Miss Buncle, #1
D. E. Stevenson (1892 – 1973)
Sourcebooks, Nov 2012, 1934(original)
Kindle, 305 Pages
Also available in hardcover, paperback, audio CD
Genre(s) Women’s Lit
Source purchased at the current price
Other books in this series
Miss Buncle Married, The Two Mrs. Abbotts, The Four Graces
I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review
What it’s about…
Miss Barbara Buncle is a spinster living with her once-nanny-then maid, now maid-housekeeper-cook Dorcas in Silverstream. Finances are a bit slim and even though most of her village neighbors consider her a woman of rather slim intelligence, Miss Buncle comes up with a creative way of making some money to help out the budget.
It’s a secret. Dorcas is sworn to keep it, but she has to know about it because she’s the provider of strong coffee for Miss Buncle. You see, Miss Buncle is writing a book and she does her writing at night. She doesn’t have a lot of imagination, so she writes what she knows. More to the point, she writes who she knows. And therein lies the trouble.
When Miss Buncle’s book is accepted and printed, the village of Silverstream is in an uproar over who this “John Smith” could be who knows them all so well…
The cover is an absolute stunner. This is why I bought the book in the first place! I saw that cover and loved the style, the colors, the artwork. The whole thing appealed to me and drew me in immediately.
The storyline is wonderful and absolutely original as far as I know. I’ve never read one quite like it. I’m sure there are about a dozen of you who can name a book with this same storyline right now, but I’ve never run into one before.
The characters are the book. D. E. Stevenson wrote this book about Miss Buncle writing a book about her fellow villagers, so it’s all about its characters. Each character is introduced and then we learn more and more about them from their fellow villagers and from their own actions and statements. It’s incredible!
The pace is variable and right on the ball. There are times when you feel like you’re just strolling through the village and then there are times you feel you have just run the length of the village twice without stopping. But then there are times to take tea and sit and listen to the gossip – that’s called doing research for the next book. And there are times to get the packers here and gone and the sign on the fence – that’s called leaving town before the hanging committee comes calling.
The tension is unstoppable once it starts to build. At first, it’s just a spinster fussing over her finances. But once the book hits the shelves, it’s a whole lot more than fussing.
And this is where you STOP if you don’t want to see any SPOILERS…
The good, the bad, and the ugly…and how much it lit up my life… ✰✰✰✰✰
May I please give this book more stars? I want to decorate it all over with stars! I immediately bought the next book to read. I wish it wasn’t coming on to Christmas so I could read it right away! I may have to squeeze it in on a weekend when it’s quiet and I can find some extra reading time. I’m really hoping the whole series is like this. Written back in the early 30s, I didn’t expect this at all. But why? Did I expect poor quality writing? I certainly shouldn’t have. If anything, I probably should have expected a higher standard. And that’s what is in this book. The writing is lovely! No missed words or extra words or incorrect usage. The style is solid and so well-done, it’s a real pleasure to read. I read everything in e-book these days, I’m sure you’ve heard me remark. But this one makes me want to have it in hardcover.
This was a really fun read because of the word association Miss Buncle used to change names when she wrote her book. But the poor dear was always worried that she would be found out or wanting to confess or take credit. And when those idiot villagers under Mrs. Featherstone-Hogg actually kidnapped the twins and held them for the ransom of Sarah’s signature because they had decided she had written the book, she was ready to shout it from the pulpit in the church! Poor Sarah and poor Barbara. But Barbara couldn’t even make Sarah believe her at that point. People really didn’t give her enough credit. Even her only real friend, Sarah.
Some of the villagers were absolute horrors. Like that Vivian Greensleeves. She dumped Henry Carter because she decided the new vicar wore expensive clothing and must be well off. So she starts working on him to bring him to heel. In the meantime, unbeknownst to anyone but Mr. Hathaway’s (new vicar) uncle, the new vicar has turned over all his wealth and earthly goods to his Uncle Mike for the term of one year to see if he can live on the minute stipend he will be earning in Silverstream. He is, in essence, poor for one year. When Vivian finds out he’s poor, she dumps him. Lucky for him that Sally has recently started taking lessons from him. They find they have so much in common that they are curious about. They choose the topics and Mr. Hathaway gets them books to study from. And towards the end, there is a faint sound of wedding bells in the background. Lucky Sally! She’s such a smart and sensible girl. Barbara was quite fond of her.
Some of Miss Buncle’s word association that I so liked and that was probably what made people start paying attention…
Silverstream became Copperfield … Mrs. Featherstone-Hogg became Mrs. Horsley Downs … Mrs. Carter into Mrs. Farmer … Dr. Walker into Dr. Rider… Colonel Weatherhead became Major Waterfoot … Dorothea Bold was Mrs. Mildmay … Mr. Fortnum was Mr. Mason … Miss King was Miss Earle and Miss Pretty became Miss Darling. Perhaps had Barbara used a bit more imagination her neighbors might not have realized the people’s names had been changed. They may not have gone looking any further. But the names are so obvious for some of them that when you add characteristics and quirks that are just like them, people are bound to notice.
Well, when the hanging committee came knocking on the door, Miss Buncle was nowhere to be found and her house was on the market. No one had any idea who Mrs. Abbott was who was handling the sale for her.