This is the very first book I read by D. E. Stevenson. The reason for me to have picked up this novel was not because I had knowledge about this author (ignorant as always), but was enthralled by its beautiful cover, and the first sentence at the beginning, “I wonder how a hermit would feel if he had spent twelve years in his cell and were called back to the world to take up the burden of life with its griefs and worries…”, providing with the back-cover which states the occupation of the heroine as a long-devoted librarian, I think it may bring me some inspiration. Not resonance, just inspiration.
The Young Clementina, a book about how a little lie from a little sister would become a ruin among the heroine, Charlotte Dean, and her bittersweet love interest, Garth. (I immediately think of a song by Bee Gees called I Started a Joke!) This little sister Kitty, was not an evil character, but just being gay all times and a bit preemptive and demanding to the other family members, especially her old sister Charlotte. Charlotte, about 35 of age, worked as a librarian which focused on a niche market on travel books and journal in London. She had been working there for more than 10 years and remained unmarried. Since Garth found out about the secret, he changed from a considerate, easy-going boy to a cynical, scornful, imperious but a pitiable heir of Hinkleton Manor, and the Secret was waiting to be unveiled by Charlotte, but not until the end of the novel would she realize the little lie had spoiled all things concerned.
This lie worked to such an effect that not only shadowed over the father but also the daughter, Clementina. Clementina was about 13 of age. The relationship between her parents and the negative change in the attitude and personality emerged from Garth had made themselves an isolation to the neighbourhood, which was more of a society teeming with gossips and rumours. Clementina’s character developed into rather detached, inhibitive and self-conscious when other people, even her closest acquaintances and family members, trying to pry into her thoughts.
At first, I felt a bit absent-minded when reading the story, especially on the chapters about horse-hunting; but then it got warmer to me, especially coming into contact the little chat between Clementina and Charlotte, in which they mentioned about Clementina’s favourite character of Little Dorrit, after that I continued reading it till the grand finale.
“I like Tatticoram best,” she said.
“But Clementina, she was so ungrateful.”
“She couldn’t help it, Aunt Charlotte,” Clementina said eagerly. “They wanted things from her. They wanted her to be grateful. You can’t be grateful to people who are always expecting you to be grateful. They were always pawing her.”…(amazing how a thirteen-year-old child could read a novel consisting of 900 pages!)
The conversations between these two are not my only good bits from this book, Mr. Dean, a parson of the village, strongly contended against the use of a ready-made diary compared to copy books for an more effective use of daily recordings:
“Buy a bought diary is anathema to the true diariest—take Pepys as your model, His diary was not divided into equal parts—a bought diary starts with the erroneous assumption that all days are alike, or at least equal in length…For Monday I may require three pages, for Wednesday three lines…On Monday I am tempted to be telegraphic, or even to miss out some essential portion of my theme, on Wednesday I am tempted to be verbose.“
Apart from that, the portrayal of the friendship between Charlotte and her imaginary friend, Clare, is also interesting. Read it till the end so you’ll see what would turn out of the relationship!
All in all, it is a novel which does not wrench your heart; although not so much riveting, it warmly invites you to the world of Charlotte Dean and the return to the countryside she had long yearned for. However I found this book has an abrupt ending that I think, is rather being pretentious of the Author trying to emphasize the positiveness of the novel!