Tuesday, May 25, 2021

"Summerhills" by D.E. Stevenson

My D.E. Stevenson online fan group is just starting to read and discuss "Summerhills" -- a sequel to "Amberwell," which we read last year (reviewed here and here -- and I would definitely recommend reading that book first). I usually read the book through once myself in advance of our chapter-by-chapter discussions, and then count it again as a re-read once we're done. 

It's several years post-WWII (late 1940s), and Major Roger Ayrton is heading home to Amberwell on the west coast of Scotland on a few weeks' leave to see his family -- including his 8-year-old son Stephen; his half-sister Nell, who has has mothered Stephen and held Amberwell and the rest of the family together during the war and since; and his youngest half-sister Anne, who now keeps house nearby for the elderly parish rector.  

It's almost time to send Stephen off to school, but Roger has a plan for that -- one that will keep Stephen closer to home. While he's at Amberwell, he wants to find a nearby property to purchase with his late wife's money, turn it into a school that Stephen and other local boys can attend, and hire his childhood friend Arnold Maddon as headmaster. Another childhood playmate, Mary Findlater, suggests her aging parents' huge, empty home would be the perfect place, and also proposes a new name for the school: Summerhills. 

Roger's eldest half-sister Connie and her badly behaved children make an appearance -- but sadly, we only hear about globetrotting brother Tom through other people's comments and memories. But Tom's friend Dennis returns to Amberwell for a visit, still carrying a secret torch for Nell...  

I loved "Amberwell" and rated it four (4) stars on Goodreads.  Overall, I think it's the better novel of the two. But I was very happy to revisit the Ayrton family and see a few loose ends from the first book tied up nicely. 

3.5 stars on Goodreads, rounded up to 4.  

This was Book #31 read to date in 2021 (and Book #8 finished in May), bringing me to 86% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 17 (!) books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books." 

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