Anyway, all that said, a recent random grab from the large print section my local library was The Fair Miss Fortune by D.E. Stevenson.
Captain Charles Weatherby is home on extended leave from the army in India. He's been sent to a drinks party by his mother, even though he would really rather not go as he feels he's rather lost touch with all of his previous village friends. He's welcomed in by a childhood friend, Harold Prescott, whose new home is the venue for the party. Harold lives with his mother but has never left home, except that he and his mother moved from their cottage recently because of a new road being built. Charles discovers that the Prescotts' old cottage has been bought by a young lady, a Miss Jane Fortune, who plans to open tea rooms in the old place.
Eventually Charles meets her and ends up offering to help her knock the garden into shape so that she can use it for extra space for tables and chairs. He soon falls in love with the beautiful Jane. Unfortunately it isn't long before Harold Prescott also meets Jane and finds himself falling for her charms. But something isn't quite right. Jane acts in a very odd manner... encouraging one or the other and even, on occasion, seeming not to recognise either of them. What on earth is going on?
I think this could best be described as a charming romance. It reminded me strongly of the kind of story you used to come across in women's magazines like Woman's Realm or Woman's Weekly, back in the sixties and seventies. Except that there is a bit more to this as the writing is exquisite and the plot is quite convoluted. There is also a lovely vein of humour running through the story, mainly associated with some spot-on observations of how people behave. Rampant gossiping and subsequent exaggeration and the trouble that enues for instance. There's one family that never stops rowing and even continues to do so when they have visitors. And Harold's awful mother is drawn with great skill and keen insight. I liked the twist... which the reader knows about of course but the characters in the story do not.
The whole thing was just a joy to be honest. An easy going, charming sort of comedy of manners. I gather it was not published in the 1930s because it was considered too old-fashioned. Bizarre. To me it felt very 1950s so how they could have thought it was old-fashioned in the 1930s is beyond me. But anyway, it looks like it had to wait for 2011 to be published... I think I even read somewhere that it was rediscovered in an attic, though I may well have dreamt that. And now I really will see what else I can find to read by D.E. Stevenson and actually read it.
The Fair Miss Fortune is my book seven for Peggy's Read Scotland 2014 challenge.