeous paragraphs like this one...
It was important to Caroline to do things right, to do whatever she did to the best of her ability. she saw beauty in ordinary little things and took pleasure in it (and this was just as well because she had had very little pleasure in her life). She took pleasure in a well-made cake, a smoothly-ironed napkin, a pretty blouse, laundered and pressed; she liked to see the garden well dug, the rich soil brown and gravid; she loved her flowers. when you are young you are too busy with yourself - so Caroline thought - you haven't time for ordinary little things, but, when you leave youth behind, your eyes open and you see magic and mystery all around you: magic in the flight of a bird, the shape of a leaf, the bold arch of a bridge against the sky, footsteps at night and a voice calling in the darkness, the moment in a theatre before the curtain rises, the wind in the trees, or (in Winter) an apple-branch clothed with pure white snow and icicles hanging from a stone and sparkling with rainbow colours.
If you haven't read D.E.Stevenson before (WHAT is wrong with you - she wrote Miss Buncle's Book!) then you are in for such a treat because Vittoria Cottage is the first in a series of three among a long list of other Stevenson books, and that is something of a delight to me all by itself: is there anything quite so sad as knowing a book you are adoring is coming to an end? Nor anything quite as wonderful as finding out that the story doesn't end there and you can stay in your favourite characters world for a little longer?
So might I recommend dedicating your Autumn evenings to D.E.Stevenson? Starting a new season with a new author is one of my most treasured Brocantehome rituals and Stevenson is just right for settling down with a nice cup of tea and pretending you are far away in the post-war villages of England.