Miss Buncle Married
Miss Buncle #2
Herbert Jenkins Ltd. 1936
Sourcebooks Landmark 2012
354 pages, ebook, hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Women’s lit, humor, historical
I purchased this at the current price. This is my honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind.
The cover fits the style established by the first book of this series and appropriate for this period piece. It definitely fits the story as well. I love how it looks as if they are almost dancing. I reviewed the first book, Miss Buncle’s Book previously on GoodReads. I found this second book to be just as entertaining and amusing as the first book. The characters are super and so substantial. Miss Buncle we got to know in her first book in quite a bit of depth, but Arthur we only got to know a bit. We get to know him quite a bit more in this second round. The story is really good and amusing. A fit sequel to the first one. The pace is brisk and the tension enough to keep you waiting for what can possibly happen next because, in this book, there’s always something!
And here begins the reveal…
The two characters, Arthur and Barbara Abbott, are really great, especially Barbara. The Abbotts thought they were happily living in Sunnydene enjoying life, but come to find out, they are miserable and didn’t know it. And they only discover this because of Arthur’s headache. As usual, the Abbotts have been out socializing on Friday evening and drinking their friends’ mediocre port, smoking third-rate cigars (Arthur), and playing bridge. Come Saturday morning, Arthur has to get himself up to meet a bad writer at the office, in spite of the fact that he usually takes Saturdays off to play golf and relax. This puts Arthur in a bad mood. The bad writer doesn’t show up for his early appointment and this puts Arthur in a worse mood. Even the secretaries in the office notice his bad mood, but they blame it on the fact that he’s recently married! Arthur’s in too bad a mood to get anything done, so he goes home early rather than working a full day. He arrives home with a headache and tells Barbara that he can’t possibly go out tonight to whatever social event they have, so she will have to cancel. Barbara makes some comment about the hostess having trouble making up her table at the last minute and this sets Arthur off. He has a jolly rant. This usually mild-mannered, rather calm man really raises the roof when he goes on and on about the constant round of dinner parties with always the same food at each house, the mediocre port on offer and the third-rate cigars. The constant bridge games. The same conversations over and over. And on and on until he had unwound their social whirl and laid it at his astounded wife’s feet.
Barbara says to him that she thought he enjoyed the dinners and liked playing bridge. Arthur comes back with a no, that he did it because he thought she liked it. To which she returns that she doesn’t like bridge, it bores her and she’s no good at it. This is something that everyone knows since they are always having to get her attention to get her back in the game and she isn’t a good bridge partner and can’t keep track of the cards or even the suit. Arthur and Barbara decide that they really need to give up their constant social whirl. They look at the calendar and can’t figure out a way to do it and so decide they need to move. So begins Barbara’s house hunting.
Arthur has had the same couple working for him for a number of years and things have always worked out well. A single man with simple needs, no problem. When Barbara came into the picture, she got a different picture of the couple, the Rasts, than Arthur had of them. She got the feeling that the couple didn’t like her and that Mr. Rast could be decidedly dangerous. When the couple hears that Arthur and Barbara are planning to move from the area, Mrs. Rast approaches Barbara. She tells Barbara that she and Rast don’t want to leave the area, they’re settled and have their friends and they’ve been with Mr. Abbott for a long time, and that they are sure that Mr. Abbott will understand that they don’t want to leave the neighborhood as they know his ways so well and such. That they feel decidedly unsettled by all this talk of moving to another place. Feeling they weren’t trusted. And she went on and finally Barbara had to say that she would appreciate it if Rast and Mrs. Rast would pack up and find themselves new employment. Arthur was quite startled at the idea that they really thought he and Barbara would stay there because of them!
So, every day Barbara gets in her car to drive off in another direction to meet an estate agent to look at houses. After a while, the pickings get rather slim. Finally, she sets off to Wandlebury to look at The Archway House. She goes to Mr. Tuttle’s office to pick up the key for the house and Mr. Tuttle mistakes her for Lady Matilda Chevis Cobbe for whom he has a will to be signed. Barbara is allowed to read the will and gets quite an eyeful when she does. At this point, she doesn’t know any of these people. Finally, she is able to convince Mr. Tuttle that she is not who he thinks she is, which is very upsetting to him as that will was supposed to be strictly confidential. Barbara is sworn to secrecy and given the key to The Archway House. She meets Mrs. Dance, the vicar’s wife on her way to the house and does her best to sidestep the plethora of questions the unpleasant woman asks. She’s totally charmed by the house and buys it straight off. She’s not terribly charmed by Mrs. Dance.
She’s quite taken with the wonderful garden, which ends at the river. Just about the time she decides it’s the type of garden that should have children playing in it, she meets Trivvie (Trivona Marvel) and Amby (Ambrose Marvel), the children who live next door, making themselves quite at home in the garden. Then she meets their nanny, Miss Foddy, who tries very hard to keep up with the children. Much later, she meets the third and oldest child, Lanky (Lancreste Marvel) and their parents. Barbara is totally amazed and almost horrified at times at the children’s antics and daring as she gets to know the family during the course of the renovation of her house. She often wonders why Mr. and Mrs. Marvel had children since they seldom have anything to do with them and don’t seem to have the least idea what their children are about. At one point, the children show Barbara an effigy they’ve made from clay by the river. They say it’s Mrs. Dance, the vicar’s wife, whom no one really seems to like much. They have stuck a pin in her midsection. Barbara then learns that Mrs. Dance is indeed ill with what may be appendicitis. This really upsets her.
I don’t want to reveal everything, but there’s a whole secondary storyline here. Remember that will that Barbara was sworn to secrecy about? Well, Lady Matilda Chevis Cobbe has indeed died and it’s time to read the will. There are some surprises in store for people, and some traps if they aren’t careful. Barbara has a really hard time over the ethics of whether or not she should warn a couple of people of the contents of the document. Out of all of this, Barbara does write a new book, but this one is just to get it out of her head and have her husband evaluate it. Not for publication, thank you. Then she has a surprise for Mr. Abbott. You know what they say about a new house…
#3 The Two Mrs. Abbotts