Katherine Wentworth (Katherine, #1) - D.E. Stevenson

I’ve had Dorothy Emily Stevenson on my list of authors to try for at least five years. I already own two of her books: Miss Buncles Book on kindle, and Mrs. Tim of the Regiment in paperback. I can’t really say what made me finally read this Kindle Unlimited offering – probably just because I will be cancelling the service in November, and I figured I might as well get as much out of it as it can before it goes. At this point, I have identified four D.E. Stevenson books that are available in the KU library: this one, the sequel called Katherine’s MarriageAmberwell, and Anna and her Daughters. I have already downloaded Katherine’s Marriage, because I must know what happens next for Katherine, Simon, Den and Daisy, and Alec.

 

Katherine Wentworth, both the book and the character, are simply charming. This is a book where little happens, but it is still such a satisfying read. Katherine is a young widow, raising her stepson, Simon, who is 16 during most of the book, and her 7 year old twins, Denis and Marguerite (Den and Daisy). At the beginning of the book, she runs into an old school friend, Zilla, while having a day on her own, which really starts the book in it’s romantic trajectory.

 

Katherine is neither perfect nor smug – she is a simply wonderful character. She’s sensible, loving, kind, and cheerfully makes do with what must be quite a small income. Her husband, Gerald, died very unexpectedly, leaving her both grief-stricken and impoverished in a genteel fashion. During the course of the book, they discover that Simon has become the heir to the large estate, that Gerald fled from as a youth. Simon is enticed there, where the family attempts to buy his acquiescence with offers of affluence.

 

One of the things I liked about this book is that the main characters are just genuinely nice. Simon is a nice kid – flawed, of course, as boys of 16 are, taken with the trappings of wealth, but his step-mother, Katherine, who is probably only 10 years his elder, is just such a generous and sensible person, and she has done such a fine job caring for him after his father died, that his ethics and integrity are well-grounded enough to withstand the pressure. The love interest, Alec (spoiler alert) is also a lovely man, a wealthy Scottish lawyer, not bothering to be jealous over Katherine’s past and the fact that she loved her husband. His proposal to her is simply touching.

 

‘Oh dear, I’d forgotten you were so rich! Everyone will say I’m marrying you for your money. All your friends will be sorry for you—have you thought of that, Alec?—they’ll say you’ve been caught by a designing widow with three——’

 

‘Let them say! I don’t care a tinker’s curse what anybody says—besides we’ll be married before “they” know anything at all about it. You don’t mind what people say, do you?’

 

‘I think I do—a little.’

 

‘Silly,’ said Alec, giving me a gentle squeeze.

 

‘Not silly,’ I told him. ‘I wish I had a little more money of my own. You’re marrying a beggar-woman, Alec.’

 

‘When we’re married I shall endow you “with all my worldly goods,” so you’ll be reasonably well off.’

 

‘I wish I had money of my own—now. For one thing I should like to be able to give you a really nice wedding present.’

 

‘You can,’ said Alec. ‘I want a half share in the children.’

 

There were tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I couldn’t speak.

 

‘I hope they’ll be pleased,’ continued Alec in doubtful tones. ‘It’s bound to be a bit of a shock to them—we must be prepared for that. You’ll have to watch them carefully; don’t let them brood about it and get all sorts of wrong ideas into their heads. Daisy and Denis will get used to it, if we give them plenty of time, but I’m worried about Simon.’

 

I’m pretty sure that this isn’t one of Stevenson’s better known offerings. It’s a small book, full of small moments, but it was a lovely thing to read on a quiet Saturday in October.