Thursday, February 11, 2010

Miss Buncle's Book


Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson is the first Persephone I've read this year and what a fabulous one it is. This is one of those perfectly unique stories because it's a book within a book.

Barbara Buncle, a fortyish awkward spinster is suddenly encountering some money troubles and decides to write a book to supplement her income. Claiming she's unimaginative, she writes about the things she knows which are mainly the people in her small village of Silverstream. She changes the village name to Copperfield and renames all her neighbors. However, she describes them exactly as they are up to the infinitesimal details, even mentioning the wig and false teeth that Mrs.Carter wears and the number of hairs on the facial mole of Ms.King. The book becomes a bestseller and it doesn't take long for most of the villagers to spot themselves in the narrative. Infuriated, they determine to discover the identity of the writer who calls himself  'John Smith' never suspecting that it's just Miss Buncle.

 
(a photo of D.E. Stevenson from the Persephone Post)

I thought this book was a lot of fun and very endearing. Miss Buncle, though considered an idiot by her neighbors is in truth a smart and kind woman who also finds love in the novel. A charming, whimsical and easy read perfect for a holiday or a rainy day. Many people have compared it to the Persephone Classic Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day but I actually enjoyed this one so much more and I'd love to read the sequels if only they were readily available.

D.E. Stevenson is a largely forgotten Scottish author who had a very successful writing career between 1923 and 1970. She wrote 45 novels most of them bestsellers in the United States and the UK. Last year saw the rerelease of two of her novels, Miss Buncle's Book from Persephone and Miss Tim of the Regiment from Bloomsbury. Miss Buncle's Book is currently one of the top ten bestsellers at Persephone.

If you have read the book, check out this hilarious link showing what it would be like if the characters of Miss Buncle's Book were all in Facebook or in this case, Bunclebook. (Click here). There's spoilers there so if you haven't read the novel, then check out Austenbook by DeeDee Baldwin instead.

19 comments:

  1. What a good persephone to start 2010 with - as you know it is one of my favourites!

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  2. Hi - this sounds great. I enjoyed Miss Pettigrew but not quite as much as everyone else did if you know what i mean so i am looking forward to trying this. i am travelling back to London for a flying visit this weekend so will have to make time for the lovely Persephone shop. Thanks for the recommendation... Hannah

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  3. You enjoyed it more than Miss Pettigrew? I must read this...

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  4. @Hannah - I felt the same about Miss Pettigrew...it was ok but not great.

    @JoAnn - If you loved Pettigrew, you'll definitely love this!

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  5. 'Miss Buncle's Book' is fantastic! Thanks for the 'Facebook' link - very clever :)

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  6. Thanks for the review! I'm fairly certain that I would not have stumbled across this book on my own, but now I think that I may just have to add it to my rainy day reading list!

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  7. Hooray. I have this one in my TBR. I have been hoarding it.

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  8. Bunclebook... love it :-)
    Thanks for your review. It was my first Persephone and I still like to read people's thoughts about it.

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  9. This sounds like a hoot! I really need to get a few Persephones to read.

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  10. This sounds brilliant! I got it for Christmas so as soon as I am done with Mr Yates I think I will pick it up for some much needed light relief! Great review!

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  11. I need to read this! I think my mum probably has it, so I'll have to try to get it next time I'm at my parents' place.

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  12. hi there - wonderful blog - should have come over here earlier!! xoxo

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  13. This sounds like such a delight! I think it'd be perfect for me right now. Must treat myself to a Persephone order soon....

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  14. Back again... there's an award for you today:
    http://lakesidemusing.blogspot.com/2010/02/winter-awards-sharing-love.html

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  15. I have purchased quite a few Persphone books this Winter, getting started again with Stacey's Persephone Santa...I saw this particular book you reviewed in the catalog several times, but I haven't been compelled to read it until now after reading your review. Personally, I didn't love Miss Pettigrew as much as the rest of the world. ;)

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  16. I so want this book--I've not bought any new Persephones for quite a while, so maybe it's time to put together an order. And I've not yet read a Persephone this year--I'm thinking I need to read Dorothy Whipple, but I need to finish a few other books first...

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  17. This book was recommended to me a while ago - sounds like it's definitely worth the read!

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  18. What excellent book posts you have written on your site! So many titles for future reads. Thank you!

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  19. I haven't read my first Persephone of the year yet :(. I plan to soon!

    A whimsical, perfect Sunday afternoon read is exactly what I will be saving this for.

    Apologies, I've been behind on my blog commenting and had saved this one in my google reader to come back and comment.

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