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Listening Valley (1944)

by D. E. Stevenson

Series: Ryddleton (2)

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2056132,142 (4.11)32
"Nothing will stop Tonia from finding a home of her own. Tonia has lived all her life in the quiet Scottish countryside and can't imagine herself anywhere else. But when her beloved older sister gets married and moves away, Tonia begins to wonder if there aren't bigger things on the horizon for her too. The advent of World War II brings Tonia briefly to the heart of London, where the roar of fighter planes echoes through the night and bombings are a constant threat--but just as she's settling into her new life, a heart-breaking tragedy sends her back home to Scotland. With new friends by her side, Tonia thinks she may have finally found the place where she is supposed to be. But the war interferes again with her plans, and she fears that the person she loves most may be lost to her forever"--Provided by publisher.… (more)
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» See also 32 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
A meandering sort of story, about Tonia's childhood, her eventual escape from her parents' house and her experiences during WWII - especially after she inherits her family's house in a Scottish town.

It reminded me, especially at first, of L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. Tonia is neglected by her parents and escapes into daydreams.
However, Tonia grows up with the love and support of her older sister and their Nannie. (There are some other similarities, and some other differences, too.)

I was surprised by how bittersweet The Listening Valley is. The last book of D.E. Stevenson's that I had read had also been set and written during WWII, but I felt that The Two Mrs. Abbotts (1943) dealt with the war in an oddly light-hearted fashion, "focus[ing] more on the everyday interactions of people in a community, rather than worrying about those who have gone to war".

In contrast, The Listening Valley has a real sense of uncertainty - there's a happy ending, but no one is sure how long that happiness is going to last, or when the war will end.

But if only the war could end, thought Tonia, pressing her hands against the rough, wet surface of the weathered wood. If only something could happen now, this very minute, so that the war would be over and all the misery of it; so that you could enjoy the beauty of the world without this burden of sadness, this racking anxiety that turned your bones to water; so that you could go to bed and sleep in peace without wondering how many splendid men had been killed today, and how many more would meet their deaths tonight, and how many mothers and wives would be carrying hearts of lead in their bosoms.

There's something very comforting about D.E. Stevenson's writing. ( )
  Herenya | Mar 31, 2016 |
This is the 46th D. E. Stevenson book that I've read. It was very good, and I wish I'd found it years ago. I wasn't entirely satisfied with the ending, as I felt there was one issue in particular that should have been resolved. Most of the characters were very likeable, except for the unpleasant ones, who were very unpleasant.

But the jacket flap! It had one of the worst blurbs I've ever read. Not because it was misleading—oh, no, it certainly wasn't misleading. It told exactly what was going to happen. Beginning, middle, and end. It was all there. ( )
  SylviaC | Jan 21, 2016 |
D.E. Stevenson can simultaneously break your heart and lift your spirits. The humble and quiet heroine of this book might be my favorite character of hers yet. A story of human truths and frailties and sweetness without any sex or saccharine. Sublime. ( )
  libbromus | Oct 6, 2015 |
This was a sweet story. I'm pleased it's being re-released. I thought this would be a story of two sisters, one gregarious the other very quiet, but it focused on the quietly timid sister. The story wasn't utterly predictable which was a pleasant surprise. The characters were very likable and led interesting lives. ( )
  NickiSlater | Feb 14, 2015 |
I found this one a little slow at the start, but once Tonia found her love and then got her own home I just fell into the book. I loved the atmosphere and the characters. I enjoyed the sweetness. I will keep looking for more by this author. I hope publishers will continue rereleasing her older titles. My other favorites of hers have been Mrs. Tim and Miss Buncle. I know there are others I should try. ( )
  njcur | Feb 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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Most people, looking back at their childhood, see it as a misty country half-forgotten or only to be remembered through an evocative sound or scent, but some episodes of those short years remain clear and brightly coloured like a landscape seen through the wrong end of a telescope.
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"Nothing will stop Tonia from finding a home of her own. Tonia has lived all her life in the quiet Scottish countryside and can't imagine herself anywhere else. But when her beloved older sister gets married and moves away, Tonia begins to wonder if there aren't bigger things on the horizon for her too. The advent of World War II brings Tonia briefly to the heart of London, where the roar of fighter planes echoes through the night and bombings are a constant threat--but just as she's settling into her new life, a heart-breaking tragedy sends her back home to Scotland. With new friends by her side, Tonia thinks she may have finally found the place where she is supposed to be. But the war interferes again with her plans, and she fears that the person she loves most may be lost to her forever"--Provided by publisher.

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Antonia Melville was fragile and shy as an adolescent - overshadowed by a beloved and adventurous sister, she often found contentment by slipping into the 'listening valley' of her imagination. How Antonia emerges from her private cocoon is the subject of this engaging novel, one of D.E. Stevenson's best. A companion piece to Celia's House, Listening Valley follows Antonia from sheltered childhood to the joyous serenity she attains as a young woman. ... (from Holt, Rinehart & Winston blurb)
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