The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson

The Young Clementina cover

The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson was first published in 1935 and the story is told in three parts. It’s told by Charlotte who is working in a library in London which isn’t exactly heaving with life and fun. She’s really very lonely and scrapes along on very little money, it’s all very different from what she expected from life when she was younger. She had been engaged to Garth and so had been destined to be the ‘lady of the manor’ but Garth had to go off to World War 1 and when he came back he was a very changed man.

A lack of communication from both sides leads to the end of their relationship, but twelve years down the line Garth comes back into Charlotte’s life, asking her if she will go to live in his home to look after his young daughter who is Charlotte’s god-daughter, while he goes off exploring. Charlotte is in two minds about it, mainly because she knows that after a year or so of comfort and servants in beautiful surroundings she will find it much more painful to return to her dismal poverty stricken existence.

Charlotte eventually discovers what had changed Garth’s attitude towards her and there’s a happy ending. I really enjoyed this one which has a good mixture of mystery, romance, lovely rural descriptions and social commentary with the ludicrous situations that couples had to get into in order to get a divorce back in the 1930s when the book was written.

Attitudes change over the years, however I was absolutely shocked when a male character in this book in all seriousness declared his love for a thirteen year old girl, the man was much older, old enough to be the girl’s father. But Charlotte wasn’t fazed at all and just asked him to wait four years!! Had I been Charlotte I would have beaten him off with a brush! In fact I might have informed the police. How times change.

D.E. Stevenson was of course a Scottish author and Robert Louis Stevenson was her second cousin.

6 thoughts on “The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson

  1. It’s been so long since I read this book that I have forgotten much of what you described as the plot. I will have to find a copy and read it again. It’s amazing what a person does or doesn’t notice about story lines depending on personal experience and age. D.E. Stevenson books are some of all time favorites. It might be time for me to get back to them!

    • Paula,
      I’m always wary of putting too much detail in my thoughts on books, in case it spoils the book for anyone who might want to read it, I’m sure it would come back to you if you start reading it again. I find her books are a perfect distraction from all the Brexit political mayhem here!

  2. Hi Katrina,
    I just love the sound of this one, but I have yet to read D.E. Stevenson, which amazes me. I have Volume One of a trilogy–I have it on my Nook Samsung. And I know I will love her work. I think it’s the length of the novel that holds me back, BUT look at me, The Bestseller has 654 pages, which, by the way, is moving very quickly.
    I have my notebook nearby. Making a note: Read D.E. Stevenson in 2019. (Oh, I hate that “9” in 2019!

    • Judith,
      You hate that “9” – am I missing something, or is it just your unlucky number? I think you will like Stevenson’s light romances as there’s usually an interesting aspect of social history involved – and often attractive locations.

  3. Just catching up after a few days mostly offline. So I’m late chiming in here.

    The Young Clementina is one of my favourite DES books, which I frequently reread. I like so many things about it, especially how Char absolutely comes into her own life once she moves back to the country. And how Clementina comes out of her spikey shell.

    Yes, a few annoying Old Novel Tropes, but I’m willing to overlook them, and as for the adult wishing to marry young Clemmie, I am confident that when the four years are up (in 1939!) she and her friend will be off to London working at war jobs, and her would-be suitor will realise how inapproriate his plan was.

    • Susan D,
      I agree that it is a really enjoyable read, but that bit about him eyeing up a 13 year old as his future wife gave me the creeps. I think men tend to get to a stage when they think – it’s time to settle down and get married – and he should have been told to look to someone more appropriate in age instead of kicking around for four years. But you’re right, after learning to be a young woman at school Clementina would have joined one of the forces before she was called up, or helped with code-breaking or something.

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