One of the side benefits of being on the D.E. Stevenson list is that when someone offers a book that she or he no longer needs -- not, mind you, that she no longer wants, because most of the books that go up-for-grabs are duplicates in someone's collection -- you can come across something that you might never have known about otherwise.
Someone found a copy of this at a book sale and bought it for 25 cents, and offered it up on the list because she not only had enjoyed reading it herself but because the author, Molly Clavering, was a contemporary of D.E. Stevenson's as well as a fellow resident of Moffat and a novelist. This particular novel, Mrs. Lorimer's Family (1953), is rumored to have been based on Stevenson herself. Well, all of this was intriguing enough for me to put my name in, and as I happened to be the only one on the list who did so, I received it in the mail less than a week later.
This is of course the only one of Clavering's novels that I have read, but I can certainly see the similarities to Stevenson's, from the very first pages. It is character-centered, a blend of humor and seriousness, quiet and gentle, and with comfortable predictability all comes right in the end. I could find only a very few bits of information about Clavering on the internet, one being this summary of Mrs. Lorimer's Family, almost certainly the publisher's blurb: "With the straightforward warmth of a friendly handclasp, this appealing novel draws you into the very heart of a delightful family circle. Here you will share with a wise, gentle mother the conflicts and discoveries, the decisions and triumphs of her engaging but constantly surprising brood. For this is a novel, as perceptive as it is tender, of the parental concerns, the young-married difficulties, the romantic entanglements that are so fundamental a part of day-to-day living everywhere. With all but one of the children married and living away from home, Mrs. Lorimer and the Colonel look forward to gathering them together for a summer reunion at their comfortable country place. But as the children arrive, Mrs. Lorimer begins to see beneath the gaiety of homecoming the urgent personal problems each has been unable to leave behind. Phillis's marriage is being threatened by a critical misunderstanding; Tom and his gifted wife Mary are anxiously trying to work out a tricky compromise; quiet Alice, who appears to be the most content and safe, brings about an unexpected crisis. And Guy, the unmarried one, whose laughter bravely conceals a broken heart, seems bent on risking the perils of falling in love again -- and with, of all people, a spirited newcomer who has some curious ideas of her own about romance!"
I can see why Stevenson's children were apparently somewhat dismayed by the novel -- the children don't come off especially well at times, especially Phillis -- who often acts like a spoiled little girl -- and Colonel Lorimer walks a fine line between being endearingly eccentric and exasperating. Still, I found the wit quietly witty, the wisdom gentle enough not to be sententious, and the characters deftly drawn -- certainly worth picking up for pennies if you happen to come across a copy at a book sale.
Most of the things I did manage to find about Clavering were bibliographic -- she looks from the dates of other works to have been a fairly close contemporary of Stevenson's (who was 1892-1973), but I could not even find dates for Clavering online. Here is a list of some at least of her works, culled from the ever-useful WorldCat:
Georgina and the stairs, 1927
The leech of life, 1928
Mrs Lorimer’s quiet summer, 1953
Mrs Lorimer’s family, 1953 [possibly a retitle of Mrs Lorimer’s quiet summer?]
From the Border hills, 1953
Because of Sam, 1954
Dear Hugo, 1955
Near neighbours, 1956
Result of the finals, 1957
Dr Glasgow’s family, 1960
Spring adventure, 1962
(The dust-jacket is, I think, yet another example of how different one's own mental picture of a person in a book can be from someone else's. The lady here is I'm sure a very nice person, but she does not look at all like I picture Mrs. Lorimer -- far too jolly. Too American, in fact. Too brisk and efficient, perhaps. This lady does not write "quiet workmanlike novels, redeemed from any suggestion of the commonplace by their agreeably astringent humor and lack of sentimentality," and she certainly does not go off on flights of fancy which she frequently finds herself continuing out loud!)
I made some origami bookmarks to send to the lady who gave me the book, as a thank-you. Here's how you do it:
Lay a piece of origami paper colored-side down, with the points making a diamond.
Fold the south point up to the north, and crease firmly.
Fold the east point up to the north and crease firmly, then unfold. Repeat with the west point.
Fold one of the two north points down to the middle of the long crease at the bottom edge.
Fold the east point over to meet the folded-down point along the bottom edge; crease lightly and unfold. Repeat with the west point. (This is only to help with the next step, which you will crease more firmly when it is in position.)
Tuck the east point into the "pocket". Repeat with the west point.
Crease all folds very firmly to make the bookmark as thin as possible. (You can fold the remaining north point into the pocket as well, but this will make the bookmark thicker.)