Green Money by D.E. Stevenson
This is a gentle comedy featuring some genuinely funny characters, some of whose innocence nearly proves their downfall. First published in 1939, this book is now available in various formats from the Furrowed Middlebrow and Dean Street Press as part of their excellent reprint series. It is a novel of its time – set well after the First World War but with memories for some of past friendships forged in difficult circumstances, and written before the shadow of a new catastrophe overcame everyone. The main character is a young man, George Ferrier, who is delightful in his optimism and good nature. Those around him who have an impact on his life can find no malice in him; he simply just wants everyone to be happy. His ability to have adventures is wonderful, as he rescues, restores and tries his hardest to do the right thing. Fortunately he has his unpredictable Irish mother Paddy and his quiet and thoughtful father firmly on his side, who support his endeavours even when they are not sure what he is doing. As the quiet theme of romance continues beneath the surface, George must deal with many challenges – and his good humour makes for excellent reading. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this very enjoyable book.
The novel is mainly concerned with George’s surprise assumption of a responsibility that he calmly expects not to be too onerous in the short term. While coming to the end of a short holiday in London, he accidentally encounters a man who proves to be an old comrade of his father. Mr Green is much taken with the young man, and immediately declares that he is the ideal person to be a trustee, in the event of his death, for his daughter Elma. Elma proves to have lived a very sheltered life with a memorable governess, Miss Wilson, who is habitually “full of the most frightful forebodings”. Not that there is any question of George having to assume any responsibility for her soon; Mr Green, who is very wealthy, intends to live for some time. When he does indeed die suddenly, George is cheered by the £500 he looks to gain, but daunted by the businessman who assure him that they will handle all financial matters for the estate. Not that George wants the money for himself, as he speedily buys a present for his much loved mother. Unable to shake the convention that some sharp practice is depriving the estate of some money, he decides to introduce himself to Elma and serve her best interests in person. As he makes her known to his good friend Peter and his sister Cathy, there begins a build up of drama that will have its very funny moments.
The plot of this book has elements of farce in its misunderstandings, activities and events, and its tremendous set of characters who are variously determined, laid back, accepting, naive, anxious and always entertaining. The settings, from the slightly bewildering streets of London to a green countryside of horses, dogs and walks are beautifully written, but there is a standout trick of describing a hotel from its own prospectus, where everything is of the best. It is undoubtedly the characters which make this book become truly alive; relatable, amusing and always entertaining. This is a book that I greatly enjoyed and really recommend to anyone who enjoys a read from a slightly different time with characters we may well recognise from our own experience.