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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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6085116,044 (4.18)260
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)

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English (49)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
I was surprised how much I liked this book. Set in a quaint English village, this gem from the 1930s has stood the test of time. Miss Buncle needs money and decides the only solution is to write a book, under a pseudonym, of course, about her life and her neighbors. Funny and charming with interesting characters; this is a quick, enjoyable read. ( )
  GovMarley | Oct 7, 2014 |
I was surprised how much I liked this book. Set in a quaint English village, this gem from the 1930s has stood the test of time. Miss Buncle needs money and decides the only solution is to write a book, under a pseudonym, of course, about her life and her neighbors. Funny and charming with interesting characters; this is a quick, enjoyable read. ( )
  GovMarley | Oct 7, 2014 |
Miss Barbara Buncle, a "maiden lady" writes a book in the hopes of increasing her dwindling income. Her story is inspired by her neighbours; in fact, most of them appear in it, under pseudonyms, and Miss Buncle publishes it under the name "John Smith". But Disturber of the Peace becomes a bestseller and pseudonyms are not enough to prevent some of her neighbours from recognising themselves, it does leave them puzzling over who on earth is the author (and what can they do to him for writing such a horrible book).

It becomes rather meta - Miss Buncle's book inspires her neighbours to take certain courses of action, which in turn inspires Miss Buncle to write a sequel, which is about a woman (the fictionalised Miss Buncle) who has written a book inspired by her neighbours and is now writing a sequel about their responses to it.

Mr Abbot had never before read a novel about a woman who wrote a novel about a woman who wrote a novel - it was a like a recurring decimal, he thought, or perhaps even more like a perspective of mirrors such as tailors use, in which the woman and her novel were reflected back and forth to infinity.

I thought this was delightful, capturing life in a 1930s English village with perspicacity and humour. ( )
  Herenya | Oct 6, 2014 |
Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone; (4*)

Miss Buncle's Book is another cleverly drawn story about a spinster lady. Barbara Buncle has been living off her dividends for many years and now the tide has turned and interests are not paying what they used to. Her dividend cheques become smaller and smaller until she and Dorcas, her housekeeper, begin to wonder however will they manage........

But being the person that she is, Miss Buncle begins to think on how she can earn a living for herself and continue to pay her housekeeper who has been with her since her childhood days. She knows that she cannot go out into service or the work force for it simply wouldn't do for a genteel lady to do so and she would no longer be accepted within her circles. Aha; she comes upon an idea to write a book but as she begins it, try as she may, her imagination will only allow her to play upon that which she knows. The people of the village where she has lived all of her life.

And so it begins........the story of her fellow villagers........with the names changed of course (to protect the innocent, lol) and their lives switched up a bit. There is the sweet, naive, young Vicar, the ghastly and self centered woman who is out to seduce & wed the poor fellow for she believes he is monied. There is the good doctor and his sweet but frail wife and their twin babies for whom she is always knitting and sewing. There is the couple with the two children who so fear the husband and father that not a peep nor foot tapping can be heard in the house. There are the two single women who have decided to share a home so as to simply their finances. And there are many others.

Miss Buncle's Book is written under the pseudo name of John Smith. She does not want the inhabitants to know that she wrote the book and when it is completed she goes into London to one Mr. Abbott of a publishing firm. He does not come recommended to her but instead she simply went through the publishing houses alphabetically and he came up first. Mr. Abbott is not surprised to find that John Smith is actually a woman. Barbara Buncle leaves the manuscript with him and he spends the afternoon and evening reading it and finds it to be a funny and whimsical read. He likes it very much. When he calls Miss Buncle in, they discuss the book and he writes up a contract for her right then and there.

The book sells very well and the publisher has to order several printings to keep up with the demand. It sells especially well in the village where Miss Buncle lives. People are reading it in droves and most are actually very angry as they recognize themselves, most in not too pretty of a light, and they recognize their neighbors, friends, town merchants, etc. All in all, Miss Buncle's Book, wreaks all kinds of havoc.

I found this tale to be rather ingenious and I loved it. It is a very comfortable book to read with not a lot of depth but when one reads a book for the pure joy of reading there is no need for the depth that one seeks out at other times. I very highly recommend this one for all readers of all ages. It WAS a joy for this reader. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Aug 17, 2014 |
This is most definitely not a book for everyone, but if you like affectionate takes on English eccentrics, it's hard to get better.

Miss Buncle, confronted with dwindling dividends, resolves that writing a book is the best way of shoring up her finances. Wholly without imagination, however, she resorts to thinly disguised portraits of her own village. Thus does the sleepy Silverstream become "Copperfield", and when its denizens find out, chaos breaks loose.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It's light as a souffle, but Stevenson's frothy prose up to the task. English farce is a kind of subgenre, one I'm quite partial too, but it can be tricky to pull off. If you make the book too lightweight, there's no momentum to keep a reader going. But if you weigh it down with serious characterisation or narrative, the inherent absurdity becomes too much.

Stevenson navigates the territory most ably. The book has a fairly cracking pace, and the wide cast provides a welcome contrast, ranging from unpleasant and silly to sensible and nice - and every permutation in between.

Whilst gently mocking, the book's tone never slips into bitterness, and nor does Stevenson deprive the reader of the ending we want. The dialogue is light and very play-like, and the prose itself - amused, slightly removed, flowery in just the right places - is a vital contributor to the book's humour.

But there's an extra treat to Mrs Buncle's book: in a postmodern twist very progressive for 1934, the book-within-a-book structure becomes its own delightful puzzle box.

The parallels (and differences) - between the characters of Silverstream and Copperfield, and their fates, lends a very pleasing, mischievous complexity to an otherwise straight forward novel. In addition there's a lovely recursive element, where a disruptive element in the book-within is mirrored by the production of the book itself in the actual novel. I probably haven't explained that very well. Suffice to say it's well done, Stevenson doesn't harp on it, and it's quite clever.

I can't really picture a way this book could have accomplished what it wanted to any better - hence a well-deserved 5 stars. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but it's about as good as it gets within the genre. ( )
  patrickgarson | Aug 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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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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