Vittoria Cottage by D.E. Stevenson

Vittoria Cottage cover

Vittoria Cottage by D.E. Stevenson was first published in 1949 and the blurb on the back of this 1968 library copy says: It is a family novel, and few writers can do this sort of thing better than Miss Stevenson, in which there is a thread of suspense enough to keep the reader guessing to the end. GLASGOW HERALD

That says it all really but if you want to know a bit more – Vittoria Cottage has been in the Dering family for generations, but the most recent owner has died and left his wife Caroline and three children as the inhabitants. The husband was a moaning grump, always feeling sorry for himself so he’s no loss and it’s a comfortable life for Caroline, especially as she has help with the housework from an adoring villager with the wonderful name of Comfort Podbury. Caroline’s two daughters and son are young adults, the son being in Malaya in the army fighting bandits/terrorists.

Caroline is completely honest with herself, she adores her son whereas her daughters are just daughters and Leda in particular she dislikes a lot, she’s too much like her miserable father. When Leda gets engaged to a young neighbour Caroline knows it isn’t for the best but there’s nothing she can do about it.

Meanwhile there’s a new man in town and Caroline likes him – a lot, although he’s a bit of a mystery. Things get more complicated when Caroline’s actress sister turns up.

With a cast of villagers providing some more interest and tension this turned out to be an enjoyable comfort read.

This seems to be the first of a few Stevenson books featuring the Dering family so I’ll have to track down the others, luckily Fife libraries seem to have quite a lot of her books in their Reserve Stock. No doubt they held on to those ones as she is a Scottish author.

8 thoughts on “Vittoria Cottage by D.E. Stevenson

  1. Thank you, I liked this book too. The other two I have read of this series feature Caroline’s son (Shoulder the Sky and Music in the Hills) and are also very good.

    • Lindsay,
      I have requested Music in the Hills from the library, I don’t think they have Shoulder the Sky though. I’m looking forward to reading more about the Derings. I’ve just looked it up and apparently the alternative title for Shoulder the Sky is Winter and Rough Weather.

  2. Katrina, I can’t think of a D.E. Stevenson book that I didn’t enjoy, some more than others. I have been able to find about a dozen of them at used book sales, but I found all of the other ones through the local library or through inter library loan. I keep looking and hoping to find more. I always appreciate your reviews of her books and the reminder of her lovely characters and the plots. I found a list online of the order in which the books were written and tried to read them in that order. The family series were definitely some of my favorites including the Derings.

    • Paula,
      I’ve seen hardly any in second-hand bookshops, only some in the Moffat bookshop, very shabby paperbacks and with crazy prices on them. Presumably because D.E. Stevenson lived in Moffat they are hoping that fans will make their way there and stump up the money – some probably do! It’s a nice wee town though, I can see why she settled there.

  3. Thanks for this review.

    There are some wonderful scenes in this book. Don’t you just love the part where the two boys are regaling Caroline and Robert with the plot of a movie they’ve just seen, full of treachery and violence and the guy who smacks his girlfriend around, and then she throws herself in the river and drowns. Horrible film, the adults think.

    (I wouldn’t say that Caroline dislikes her daughter Leda — though certainly we all do. What a piece of work she is!)

    • Susan D,
      That Hamlet film bit is hilarious. I think that Caroline loves Leda but doesn’t liek her as she reminds her so much of her husband, a person she disliked a lot, and only married because her parents arranged it with him, poor Caroline just went along with their wishes!

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