English Summer Garden
I was never a romance novel reader. I was brought up to believe that they were nothing but fluff and trash (mostly true). As someone who studied literature in college, this is dark confession time, but I have found one (and only one unless you count Jane Austen)romance author that I just love. The first book I found of hers was at my local library and I enjoyed it so much that whenever I come across another of her books, I snatch it up. I've found a few at yard sales and "friends of the library" sales. Most that I have found were published in the 70s.
The author's name is Betty Neels and this is the biography from the back of one of her books.
Betty Neels spent her childhood and youth in Devonshire before training as a nurse and midwife. She was an army nursing sister during the war, married a Dutchman and subsequently lived in Holland for fourteen years. Betty started to write on retirement from nursing, incited by a lady in a library bemoaning the lack of romantic novels. Betty Neels has sold over 35 million copies of her books worldwide.
Obviously "the war" they are referring to here was World War II.
Her novels are very British. After reading them, I have decided that I need an Aga and that a cup of tea will cure any ill. :) So far every one that I have read has been set either in England, Scotland, or Holland. They are also very sweet and chaste. There is nothing that I wouldn't want one of my daughters to read.
I love to pick up one of these books when I'm feeling unfocused or tired and just don't want to read anything "hard". They're wonderful little "pick-me-ups".
Here are some snippets from "Roses For Christmas" which I just finished. It was published in 1976.
"The loft was warm, dusty and redolent of apples; the autumn sunshine peeping through its one dusty window tinted the odds and ends hanging on the walls with a golden light, so that the strings of onions, cast-off skates, old raincoats, lengths of rope, worn-out leather straps and an old hat or two had acquired a gilded patina. Most of the bare floor was taken up with orderly rows of apples, arranged according to their kind, but there was still space enough left for the girl sitting in the centre, a half-eaten apple in one hand, the other buried in the old hat box beside her."
"The cosy homeliness of the manse where her parents and five brothers and sisters lived in the tiny village on the northernmost coast of Scotland was bliss. It was only a pity that on this particular week's holiday, both her elder brothers, James and Donald, should be away from home, leaving Henry, the youngest and only eight years old, recovering from chickenpox, with no one to amuse him but herself. She doted on him, but they had been fishing all the morning, and after lunch had been cleared away she had gone to the loft for an hour's peace before getting the tea, and now here he was again, no doubt with some boyish scheme or other which would probably entail climbing trees or walking miles looking for seashells."
"The sitting room they entered wasn't large, but its heterogeneous mixture of unassuming antiques and comfortable, shabby armchairs, handmade rugs and bookshelves rendered it pleasant enough. It had two occupants: Eleanor's mother, a small, pretty woman, very neatly dressed, and her father, a good deal older than his wife, with thick white hair and bright blue eyes in a rugged face. He was in elderly grey tweeds and only his dog collar proclaimed his profession."
I just love the scenes she sets. There is always a good sense of home and family in her books.