The Young Clementina

The Young Clementina

by D.E. Stevenson


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Love, Loss, and Love Again...

Charlotte Dean enjoys nothing more than the solitude of her London flat and the monotonous days of her work at a travel bookshop. But when her younger sister unceremoniously bursts into her quiet life one afternoon, Charlotte's world turns topsy-turvy.

Beloved author D.E. Stevenson captures the intricacies of post-World War I England with a light, comic touch that perfectly embodies the spirit of the time. Alternatively heartbreaking and witty, The Young Clementina is a touch tale of love, loss, and redemption through friendship.

The Young Clementina is another heartwarming tale from D.E. Stevenson, beloved author of Miss Buncle's Book

Readers love The Young Clementina:

"Immensely enjoyable. As usual when I finish a novel by D.E. Stevenson, I cannot wipe the happy contented smile off my face."

"A heartwarming story of love, lost and found...Lots of tears and happiness."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402274718
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 07/02/2013
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 351,874
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

D.E. Stevenson (1892-1973) had an enormously successful writing career; between 1923 and 1970, four million copies of her books were sold in Britain and three million in the United States.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
A Bunch of Country Flowers

I wonder how a hermit would feel if he had spent twelve years in his cell and were called back to the world to take up the burden of life with its griefs and worries and fears; if he had passed through the fire of rebellion and achieved resignation; if his flesh had been purged by sleepless nights and his mind had found the anodyne of regular daily work. Would he feel afraid of the world, afraid of the pain awaiting him, afraid of his own inadequacy to deal with his fellow men after his long, long years of solitude? Would he refuse to listen when the world called, when his conscience whispered that his duty lay outside his cell, or would he gird up his loins and go forth, somewhat reluctantly, into the world which had turned its back upon him for twelve years?

My mythical hermit is standing at the parting of the ways, and so am I. Two roads are open to me, one lonely but well known, peaceful and uneventful; the other full of dangers and difficulties which I cannot foresee. Do what I like I cannot determine which road to take. There is a fog in my brain which clogs its working and prevents me from weighing the points at issue. I have tried to think out my problem for days-and nights-without getting any nearer a solution of my difficulties. Let me try to write it out for a change.

The idea of writing down one's difficulties and perplexities is not a new one. Great men have found it valuable in clearing their minds and helping them to wise and deliberate judgment-why shouldn't I, in my smaller way, find a solution to my difficulties in the same manner? My mind needs clearing, God knows, and if pen and paper will help me to clear it, I shall not grudge the time or the labor involved.


Having got thus far I sat down at my bureau and reached for my pen. Where should I begin? The roots of the matter lay buried thirty years deep-or very nearly so. Should I start in the present and go backward, digging up pieces of the past as I required them, or should I start in the time-honored manner with my birth in Hinkleton Parsonage on a cold, wet, windy night in the autumn of 1895? The first method seemed full of pitfalls, and the second a weariness of the flesh. My soul turned from the labor of writing with sick disgust.

And then, quite suddenly, I saw the way to do it-an idea came to me which simplified everything and made the labor of writing a pleasure; and, just as a duster, with a dash of methylated spirit, clears a dusty window, so my view was clarified. One moment the window was obscured and I could not see through it, and the next moment it was crystal clear and I was looking out at the winding paths of my life.

The idea which came to me was this, that I should write my whole story for you, and then, since you will never read it, I should read it with your eyes, and give myself your advice. I knew that it would be a pleasure to write for you. I have often wanted to pour my troubles into your sympathetic ear, and here was the opportunity, here was the excuse. The words would flow out of my pen easily, confidently, I need not hesitate to wonder whether you would understand, nor to change a sentence lest you should read it amiss, for you are one of the understanding ones, my dear, and the milk of human kindness is in your heart.

You do not remember me, of course-how could you remember-since the only time I ever saw you was three years ago, riding down Piccadilly on the top of a bus. What was there for you to remember-a tall, gawky woman, a woman with long limbs and a lean, tired face? A woman neither young nor old, with gray eyes and crinkly brown hair. She was dressed in a shabby black coat and skirt and a dark red hat of the coal-heaver type, which happened to have just gone out of fashion at the time. Did you see this woman? You looked at her, of course, you smiled at her, you even spoke to her in a curiously deep voice. You thanked the shabby stranger for rescuing a bunch of wild flowers which had fallen under the seat and you said, somewhat apologetically, "I am taking them to a country woman who lives in a basement. She likes country flowers best, you see."

There was meadow-sweet in the bunch, and dog-roses, and ox-eye daisies, and a host of other flowers which country children pick in the meadows and the hedges about their homes-country children with rosy faces and tangled hair.

I realized at once that you understand things; you were of the understanding kind. You were prosperous, that was obvious from the clothes you wore. (Your coat and skirt of navy blue flannel was plain but well cut, your black hat was perfect in its crisp line, your shoes and stockings, your gloves, your bag, the orange silk scarf twisted carelessly round your neck were all good, carefully chosen, the best of their kind. I noticed the soft wave of your dark hair and the smooth, well-tended texture of your slightly tanned skin). You were prosperous and comfortable, your life was a life of ease, but you still understood the feelings of those less fortunate than yourself, you still cared to understand.

How much easier it would have been for you to buy flowers in London for that woman you were going to see-how much easier than picking them yourself in the fields and meadows which lay about your pleasant country home and carrying them up to town in the train and the bus! You didn't do the easier thing; you did the thing that would give the more pleasure. All this flashed through my mind in a moment. Almost before you had finished speaking I saw you in the fields, picking those flowers to take to town for the country woman who lived in a basement. I had settled you in the country in a beautiful house, I had given you a park full of old trees casting grateful shadows on the thick grass, I had given you a rose garden with a sundial, I had given you a husband, horses, cars, dogs.

I buried my face in the sweetness of the country flowers before I handed them back to you.

"She will love them," I said.

"You don't think they will make her homesick?" you asked, raising your dark eyebrows a trifle, and looking at me anxiously out of your night-blue eyes.

"They may," I told you. "They have made me homesick, you see. But it was worth it."

"Pain is worthwhile sometimes," you said.

We looked at each other gravely (I wonder if you remember), I knew that we could become friends-we were friends already, I knew that we could talk to each other about things that mattered, not always agreeing perhaps, but always understanding and appreciating each other's views. I knew that we could be silent together without discomfort, sitting over the fire and dreaming, letting a few words fall and then lapsing into more dreams. I knew-from that little quiver at the corner of your mouth-that we would see the same jokes, the tiny droll incidents which defy you to put them into words so delicate and evanescent they are.

Could I ask you your name, or tell you mine? Would you think me mad, a woman you had met for a few moments on the top of a bus, with whom you had exchanged a dozen words? I couldn't do it, of course. I was too shy, too bound by the conventions of the civilized world (were you too shy, or didn't you care?). I was too shy to ask you your name, and so I let you go. You smiled at me as you went. I never saw you again.

I never saw you again-what made me write those words? False words they are, false and misleading. You have been with me every day, you have shared all my jokes, you have read with me in the evenings and exchanged thoughts and criticisms. You have walked with me in the park, and had tea with me in my tiny sitting room. We have sat over the fire together talking of the past and surmising about the future. You are my only real friend, you see, the only woman friend I have ever had. I had always longed for a friend, a woman friend of my own generation, wise and witty and tender.

Of course I know that you have forgotten me long ago, you are not lonely like I am. You have a husband to share your life, a house to care for, a garden to enjoy, perhaps you have children. You would think it crazy that a woman you met three years ago for ten minutes should think of you as her greatest friend, but you would not grudge me the consolation of your shadowy presence if you knew what it meant to me.

Just one thing more before I begin my story-I have always called you Clare. I never knew anybody called Clare, but I love the name and it seemed to suit you. I had to have a name to call you when I needed you. "Clare!" and there you are, sitting in my shabby old chair, smiling at me and waiting for me to begin.

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Young Clementina 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
2ndlady More than 1 year ago
I've concluded that I have an affinity to stories about not-so-young-but-still-young women who are suffering from spinsterhood :) ...but who are also on their way to find self-realization and autonomy. (This book somehow reminded me a bit of L.M. Montgomery's "Blue Castle".) As with "Miss Buncle's Book", D.E. Stevenson's writing is delightful, and I suffered alongside Char in her resignation to her stifled life. The characters perhaps tend toward caricatures (I particularly had a hard time putting the two faces of Garth into one person), but they are delightful types nonetheless. On a rational level, some turns in the plot I didn't find very convincing and rather predictable, and I would've loved to have had just *one* more chapter, to clear up some unexplained points and to read about what happened afterwards (a kind of epilogue).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Words cannot describe how much I love this novel. If you are a fan of British classic romances, where a kiss was scandalous, you too will enjoy this darling little book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An autor who can grab your attention quick and hold it. Ive enjoyed all her books i have read thus far.
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Boofie More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down and read until I finished at 2:36 am... Great read. I bit pradictable for me, but and good at guessing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago