Thursday, August 23, 2012
Review: Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson
Published in 1934, Miss Buncle's Book is a captivating and thoroughly delightful story about a spinster who finds herself in dire financial need. Barbara Buncle has previously lived quietly and nicely on her dividends but now they have dwindled down to almost nothing. What should she do? Keep hens? No, that won't suit. Take in paying guests? No, too inconvenient. Oh, wait a minute, she could write a book. Yes, that's what she'll do. But, what to write? She admits she has no imagination so she writes what she knows; a titillating story of the residents in her little British village of Silverstream.
The publisher, Mr. Abbott, cannot decide if Miss Buncle is a simple writer or a clever satirist but he is convinced that Miss Buncle is on to something and that the story will be successful. When the book is published and becomes an overnight sensation, the villagers who are in the book are up in arms at her portrayal of them. Miss Buncle, writing under the pseudonym of John Smith, may say she has no imagination but she is a keen observer of human nature and has hit the nail on the head with her characterizations, ruffling many a feather along the way.
To the villagers, some of the events in the book seem silly and totally unrealistic at first but a funny thing happens; real life starts to imitate fiction. Still, no one can figure out who John Smith is but when Miss Buncle's second book is released, there is no question about the author. Between Mr. Abbott and Miss Buncle, the perfect ending to the story is concocted. Such fun!
Miss Buncle's Book is delightful and so charming that I read it in two sittings. At the beginning, the reader is bombarded with characters but they soon sort themselves out in no time and become easy to picture in the mind. The well drawn characters, their reactions and the simple village life appealed to me in a big way. It's refreshing to read of a simpler time and place. The story and writing style remind me of E.F. Benson's Miss Mapp and Lucia books and P.G. Wodehouse's stories.
I smiled, I giggled, I laughed out loud, I tsk'd tsk'd at some of the characters' antics but most of all I loved the book! I can't wait to read another. 5*****
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Source Books /Net Galley in exchange for my honest opinion.