Monday, November 05, 2018

Katherine's Marriage / The Marriage of Katherine by DE Stevenson: Some Notes

I was so pleased to find that there was a sequel to 
Katherine Wentworth by DE Stevenson
which is a book about a woman who is a widow
with a stepson and biological twins.
The description of her struggle to make ends meet, as they say,
the exhaustion, worry and toil of having very little
but making it work very well for her children,
is very real, moving and her movement towards life
and her way out of what could be said 'a very bad time of it' in simple
English by the English, that is, a deep loss, grief, depression
with the overwhelming work of poverty, 
is not only striking but worth re-reading for instructions on how to live
in the most difficult of circumstances. 
DE Stevenson writes 'romances' so PR says and 'light novels' so my 
copy of The Marriage of Katherine, or as my copy says, Katherine's Marriage,
By the end of the first book one sees a woman exhausted by her 
circumstances being given care and having a holiday where she
is given a deep physical/emotional/mental rest that to me is the theme of the book.
The second book is of her marriage and has moving descriptions of
the Scotland and includes a very well written passage that involves
the death of a person is very rich but utterly without love or loved
and the reaction of Mr. MacLaren, with his words about the Lord
and of hope for his soul because of God's mercy. 
While I did not fully agree with it, in that Stevenson seemed to be
in line with George MacDonald who did not allow his characters
the option of hell (see Alec Forbes of Howglen
which to me makes free will that God gives us of little use,
it takes away mystery and frankly the Gospel and words of Christ.
How nice it would be though, if one is given a chance to learn after
death, a chance to repent but it does not seem that the Church
traditionally teaches that.
I would say though that this book has great worth in those few pages about this
and that I could only wish I would have seen this carried out further in the novel but nonetheless
it is not something one would expect in a 'light novel' or 'romance' which to me points to 
the idiocity of how books are advertised; Elizabeth Goudge, a master at novels
that give not only striking pictures of Christian life, Christian struggle, instructions on how
to live in great sickness or in a difficult marriage, or when one finds oneself single,
but she is, at least in the past with PR in charge, seen as a 'romance novelist' which to me,
with the cheapening of such words, is a laughable untruth as her books are 
rich with description, inwards struggles and the struggles of her age (esp the wars) and 
the ramifications of her time.  That both Goudge and Stevenson write comedies,
as in that which can be seen with a 'happy' ending is true.
I enjoyed very much Katherine's Marriage though I felt the book a bit too short,
as in it was wrapped up too quickly without enough of Katherine at the end, 
or even of the man who died, whose funeral we are going towards...
I would have liked more of it, though this is not what is given.
In this book there is also a turn, a profound healing of her step-son that is 
deeply Christian as it has to do with the love required towards others and God.
And the portrayal of Scottish persons, from those far-out in the countryside 
tending sheep, the poverty of a large land owner, a gentleman with a ruined castle, 
it gives a picture much clearer of what a good gentleman (meaning one with land)
looked like, something with all of the meaningless English lit theory of
'post-modern' times ignores - that there is noblesse oblige that in some was 
very real and really lived out, in honour and dignity.
I am very glad that more DE Stevenson is being republished and can only wish
that ALL of her books will, in time, be republished, as they are 
worth reading and I would say are NOT merely 'light novels' but novels
that are comedies, with jewels in them often tucked in the stories that 
have comedy in them because they are Christian not because they 
have all characters with happy endings or even books that are simple.
Stevenson, I would say, is wide-ranging in scope of her novels,
her Mrs Tim books, at least the first, being quite different that the 2 novels
I just described to you here, but also worth reading.


Lisa said...

I so agree with you about Eliz. Goudge - I recently loaned a book of hers to a friend, and told her to "ignore the cover"! It was so trite, and the book is so deep.

GretchenJoanna said...

I have heard of D.E. Stevenson for a long time but haven't opened a book yet. You are making me more curious!

elizabeth said...

Lisa, yes!! exactly!

G_J I would esp look for her Listening Valley, one of her best I think, though she has many good ones!