|Mrs. Lorimer's Quiet Summer
by Molly ClaveringRating: ★★★½Publication Date: January 1, 1953Genre: fictionPages:
The two were friends and had been for many years before Miss Douglas, a little battered by war experiences, had settled down in Threipford, to Mrs. Lorimer's quiet content. ... Both wrote; each admired the other's work. Lucy possessed what Gray knew she herself would never have, a quality which for want of a better name she called "saleability."
In what is surely Molly Clavering's most autobiographical novel, two middle-aged women writers, close friends and neighbours, offer one another advice and support while navigating life in a lively Border village. Lucy Lorimer, the more successful author, with her four children, in-laws, and grandchildren gathered for a summer reunion, must try to avert disaster in one daughter's marriage, help a daughter-in-law restless with mundane married life after flying planes in the war, and deal with the awkward reappearance of an old flame. Unmarried Grace ('Gray') Douglas, meanwhile, has struggles of her own, but is drawn delightfully into her friend's difficulties.
In real life, Molly Clavering was herself for many years a neighbour and close friend of bestselling author D.E. Stevenson. First published in 1953, Mrs. Lorimer's Quiet Summer is not only an irresistible family story, but undoubtedly provides some indication of the inspiring friendship between these two brilliantly talented women. This new edition includes an introduction by Elizabeth Crawford.
I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate the Dean Street Press and their Furrowed Middlebrow imprint. There isn’t a single one of their reprints that doesn’t look absolutely terrific to me. Some of them appeal more strongly than others, but I could put them in a randomizer, and I’d read whatever popped up (in fact, this is an idea that I may implement).
This is a very quiet book. Molly Clavering was, as I understand it, neighbors and friends with D.E. Stevenson, another author that I enjoy. This is one of those mid-century books written by English women in which nothing really happens, but which is still deeply satisfying, with scenes of village life and the Scottish landscape.
The title is, of course, very tongue-in-cheek, because Mrs. Lorimer’s summer is anything but quiet. She and her husband are empty-nesters with four children, some of whom have spouses and children of their own. During the summer, all four of the children come home, not merely for a visit, but because there is some crisis in their lives that they have to solve. Mrs. Lorimer doesn’t do the solving for them, but home is a catalyst to put things in order that have come a bit undone.
There’s no murders, no mayhem, no real mysteries to solve. Nonetheless, there are conflicts and tensions that arise, and small family travails that need to be resolved. As in life.