I am reviewing this book as part of the #1936club, initiated by Simon David Thomas of ‘Stuck in a Book’and Karen of ‘Kaggsy’s Bookish Rambling’.
To take a look at other books published in the same year, reviewed by other bloggers, please take a look at the round up posts that should be up on the previously mentioned blogs. This is a really lovely way to learn more about themes that may have been a common focus at a particular time in history.
In ‘Miss Buncle’s Book’ – the first in the series – a thirty-something, unmarried woman, by force of circumstance has to take to writing to support herself when her dividends don’t bring in as much income as expected.
As the woman, Barbara Buncle, has NO imagination whatsoever, she writes from experience, portraying events and characters from the English village she lives in.
Her books are a massive success and all is well … until… several people in her village recognise themselves as characters in the book and are angry that they have not been portrayed in the most favourable light. And there is a hunt on to unearth the identity of the mystery novel writer.
The writing is wonderful, the characters are brilliant. What more can I say? If you need a nice light read this summer, you will definitely enjoy this one.
However, the pick of my reading for the #1936club is ‘Miss Buncle Married’ – so let’s focus on this sequel.
In ‘Miss Buncle Married’ – Barbara and her husband find themselves in the strange predicament of being so involved in the social life of the community in their little corner of Hampstead, that they hardly have an evening to call their own, to enjoy each other’s company. An endless string of bridge evenings and listless suppers fill up their social calendar. When both Barbara and her husband discover that neither of them enjoy these social soirées they realise that the only way to extricate themselves from this entanglement is to move to a quiet neighbourhood, preferably in the country. As Barbara’s husband describes the perfect house nestled in the countryside, a vision befalls Barbara’s eyes and she feels she cannot rest until she has found their paradise.
So ensues several months of house hunting in the surrounding countryside. One day, almost upon the point of giving up, Barbara stumbles upon the perfect house, dilapidated but with fine features, having a beautiful garden in a sleepy old Elizabethan town called Wandlebury. However, at the lawyer and house agent’s office involved with showing the house to Barbara, one of the lawyers mistakes Barbara for someone else, residing in the village of Wandlebury and makes her privy to that person’s last will and deed. The lawyer is mortified when he discovers his mistake and Barbara must keep her knowledge a secret even though all sorts of complications ensue regarding the terms of the will. To make matters worse, Barbara is struck with another urge to write about the people and places of Wandlebury. Will Barbara and her husband need to uproot themselves from Wandlebury and a chance of living their best life, once again in order to flee the wrath of their neighbours?
The Miss Buncle books are brilliant light-hearted comfort reads. The second book in the series fell under a similar formula to the first one with a few differences. There was a twist in the tale with the addition of the will. We are introduced to some new and endearing characters – especially Sam and new neighbour and horse enthusiast Jerry. An artist family who live just next door are also food for inspiration for Barbara – supplying character inspiration and memorable quotes.
Though I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Miss Buncle’s Book – there were some particular elements and themes to enjoy in the sequel. The descriptions of Archway House in Wandlebury, which Barbara and her husband decide to renovate are lovely. A quiet, witty, playful story, a handful of interesting and varying characters who live in an English village, romantic entanglements, funny, cringeworthy situations regarding missing trousers – these are all things to love in the book. Barbara’s gradual character development both as a writer and as a more mature person are also points to be noticed.
It’s also interesting to note that even though we are on the cusp of the Second World War, money of the tremours of the impending war penetrate the calm environs of a Wandlebury. There are severally references to Barbara’s husband’s active service during the Great War, however, and several grumblings about the lack of initiative of the then, present generation of young men, namely the nephew of Barbara’s husband, Sam.
The end of Miss Buncle Married made me eager to pick up the next book in the series. Now that, is surely the sign of a good book.
Many thanks to Simon and Karen for hosting this book club. Do check out their blogs for other book reviews written during 1936.