Esther Musgrave worries about her family of three daughters. And with good reason.
“How strange it was to have three daughters, all completely different! They had all been brought up in the same way with the same background, and in outward appearance they were not unlike, but inwardly there was no resemblance at all: Delia so prickly and difficult; Meg so sweet-natured and sensible; Rose so gay and happy and young!”
Could there ever be three sisters in one family more different than the Musgraves?
Delia is touchy and easily provoked (there’s one in every family!) The oldest is often more responsible and ambitious, but not in Delia’s case. Having felt pushed aside from a young age to make room for her younger siblings, Delia yearns for fulfillment and her frustrations are easily transferred to those around her. Alienating her fellow actors and actresses in a small village play is just one of Delia’s outlets. When a new neighbor moves in next door, Delia finds a way to ingratiate herself with Eulalie Winters. Delia very quickly (and not very prudently) enmeshes herself in her new friendship and is greatly influenced by her older, more sophisticated friend… but is Eulalie everything she seems?
Margaret, the middle child, is happily married to Bernard and has everything she wants… well, almost everything. She loves being a homemaker and creating a place of safety for her husband, giving him comfort foods when he returns from his demanding job at the law firm. Bernard is saddled with running his mother-in-laws estate and his lawyer background is perfect for the job, but it isn’t always an easy task (especially when Delia so outspokenly objects to his methods).
Rose is young, naïve and pretty. Just finished with school, she is also seeking her place in life and is ripe for plunging into in an unwise relationship. Will she be rescued in time?
I picked up The Musgraves looking for a quiet, gentle comfort read and as usual DE Stevenson’s writing hit the spot. Her characters are on-target and human, and I had to laugh when Mrs. Bloggs decides to take her dog for a long walk on an uncomfortably hot day all in the pursuit of rescuing a damsel in distress! (I loved that chapter!)
“Soon after the arrival of Puggy (their dog), the Bloggses bought a ‘telly’; (it was essential to have one, because all their neighbours had ‘tellies’) but none of them liked it much. The fact was they were all great talkers and they found it more interesting to exchange news of their daily doings and the gossip of Shepherdsford than to look at and listen to the daily doings of the outside world, and they soon discovered that it was more comfortable to sit and talk quietly than to shout and bellow at each other with the ‘telly’ turned on full blast. Of course they turned it on full blast when a neighbour dropped in to see them because that was the right thing to do, but neighbours often brought news – interesting news about other neighbours – which the Bloggses wanted to hear.”
Perhaps others don’t get as much pleasure out of this author as I do. Her language and cultural references are a little outdated at times with uncomplicated plots, but for me, that simply adds to her charm. DE Stevenson, long a favorite of mine, never disappoints.