Monday, January 13, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson is a light-hearted, charming romp through the small English village of Silverstream, somewhere outside of London. Written in 1936, the book has recently been re-released by Sourcebooks Landmark. I say recently, but it was 2012. This is one of those books that I bought right away because it sounded like just my type of book. Then it sat on my shelf waiting for a TBR pile challenge.

Barbara Buncle is a single woman of an indeterminate age (not forty we’re told in a roundabout way, but not a young thing either) who has gotten into a tight spot financially as her dividends have lessened. She needs money and her housekeeper is not too keen on the idea of raising hens. So she hatches a scheme to write a book. Barbara doesn’t have much imagination (her words), so she writes about her neighbors. She changes the name of the town to Copperfield and very thinly disguises the people of her village in a book that is either scathing satire or charmingly innocent. She packs the book off to the first publisher on the list–Mr. Abbott–who immediately recognizes its potential.

Barbara, who was smart enough to use a pseudonym, John Smith, was not quite astute enough to foresee the trouble the book would cause. Of course the inhabitants of her town recognize themselves. And the ones who were most honestly and amusingly portrayed are the ones who are most offended.

Barbara Buncle watches with anxiety as a witch hunt for John Smith ensues, and at the same time, her book has some unforeseen influence over members of the community, including herself. All this makes delicious fodder for the follow-up book that Mr. Abbott insists she must write. Barbara is quite safe from exposure, since the whole town considers the book clever, if scandalous and libelous, and no one has ever given her credit for cleverness. It’s almost enough to make her want to claim credit, if not for the fact that doing so would ruin her life. Or at least, change it.

This is insightful, old-fashioned comedy and sweetly romantic. It’s a quick and pleasant read–a great way to while away a few hours.

This is my first book for the TBR pile reading challenge hosted by Bookish. And since it’s a historical novel, it also counts for the Historical Fiction challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry. Check out the links for these two fun challenges!



  1. This book has been sitting on my shelf since it was re-released in 2012 too :-) I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll have to make an effort to read it this year.

  2. I enjoyed this book and also its sequel, Miss Buncle Married. Haven't gotten around to the third book yet.