Winter and Rough Weather by D.E. Stevenson

Winter and Rough Weather cover

First published in 1951 Winter and Rough Weather by D.E. Stevenson is the third and last book in her Dering series which is set in the Scottish Borders. I found it an enjoyable read and all the loose ends were dealt with albeit a wee bit abruptly at the end. It is of course an old-fashioned family tale with a smattering of romance.

I can’t make my mind up what it is that makes these books such comfort reads. Is it the characters? The high moral standards (that sounds so pious but the obnoxious and clueless of country ways new neighbours are clear cut baddies). Maybe it’s the decency of the locals and the sense of community that add up to a fine place to visit vicariously.

At the end of Music in the Hills (the second book in the series) James and Rhoda have decided to get married, it was a difficult decision for Rhoda as she knew it would mean re-locating from London to a remote rural area in the Scottish Borders, as a successful artist she felt like she might be giving up her career. James persuaded her to take a risk and marry him but she hadn’t realised that they would be living in a cottage with no electricity or phone, five miles from a neighbour and with a very poor road in between.

The story involves a bit of mystery with fatherless children who had been evacuated to the area with their mother during the war. She has always been very reticent about her past and seemingly uncaring of her children to the point of neglect. When Rhoda takes an interest in the boy who it turns out has a talent for art, it leads to their father being found.

D.E. Stevenson wrote light romances often with a Scottish setting, very reminiscent of O.Douglas books. It has been mentioned by a few people that in Winter and Rough Weather Stevenson concentrates on the boy and fairly quickly drops his sister from the storyline. This is such a typical thing with Scottish mothers and women of that period that I almost don’t even notice it. If you’ve read O.Douglas books too you’ll remember that she always had a young lad as a central character, very much the favourite – almost in the position of a ‘house god’.

It’s a sad fact that Scottish women of the past held sons and males in general as being much more important than females. I remember that a character in one of Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy comments that ‘in Scotland female children didn’t count’. Daughters were for helping with the housework. Thankfully this attitude has disappeared – I hope.

You can read a far more detailed review of this book over at Leaves and Pages although the book is called Shoulder the Sky there, presumably a title for the US market.

6 thoughts on “Winter and Rough Weather by D.E. Stevenson

  1. I got all excited thinking there was a D.E. Stevenson I had never heard of but then I reached the end of your post and realized I, for obvious reasons, have the U.S. edition. Oh well. Her books are perfect comfort reads, aren’t they? It is like sinking into another world.

    • Jennifer,
      I wish they wouldn’t change titles like that. ‘Winter and rough weather’ is a quote from Shakespeare’s As You Like it apparently ( I can’t remember it!) so obviously Stevenson thought that was an apt title. ‘Shoulder the Sky’ refers to Atlas. I especially like her books when I know the locations, which I almost always do, it adds to the comfort read for me.

  2. Katrina,
    When I first saw the title of this book, I was surprised to learn about a D. E. Stevenson book that I had not read since I read all of the ones on a list I found on the internet. It turns out that another title of the same book is called Shoulder the Sky, and it’s one of the titles I have in my collection. Reading your review and summary makes me want to read the whole Dering series again….I’m a big fan, and I definitely find them to be comfort reads.

    • Paula,
      I’ve borrowed some of these books from the library but I’m going to look out for them at secondhand bookshops. They’re nearly always quite expensive here though – especially in her beloved Moffat. It’s so annoying when the titles are changed, I see no reason for it other than confusing readers and making them buy the same book twice!

    • Lindsay,
      I enjoyed the Dering series. I’m going to have to look out for more of her books as I think I’ve read all the ones I have in my house and the ones in Fife libraries reserve stock.

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