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Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson
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Miss Buncle's Book (original 1934; edition 2008)

by D.E. Stevenson

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5924616,592 (4.17)248
Member:exlibrisgrace
Title:Miss Buncle's Book
Authors:D.E. Stevenson
Info:Persephone Books Ltd (2008), Paperback, 344 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:Fiction 20th Century, D.E. Stevenson, Persephone, Humor

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Miss Buncle's Book by D. E. Stevenson (1934)

Recently added byCamaho, SigmundFraud, tennwisc, TooBusyReading, private library, MsStephie, rarm, Ansy, Watry
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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
I didn't realize until I finished this book that it was first published in 1934. I thought it a charming, old-fashioned kind of writing, and that explains why.
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As for the story, Miss Buncle writes a book very thinly veiling the people of her village as fictitious, and the people who are portrayed negatively, almost all of them, are not happy about it, and want to know how this author, this “John Smith,” really is.

The characters are quirky but the book is sweet. There is some romance and Miss Buncle develops an alter ego as Elizabeth Wade. No outstanding plot, just a gentle, fun book.

In fact, it was a little too gentle and fun for my tastes. I like “cute” and “charming” but only in small doses, and this one was a bit of an overdose for me.

Although this book is a pleasant palate cleanser and although I like to read fluff occasionally, I don't think I'll be reading the next in the trilogy, Miss Buncle Married. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Jul 13, 2014 |
Six-word review: Perfectly delightful feelgood novel charms gracefully.

Extended review:

A novel about a woman who writes a novel about a woman writing a novel. With remarkable depth and insight, this gentle satire entertains while showing us the absurd and the admirable in a motley cast of village characters. I enjoyed every page of this down-to-earth narrative and look forward to meeting some, if not all, of the characters in one or more sequels.

Three and a half stars signify a thoroughly satisfactory read that does not aspire to venture into serious literary territory but does what it does very well indeed. ( )
  Meredy | Jun 27, 2014 |
Barbara Buncle is a middle aged spinster who has been forced by reduced circumstances to seek additional income and so has written a novel based on the village in which she lives under a pseudonym in the hope of making some money. To her delight her book is published and becomes wildly popular, putting an end to her financial problems. However, the residents of Miss Buncle’s village are less thrilled when they discover that they all feature in the book and many of them are less than flattered. If only they can find the author, the mysterious John Smith, then there is certain to be trouble.

Miss Buncle’s Book was everything I had hoped for and more. It is a charming tale of village life which becomes less and less typical as the plot advances, culminating in events which are utterly outlandish, incredibly far-fetched and delightfully entertaining. It is light and fluffy but prevented from being vacuous by the sharp intelligence which lies behind the keen observations of people and their ways which make this book so enjoyable.

Primarily, Miss Buncle’s Book is a novel of character, giving D. E. Stevenson the opportunity to draw portraits of a variety of different people from the doctor to the indomitable Mrs Featherstone Hogg. She is able to convey a great deal of information about her characters without saying things directly, such as in the beginning of the chapter entitled ‘Mrs Carter’s Tea-Party’:

Barbara knew when she saw the china that Mrs Featherstone Hogg was expected, and her spirits fell a degree for she did not like Mrs Featherstone Hogg. Barbara had met Dorothea Bold on the doorstep and they had gone in together, and Miss King and Miss Pretty were there already. But not for these would Mrs Carter have produced her best eggshell cups and saucers, that filmy drawn-thread-work tea-cloth, those lusciously bulging cream buns. (p. 61)

I love the way that Stevenson has focused on the little details like this, making them seem large and important and so drawing the reader into the rather petty and insular world of Silverstream with its little intrigues and high dramas, which is nonetheless a very enjoyable place to be. Persephone have already published the sequel to this book, Miss Buncle Married, and I really hope that they plan to continue republishing the series as I definitely want to spent more time in the company of Barbara Buncle. ( )
  Ygraine | May 7, 2014 |
A fun, cozy read!! I love the Miss Buncle character - she reminds me very much of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in some ways, and we all know how much I adore her :) If, like me, you have a penchant for British novels set in the 20s and 30s, you won't be disappointed by Miss Buncle's Book. ( )
  TRWhittier | May 1, 2014 |
Book #75: Miss Buncle's Book by D. E. Stevenson ★★★★½
Series: Miss Buncle (1 of 4)
Edition: Persephone Books (2008), Paperback, 344 pages
Original publication date: 1934

Miss Buncle was born and raised and has lived in the quaint English village of Silverstream all her life, and now in her late 30s, a frumpy old maid who dresses badly and whom no one takes seriously or pays much attention to, she's arrived at a crisis point. The dividends off which she had always lived in relative comfort have now dwindled to nothing, and she must find a way to increase her revenues. Taking a job isn't an option for a proper lady, and her old servant Dorcas won't allow her to take in hens or lodgers, and instead suggests she write a book. But Barbara Buncle claims she has no imagination, so if she writes a book, it will have to be about people she knows and her life experiences, which is how the village of Silverstream becomes the fictional Copperfield, and each of her acquaintances has a part to play in the story. She sends the manuscript to the first publisher she finds in the directory, under the pen name of John Smith. Mr Abbott of Abbott & Spicer Publishers is delighted with it and feels sure he's got a best-seller on his hands, only he can't quite figure out if the book is a satire or whether the author is simple-minded and writing about such witty anecdotes completely in earnest, but he's willing to gamble that this enigma will only keep the readers of Disturber of the Peace all the more interested. As he predicts, the book is in fact a success, and nowhere more so than in Silverstream itself, where several residents read it and are mortified to recognize themselves, hairy moles and all. No one more so than Mrs Featherstone Hogg, fictionalized as Mrs Horsley Downs. Up until now she has firmly held on to her superior social position in the town by sheer force of will, and she has everything to lose by the revelation in Disturber of the Peace that she was a chorus girl when her husband first met her. Unaware that each book sold means royalties for the author, she purchases copy after copy of the book, pressuring all the townspeople to read it immediately so she can launch her libel campaign against John Smith, and if no lawyer is willing to take on the case, then they will unmask the miscreant who will be horsewhipped (Mrs Featherstone Hogg's preferred method of punishment, though she's not sure what it actually involves) and driven out of Silverstream. Among others joining her cause are Mr Bulmer, a bad-tempered bully who mistreats his wife (who in the book leaves him for another man), and old Mrs Carter, about whom John Smith has had the audacity to suggest her perfectly styled hair is in fact a wig.

And so the stage is set for a great entertainment, and we see how the residents of this small community react when a mirror is held up to them, showing all their quirks and flaws and revealing secrets they never imagined anyone could know about their lives. This might not be the stuff of award-winning highbrow literature, but I loved this story, which is so very cleverly written, and peopled with an entertaining set of characters in this book within a book. D. E. Stevenson, whose father was first cousins with Robert Louis Stevenson, became a popular writer in her day, publishing nearly a book a year from 1923 to 1969, though most are now out of print. Persephone Books of London, which specializes in "mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women" (their biggest seller is the delightful Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, a personal favourite), has printed three of the four Miss Buncle books, originally written between 1934 and 1946. Need I say I'm absolutely dying to put through an order for the next two books? ( )
  Smiler69 | Apr 28, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
D. E. Stevensonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carey, EileenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Templeton, AlineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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One fine summer's morning the sun peeped over the hills and looked down on the valley of Silverstream.
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Book description
Who Knew One Book Could Cause So Much Chaos?

Barbara Bunde is in a bind. Times are harsh, and Barbara's bank account has seen better days. Maybe she could sell a novel ... if she knew any stories. Stumped for ideas, Barbara draws inspiration from her fellow residents of Silverstream, the little English village she knows inside and out. 

To her surprise, the novel is a smash. It's a good thing she wrote under a pseudonym, because the folks of Silverstream are in an uproar. But what really turns Miss Bunde's world around is this: what happens to the characters in her book starts happening to their real-life counterparts. Does life really imitate art? 
[retrieved 1/22/2014 from Amazon.com]
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Who Knew One Book Could Cause So Much Chaos? Barbara Bunde is in a bind. Times are harsh, and Barbara's bank account has seen better days. Maybe she could sell a novel ... if she knew any stories. Stumped for ideas, Barbara draws inspiration from her fellow residents of Silverstream, the little English village she knows inside and out. To her surprise, the novel is a smash. It's a good thing she wrote under a pseudonym, because the folks of Silverstream are in an uproar. But what really turns Miss Bunde's world around is this: what happens to the characters in her book starts happening to their real-life counterparts. Does life really imitate art? A beloved author who has sold more than seven million books, D. E. Stevenson is at her best with Miss Buncle's Book, crafting a highly original and charming tale about what happens when people see themselves through someone else's eyes. Love it, love it, love it There are no vampires, no faeries, no weird creatures, just a sweet story about real people living in a world I've always dreamed of.?Reader Review… (more)

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