Katherine Wentworth. The calm dignity of the protagonist, the stark beauty of the Scottish countryside, the stalwart friendship of Alec, and the gentle kindnesses of the minor characters all joined together to make a refreshing tonic for my tired heart. Underneath it all is a current of quiet happiness that I found irresistible.
Katherine is a widow raising three children. She's come through the heartache of losing her husband and has learned to be independent and self-sufficient. She is strong, yet insecure enough to be believable. When a new man comes into her life, however, she isn't the least bit interested in matrimony.
As I read, I was reminded of C.S. Lewis' assertion that we are most truly ourselves when we forget ourselves. The most likable characters in the novel are those who lack self-consciousness: the twins, Mrs. RacRam (the cook/housekeeper), the vicar and his wife, Katherine and Alec.The unpleasant people are those who are tied up in knots over their own happiness (or lack thereof).
It was rewarding to see how the sensible characters interacted with the difficult ones. One of the themes is the folly of riches as a means of happiness. Several Wentworth family members are suffering under the burden of wealth because they have nothing meaningful to do with their lives. Katherine, on the other hand, is struggling to raise the children on a limited budget, but finds joy in it.
In addition to the fine writing and good storytelling, I enjoyed the literary references from the Bible, King Lear, Robert Burn's, and Pilgrim's Progress. I enjoyed this book so much that I read the sequel, Katherine's Marriage, in one gulp.