Amberwell when it was listed for 99 cents last week.
The novel begins with five children being brought up on the family estate of Amberwell. Their life seems idyllic. But as time goes on we see how terribly neglected they are by their parents and how hungry they all are for love. As World War II arrives, each goes their own way, some making poor choices, some suffering through no fault of their own. All of them grow. In spite of the episodes of heartache, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's been the first time in ages that I've read a book in "one gulp."
One of the themes of the book is the gardens. Each owner of the home wants to improve its grounds, but only for show. The children love the place for itself and treasure the weeds as much as the finely manicured lawns. This joy in living is coupled with another theme, the joy of serving. Those who truly love Amberwell are willing to make the sacrifices to keep it running. And they are the only truly happy ones.
Not all Stevenson books are created equal. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the Miss Buncle series, and have heard raves about the Mrs. Tim books, some of the other titles have fallen into obscurity for a reason. The Gerald and Elizabeth books were just "okay."
Amberwell is the first in the Ayrton Family trilogy. Book two is Summerhills. And the third book is called Still Glides the Stream.