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Fiction series of English? village life

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1EnchantedReader
Edited: Sep 17, 2008, 9:23pm Top

I’m looking for titles or an author of a series of books about an English village. I assume it’s English because I remember they celebrate Guy Fawkes. I have the impression they might have been published sometime in the 50’s but the time period portrayed in the books could perhaps be a bit earlier. Storylines include:

1) The caretaker of the churchyard is a cantankerous old drunk; I believe the pastor/rector/priest has a housekeeper who’s a character.

2) Elderly spinster sisters who are (or were) wealthy, eat very frugally and one of the sisters has a habit of stealing things which causes great embarassment. The plot involves a piece of jewelry she has stolen and someone who works at a tea shop coming and working/cooking for them.

3) A young single mother moves into the village and I believe a romance develops between her and the village doctor. Both are interested in gardening. I remember the cover had a picture of a house with a garden in the front, possibly a fence or hedge of some sort. (I thought the title was something like “House Across the Hedge” or something like that, but the book I could find with that title wasn’t this particular one.)

4) Teacher in the village school comes upon financial difficulties and has to give up her treasured solitude and take in a border, who I think is another teacher. I believe they go on holiday together.

5) Old horse-drawn caravan and a young man who I think is a handy man. I remember a picture of a caravan on the cover.

6) Older wise woman/grandmother with a talent for herb, plants, and animals befriends/takes in a young girl.

7) Village retirement/pensioner’s home threatens to close; there is sweet romance that develops; funds are found to renovate/repair so the home is able to stay open.

These books are similar in flavor to the Miss Read books in that they deal with a gentle, simple way of life and are delightful, not sophisticated. If this rings a bell for anyone, I’d be so thrilled. Thanks in advance.

2infiniteletters
Sep 17, 2008, 7:14pm Top

It's possibly the Mantlemass Chronicles, but I don't know that series well. It was published in the 70s instead.
http://www.librarything.com/series/Mantlemass
http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/solander%20files/chf.htm

3EnchantedReader
Sep 17, 2008, 7:42pm Top

The Mantlemass Chronicles look interesting but they're the wrong period. The books I'm looking for definitely portray life in the mid 1900's (maybe even the 1960's since village life tends to be slower paced). But thanks for giving it a shot.

4infiniteletters
Edited: Sep 17, 2008, 9:58pm Top

Hrm. Then the only other series I know in that vein is Jan Karon's Mitford series, and that's definitely too late.

On a different note, you might like Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton. It's the same type of cozy you're describing. :)

5SJaneDoe
Sep 18, 2008, 8:59am Top

Could it have been H.E. Bates' Pop Larkin books? The first is The Darling Buds of May. It takes place in the 1950s, in rural England. That plot you describe with the spinster sisters is so familiar, but I can't place it.

6MerryMary
Sep 18, 2008, 9:25pm Top

Miss Read wrote her books on English village life well into the 1960s. Could she be the one?

7millwheel
Sep 19, 2008, 8:24am Top

Angela Thirkell's Barsershire novels start with High Rising published in 1933 and conclude with Three Score and Ten in 1962. Plenty of romances, marriages and characters in an English county setting. But your specific plot references don't all sound right. However, if you're interested you can check out

http://www.angelathirkell.org/atbrief.htm

Is years since I read any of them and am now inspired to re-read!

8EnchantedReader
Sep 24, 2008, 4:37pm Top

Thanks for the recommendation, infiniteletters, I'll add it to my list.

d2vg, Bates doesn't sound familiar at all to me but I'll check into it because I don't want to leave any stone unturned.

MerryMary, I've read all the Miss Read books and own most of them. These books have a similar feel but are by a different author.

millwheel, none of the Thirkell books rang a bell for me but I'm still checking them out, starting with Northbridge Rectory.

Thanks for the responses, I so appreciate it. Still looking though...

9ivyd
Edited: Oct 4, 2008, 2:04pm Top

Your general description brings to mind the Mapp and Lucia books by E.F. Benson.

None of the story lines ring a bell with me, but I read these books in the 1970s and I don't actually remember any of the story lines -- just that they were delightful tales about an English village and that I enjoyed them very much.

10EnchantedReader
Oct 15, 2008, 5:40pm Top

These books ended up being Miss Read books afterall; they are the Thrush Green series instead of the Fairacre series that I'm familiar with. Thank you so much for your responses. I've added the books mentioned by others to my list of books to read. Thanks again!

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