Book Review: Anna and Her Daughters

Author: D. E. Stevenson

Publication Date: 1958

Rating: 4/5 stars

Book Blurb: For Anna Harcourt and her three daughters—lovely Helen, who always gets what she wants, young Jane, who makes the best of what she has, and Rosalie, the middle daughter who wavers somewhere in between—the world is turned upside down by their father’s death and the discovery that they will have to sell their London home. The girls are shocked when Anna buys a cottage in Ryddelton, her home town in Scotland, but they soon settle in to Scottish life, each in her own way. As time passes, the three girls must contend with love and tragedy, hope and despair, laughter and tears, all unfolding with D.E. Stevenson’s incomparable storytelling and knowledge of human nature.

This was a delightful read. It was like a warm blanket, comforting. Upon starting the story, I became invested very quickly.

I liked the characters. Jane is our main character and everything plays out from her particular point of view. The family dynamic was interesting – the oldest sister Helen’s selfishness was so extra, she became a good character to vent frustration upon. You could count on her to callously look out for number one and get your blood boiling. Oh, she truly angered me at points.

This was pure escapism. With one caution: There was a side trip to Kenya, and the references to the people that lived there made me cringe. This book was written in 1958, it was different time, but all that context didn’t stop me from flinching and feeling that racism in my gut.

That aside, Stevenson’s take on human nature – some of the gems she had to say about why Helen acted the way she did or even the topic of familial boundaries, whether it be between sisters or your influence regarding a family member’s marriage, it was well thought out and made the story more relatable rather than a one dimensional story.

I learned about this book from a blog that spoke about the Dean Street Press line of books called Furrowed Middlebrow, which is a reprint of vintage women’s fiction. I am thinking of reading these books alongside my Short Classics Project – which I am still working on. I’m also eyeing British Library Crime Classics line of books- but I will do a post on that in the near future.

So for this book – Recommend!

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