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Review: Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson


Miss Buncle is a pretty average, middle age woman living in an English country village. One day, she decides to write a novel about Silverstream, the village she lives in. The books is published, and instantly becomes a bestseller—with adverse effects in Silverstream, for its inhabitants are furious that someone has dared to write about—caricature—their lives.

This is an extremely funny book, poking fun at the provincialism of the average English country village in the 1930s. The characters are a howl: Mrs. Featherstone Hogg, who of all the inhabitants of the village is the most enraged; Mr. Hathaway the vicar; Mrs. Greensleeves, the widow who only chases after the vicar because she thinks he has money; Miss King and Miss Pretty; Colonel Weatherhead, the town’s confirmed bachelor; and others, including Doctor Walker and his wife, and Sally Carter, who seem to be the only people not offended by Disturber of the Peace (sounds like the title of a mystery, but no matter). Miss Buncle’s descriptions of her characters are somewhat cruel, but truthful nonetheless. This novel is hysterically funny as well—I had stitches in my side by the time I got to the description of the film that Mr. Abbott and Miss Buncle go to see.

It’s claimed over and over again that Miss Buncle is a simple creature; but maybe she really does know what she’s doing all along? I think she’s a lot smarter than a lot of people, including Miss Buncle herself, give her credit for. As events unfold, and life imitates art, so to speak, it becomes clear that truth really is stranger than fiction.

This is Persephone #81 (endpaper below)

Comments

Miss Moppet said…
Sounds good! The last novel I read about someone who causes a stir by writing a book about their home town was Return to Peyton Place, which was good, but rather different to how this sounds.

I've just posted about Persephone #85 and #86 - two favourite books I had no idea they were reprinting until recently.

Helena aka Miss Moppet

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