- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 763 KB
- Print Length: 263 pages
- Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (9 Jan. 2012)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006VOJZL4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,186 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Miss Buncle’s Book Kindle Edition
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Unassuming, overlooked, unmarried Barbara Buncle, lives on her own in a nice cottage in the village of Copperfield; she observes her neighbours with an innocent but penetrating eye. In a village addicted to gossip, she keeps her observations to herself, until, desperate to raise some money, she artlessly, it seems, shapes them into a novel - rather similar to the one we are reading. When it's published under the pseudonym John Smith, the cat's among the pigeons. People recognise themselves in her characters and react in different ways. Some are outraged at having their pretensions and foibles exposed - they become the enemy, getting up a campaign to expose and punish the culprit; others take the hint and change their ways; some are even prompted into marriage (there are a lot of couples getting married in this book) or set out on long-deferred travel.
Barbara herself finds her life changing for the better, though her position in Copperfield becomes increasingly untenable as the hunt for the identity of the book's author gets heated, even reckless. But she's a writer now and can't help herself, and soon she's penning a second volume. Life, and a happy proposal, show her not just how to end her second book - an ending which even she couldn't foresee - but how to resolve her own predicament in the village. Ruefully, she learns that to be a novelist of one's own social circle is to be a spy, and no one likes to have a spy in their camp, however benign and truthful they are. She also learnt that in a way the author acts not just a mirror to her characters but a clairvoyant too, one who can be a catalyst for change.
Part of the fun of this book is in the structure, which plays games with the reader. The publisher reflects on the manuscript of the second novel thus: "Mr Abbot never read a novel about a woman who wrote a novel about a woman who wrote a novel - it was like a recurring decimal, he thought, perhaps even more like a perspective of mirrors such as tailors use in which the woman and her novel were reflected back and forth to infinity."
The novel is in the tradition of 'Cranford' and EF Benson's 'Mapp and Lucia' stories, full of similar amusing, colourful, contrasting characters. Another triumphant reprint from Persephone Books.
Almost to take her mind off her situation she writes a book about the inhabitants of the fictional Copperfield. She sends it off to a publisher who immediately recognises a best seller when he sees one. Written under the pseudonym of John Smith the book sells like hot cakes - especially to her fellow residents of Silverstream - the inspiration for Copperfield.
What happens when Barbara's friends and neighbours recognise themselves all too well and decide to try and find out who exactly the author is makes an amusing read. I found myself chuckling at the way people reacted to the book and the ways they tried to plot and plan to expose the author. The book is well written and the characters are marvellously well drawn.
If you enjoy authors such as Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Taylor and Angela Thirkell then you will almost certainly enjoy D E Stevenson.
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