Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review of "Miss Buncle's Book" [79]

Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson 
Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN 978-1402270826
September 1, 2012, 304 pages.

Times are tough for Barbara Buncle. The world wide Depression of the 1920's and 30's has reach Miss Buncle's little English town of Silverstream and especially her bank balance. Her investments are not producing as they once did and she is going to have to find a way to make some money. She decides she has two choices, to keep chickens or write a book. Happily for us, she goes with the book.

But what to write? She claims she has no imagination, so she decides to write about her little village and especially the interesting cast of characters that live there. She sets to work, then packs it up and takes it to a publisher, the charming Mr. Abbott, who is intrigued with both the book and it's author. He is not sure, after reading the book, whether Miss Buncle is totally naive or a clever satirist, but either way he finds her and her story delightful. But trouble is lurking because, much to Miss Buncle's amazement, the book is a bestseller.

Isn't that a good thing? Yes, it is great for her bank balance but causes great turmoil in Silverstream. Because everyone in the village see themselves, not too well disguised, in the book's characters and some are very happy with what they see. And they set out to discover who among them is the mysterious author, Mr. John Smith.
For some the book is a chance to look at their lives and make some very positive changes. For them the book itself become like the Golden boy who appears in the latter part of Buncle's book, magically allowing people to do what they dream about. But it also, for a tiny bit of intrigue, brings out the worst in one or two. Happily for us, it takes the villagers a long time, and in fact the publication of Miss Buncle's second book, to figure out who the author is. In the meantime we get to watch what happens when someone holds up a very clear mirror and people get to see themselves as they really are.

Dorothy Emily Stevenson Peploe
I must thank Pudgy Penguin Perusals for bringing this book to my attention because I was totally unfamiliar with Stevenson's work...and she had written over 40 books!
You know when you finish a book, turn that last page and slam the cover shut and one word just comes to mind. Well, the word here is delightful! This book is charming without being sugary sweet, very clever and often very, very funny. And oddly modern in it's feel. Ok, I missed it when I heard about this book and did not realize that this was the republication of a book that first came out in 1938. It could have been written yesterday...well, if you are a very talented writer.

I am so happy that this book has been reissued and, come November, the second in the series, Miss Buncle Married, will be reissued as well. Oh my, a spoiler...lol! Hopefully the third and last in this series, The Two Mrs. Abbotts, will not be far behind. Not to worry when you finish that one either, because I understand many of her other books intertwine with each other and a number of your favorite characters may make an appearance in one or more of them.
Hopefully these new editions will open Stevenson's books to a whole new audience. They deserve it!

My thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for providing me with a copy for review.


  1. So happy that you thought this was delightful. I think it's one of the most charming books I've read this year. Just finished Miss Buncle Married - not quite as captivating as MBB but still I liked it very much.

  2. I'd like this one myself. Sounds absolutely delightful

  3. This sounds delightful! I bet my mom would like it. I might just need to start my Christmas shopping now.


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