A reprint of a 1937 autobiography by the stepdaughter of Robert Louis Stevenson, enhanced by an editor's introduction, explanatory footnotes and an editor's epilogue.
Born in Indianapolis in 1858, Field carried vivid memories of her childhood late into her life. Her acute memory, bolstered by her natural storytelling ability, renders a rather unexceptional childhood in Indiana and California interesting to readers more than a century later. She also discusses her first marriage and the birth of her son Austin, who would become a successful playwright. Much of the rest of the memoir is set in Hawaii and Samoa, where Field lived with family members. In 1876, when Field was 18, her mother Fanny met Robert Louis Stevenson in the French town of Grez, and Fanny and the soon-to-be-famous author married in 1880. The next year, Stevenson published his masterpiece, Treasure Island. In short order, three more beloved books would follow: Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Black Arrow. In 1894, the congenitally unhealthy Stevenson died at the age of 44. Though Field lived for another five decades, she ends her memoir in the year of Stevenson’s death, saying nothing of her second marriage, her mother’s death or her own considerable wealth, a portion of which came from inheritance.
Though the droll tone sometimes dampens the effect, her joy for life is omnipresent, and her memoir timeless in its unpretentious presentation of the quotidian, both in her own life and in the life of one of literature’s most beloved authors.