I have been reading World War 2 novels lately, and picked up Stevenson’s “The Blue Sapphire” feeling that I needed a break from one of the darkest eras in history, and a gentler, cheerful read! And Stevenson always fits the bill.
Julia Harburn is engaged to Morland Beverley.
“…the engagement was entirely satisfactory. Their families had known each other for years. The Harburns lived in a pleasant old house in Manor Gardens, the Beverleys lived in a palatial modern flat in Springfield Mansions. They visited each occasionally and sometimes played bridge together. Mrs. Beverley was fond of Julia and had decided long ago, when Julia was a child, that she would do very nicely for Morland.”
Since Julia’s mother had died and her father remarried, Julia felt ‘in the way’, and decided to find another place to live and a job. She lands with May Martineau, a delightfully chatty retired actress who takes her under her wing, helps Julia earn her independence, and even finds her a job at a hat shop.
When Julia receives a letter one day, asking her to travel to Scotland to meet a desperately ill uncle she had never known, she realizes she has to go… but Morland, and Julia’s emotionally distant father, have other ideas. Luckily Julia has formed a new friendship with an engaging young man, Stephen, who helps her navigate the stock market (this is where the blue sapphire ties in), and become financially solvent.
The story progresses with how Julia learns to stand on her own feet (and by doing so, stand by her own decisions also), form new friendships (whether approved by her fiance or no), and discover her family background.
“Uncle Randal, I don’t believe you ever did anything bad!”
“Landsakes, Julia!” he exclaimed, laughing. “Never did anything bad! What thing to say to a man. Is there a man on this earth who could lay his hand on his heart and make such a claim? If there is I’d like to see him. I’d like to see him, but I’m not sure I’d like him much; he’d be a queer uncanny being.”
Once again D.E. Stevenson delights with a pleasant novel, down-to-earth characters, and a simple, lighthearted story that doesn’t ignore the realities of life – Uncle Randal’s illness had been drastically mismanaged – but that also brings satisfaction to the reader.