The scene of this entertaining story is laid in a charming English village. The plot centres round Miss Barbara Buncle, a maiden lady who was obliged to write a book because – as she naively explained – her dividends were so poor. Unfortunately, Miss Buncle had no imagination, so she wrote about her friends – quite kindly and truthfully, of course, for she was a benevolent and veracious soul.
The reactions of her friends to Miss Buncle’s book, however, were a little surprising, and the far-reaching and unexpected results of its publication caused quite a stir.
©1934 D. E. Stevenson (P)2010 Soundings
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It is a "period piece" actually written in the period. It was written in the thirties - when the vocabulary was prettier, the manners were kinder and the people were gentler. Sometimes I wished I were reading on my Kindle (for the instant dictionary) but then I would have missed the narrator's delivery - which was spot on - she changed voices for all characters. I plan to listen to all available D. E. Stevenson's books. Miss Buncle and her cast of characters were so entertaining and I got a glimpse of life in England in the thirties.
Here's hoping BBC makes a miniseries from the wonderful works of D.E. Stevenson. If so, the Miss Buncle books would be the place to start. They are charming tales that any fan of Austen or Gaskell would likely appreciate.
Barbara Buncle is a naive single woman of a certain age who must suddenly find a way to make a living for herself. Deciding that her only option is to write a book, but feeling herself to be sadly lacking in imagination, Barabara writes about her neighbors in the small town of Silverstream- first assuming the pseudonym of John Smith and politely changing the names of all who are mentioned in her tale. Rather than writing the lives of her neighbors exactly, Barbara allows each character to do what she believes they secretly wish to do.
Unfortunately Barbara does such a good job of describing her neighbors that they quickly recognize themselves. While some infuriated townsfolk begin a witch hunt for the slanderous "John Smith," others, including Barbara herself, take the suggestions of the story as an opportunity to embark on new adventures in this humorous tale of fiction becoming fact.
I am a long time fan of D. E. Stevenson's books, and Miss Buncle's Book was the first I read. I greatly enjoyed the audiobook version, and am delighted to see that Audible released the second in the series, Miss Buncle Married, which I am downloading as I type. Hopefully this will be followed by the third in the series, The Two Mrs Abbotts, which follows Barbara Buncle Abbott and her niece-in-law during WWII.
I got tired of waiting to find a reasonably priced Persephone edition of Miss Buncle's Book, about which I had heard so many raves, so I downloaded an audio version. Wonderfully read by Patricia Gallimore, it was a true delight! (And I'm not one who usually cares much for humorous novels.)
Miss Buncle writes and publishes under the pseudonym of John Smith a book based on observations of her fellow villagers, and quite a hoopla erupts as they recognize themselves in 'Distruber of the Peace,' which soon becomes a best-seller. I'm not going to spoil the fun by adding any further details (and I strongly advise that you skip the longer reviews, which contain far too many spoilers). Suffice it to say that I'm on the prowl for more books by D. E. Stevenson; she was a real find for me!
A gentle, yet extremely funny book about the doings of a small English village of a bygone era. Miss Buncle writes a book based on the characters of her friends and neighbors "because she has no imagination" (her own assessment). The descriptions in the book are hilarious send-ups, although the innocent and unworldly Miss Buncle only means them as accurate depictions (which they also are). The villagers who are selfish or bad tempered are enraged by the book and want to find out the real identity of the author (Miss Buncle has used a pen name) so "he" can be horse-whipped! Will they find out Miss Buncle's secret? It's a darling of a book, beautifully narrated, and immensely amusing. If you like gore and real hard-core meanness, stay away from it. If not, be prepared to be charmed by this book's and old world wit and tenderness.
I enjoyed this book so much--it's told in simple language, but implies that much has been left unsaid, and there's a great deal of pleasure in reading between the lines. Patricia Gallimore perfectly captures the wry humor of the book. She is a rarity among woman narrators in that she does men's voices well; she is able to do different voices for different male characters, express a range of emotions in each male voice, and even do a credible male romantic character (this has been a real sticking point for me in some audiobooks narrated by women!). Although this story is a light read, it doesn't feel like a trivial read. It's funny and smart. Highly recommended.
I adore fantasy, British literature from Victorian days through WWII, mysteries, food books, and Young Adult fantasy.
This was my very first D.E. Stevenson novels and remains one of my favorite. It is completely charming and very well-written. The plotline and character development is masterfully wrought. I'm very pleased with the audio version.
This is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to and so clever. What a smart and interesting plot and who would have thought that such a benign plot could be so exciting. I loved every minute of this. The reader is very engaging and changes her voice so naturally to depict different characters. So good. Well done!
I bought this book based on the reviews of others, but was not expecting much as I had never heard of the author. The book was a pleasant surprise! It has a simple plot that holds your attention, and the characters are vivid and interesting. It is a gentle read, perfect before bedtime.
I am new to DE Stevenson books-- but the reviews I read about it were so positive I thought I'd give it a try. At first I thought I might have made a mistake--but my suggestion is to wait before judging and keep going. The book is a total charmer. Extremely funny--with hysterical exchanges between the perfectly developed characters. The book was written in the 1930's so it really portrays a whole other world for the reader. It reminded me of the style of humor in the Cary Grant movie Bringing up Baby or the more recent What's Up Doc with Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand. Slap stick silliness. It was really fun listening and I look forward to other books by this author. Strongly recommended!
"A very English book"
A wonderful book - gentle, humourous, kind and old fashioned in the very best sense. It shows a picture of village life before the war, the alliances and petty rivalries and what happens when one of the villagers writes a book exposing their hidden secrets (good and bad). It's the sort of book to relax into, to listen to on a sunny summer afternoon with a glass of Pimms. It is as quintessentially English as cricket and home made scones. A lovely listen beautifully read.
"So funny, I could not stop laughing so good."
Never read this if you have a chest cold, you will laugh so much you will have a coughing fit.
I have downloaded 2 more titles by this author - hope they are as good.
"What a great listen!"
How I would have loved to have written 'Miss Buncle's Book' - what a joy it is! I found it a skilfully written, gentle and very funny book. The fantastical plot is rooted in the kind of English village life which I recognise from living in my English village today. D. E. Stevenson's characters are true to type; when they do unbelievable things,it doesn't jar or irritate but amuses.This audible version is well read by Patricia Gallimore.
E.F.Benson this isn't quite, but it does have a quiet and placid charm about it. It's great fun and with a heart of gold and (best of all) utterly, utterly stereotypical of the '1930s novel of English Village Life.' it's all there- the young vicar, the retired military man, the lone spinster, the pretty widow, the crashing snob... It really couldn't be more soothing.
"Light but amusing"
If you like characters then you're likely to enjoy this. There are a lot of characters so I wouldn't recommend this book if you get easily confused. It was gentle, pleasant, amusing and well read. It's a long time since I enjoyed a book quite as much as this one.
"Good story but ..."
The story is amusing and very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the narrator tells the story well but her voices for characters are dire. Sorry but there it is.
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