Original date of publication: 1936
My edition: 2011 (Persephone)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Persephone website, June 2011
When we last saw Miss Buncle, she was just about to marry her publisher, Arthur Abbott. Her novel, Disturber of the Peace, disturbed the peace in the town of Silverstream, and the novel opens with a decision to move from there in light of the censure Barbara, now of course married, received for writing it. Barbara begins married life in Wandlebury, a new town with a whole new set of characters from which to gain inspiration. But Barbara claims she has eschewed novel writing and turns her attention to her new house, friends, and family, including Arthur’s nephew Sam.
Barbara is just as charming as ever; she’s incredibly perceptive of the people she encounters, from the village busybodies, to the town doctor (who happens to be an old friend of Arthur’s), to an eccentric old aristocrat who changes her will according to the whim of a moment. It’s this will that’s at the heart of the plot of the book and the mistakes and mistaken identities that ensue as a part of Barbara’s attempts to interfere. There are some truly hysterical scenes in the novel, but I don’t want to reveal anything for fear of ruing the plot.
Only time will tell if Barbara learns her lesson; I’m wondering when The Two Mrs. Abbotts will be republished so I can get more of these wonderful characters, including the Marvels next door: Mr. Marvel is a wonderfully boorish Artist and his ragamuffin children who run roughshod over the Abbotts’ garden. The ending is somewhat predictable, and many of the characters are toned down from the ones that appear in Miss Buncle’s Book, but I thought this novel was entertaining from the first page to the last.