Saturday, 10 March 2012

Miss Buncle's Book - DE Stevenson

Miss Buncle's Book  written in the 1930s, and certainly has a style of that time -which I really enjoyed.  A real comedy of manners, for when the worst behaved in the village recognise themselves in Barbara Buncle's book, they become even more badly behaved!

Barbara Buncle is a single woman living in a small village.  She doesn't work, indeed she can afford a maid, Dorcas, until her investments and therefore her income, take a dive.  What to do? She was never trained to do anything very much, and there had always been just enough money to live on until now.  Her decision to write a book has interesting results.  She bases the book on Silverstream, her own village, and writes very truthfully about everyone, just changing their names (and not very well, either!).  The most odious woman in the village recognises herself straight away, and threatens to sue - but who?  The author on the cover of the book is John Smith, and who can that be?  A witch hunt starts, with the threat of  a good horsewhipping due to John Smith, if only he can be found.  The accusations fly, and still no-one realises that Miss Buncle is John Smith, even though she has told one of her friends already!

This is really a story of good (and bad) manners, and even though it is rather dated now, there will always be  places where people are not quite what they seem and will take steps to cover their stories up, and where people bluff and blunder when they know they are in the wrong.  For the same reasons that Jane Austen still sells well, any book that manages to describe people as they really are is worth a read.

This lovely book is published by Persephone Books.