Happy Friday everyone. Today’s series I love is an excuse to talk about my favourite book that I read last week which also happened to be the third book in a trilogy – which is a series right? – but which I think you really need to have read the other two books to get the most out of.
At the start of Miss Buncle’s Book, Barbara Buncle has a problem: she is running out of money. She is already living in Reduced Circumstances, with just her faithful former nanny to help her out, but when her dividends come in at a much reduced rate she needs to find another source of income. So she writes a book. The trouble is that she thinks she doesn’t have any imagination so she writes about the people she knows: the inhabitants of her village. She sprinkles in some excitement for them and that, as well as her very perceptive eye means that the book is accepted by a publisher. When the book is published, it is a great success but doesn’t take long for the village to find out about it and start to try to work out who is responsible.
Barbara is a charming character and watching her try to hide the fact that she wrote the book, whilst the resident search frantically and start to act like their fictional counterparts. She’s kind and often taken advantage of, but also wickedly observant and able to take her revenge (if she wants to) in her writing.
As you might guess from the title of the second book, Miss Buncle Married, there is also some excitement in Barbara’s personal life and the second book sees her moving to a new village to start her married life. By the third book, The Two Mrs Abbotts, it is the war and she has two children, and the focus of the book is less fully on her, but she continues throughout to be a delightful person to spend time watching.
There is no peril in these books and no body count. They are very gentle but very, very funny. If you like Diary of a Provincial Housewife, you should definitely read this. Another of DE Stevenson’s books, Mrs Tim of the Regiment, was a BotW here last year and that also is a delightful selection of characters not doing a lot or facing much peril but being very funny while they do it. And if you want Miss Buncle but *with* a body count, Death by the Book, the first book in Beth Byers’ Poison Ink series is so close to Miss Buncle that my good reads description says that it is “uncomfortably similar” until the murder!
All three of the Buncle books are available from Persephone books, both in Paperback and ebook. The actual books are gorgeous – if you’ve never seen a Persephone book in the flesh, the simple grey cover means the all match on the outside but on the inside each has a different pattern from an appropriate fabric to the period where it was published. They are delightful. And I’m told their new shop in Bath is also wonderful – Little Sister visited before Christmas.
Have a good weekend!