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Miss Buncle's Book

(Barbara Buncle #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  8,375 ratings  ·  1,542 reviews
Barbara Buncle is in a bind. Times are harsh, and Barbara's bank account has seen better days. Stumped for ideas, Barbara draws inspiration from fellow residents of her quaint English village, writing a revealing novel that features the townsfolk as characters. The smashing bestseller is published under the pseudonym John Smith, which is a good thing because villagers reco ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published 1982 by Ulverscroft (first published 1934)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
My favorite D.E. Stevenson book! Humor-filled read in a 1930s-era English village.

I've got some GR friends who are Stevenson fans, and finally, after reading this book, I feel like I really understand their love for her novels. Written in 1936 and set in about that same time, Miss Buncle's Book captures the charm of life in a small English town and the various characters who live there, with all their foibles.

Miss Barbara Buncle, a single lady in her thirties, is having trouble making ends meet
"Mr Abbott had never before 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, or 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."

10 STARS or possibly more!

This was the first book I read by D.E. Stevenson and it is PERFECTION. The enormous satisfaction / entertainment value was the same on reading it for the 2nd time.

It gave
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers, writers, people who find themselves cast as characters in novels
Shelves: books

I loved Miss Buncle. I loved Miss Buncle's Book*. I loved Miss Buncle's book. I loved the book within Miss Buncle's book.

Barbara Buncle is in serious need to some income to support herself and her elderly nurse. What's a genteel spinster to do when she has no skills and women don't get jobs? Write a book? Keep chickens? She hates chickens! A book it is, then.

Having, by her own assessment, no imagination, Miss Buncle decides to simply record the daily life of her small town, changing her neighbor
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Miss Buncle's Book is wise, funny and sweet. It's the story of a middle aged lady who needs money and decided to write a book. She has no imagination, so she writes about what she knows, the people in her small, English village. Those who are kind and decent get treated well, those who are venal, unkind and obnoxious get their comeuppance in her story.

Of course, the book is accepted and published and when it comes out, her nasty neighbors are not amused and want the anonymous author's head on a
Miss Buncle's book within a book is pure delight. I found myself smiling at just about every turn of the page. If you enjoy cozy British village tales this will be just your cup of tea. But it's not too sweet--there is enough sharply observant social satire to keep the reader wide awake and enough plot twists so that I was loathe to stop reading even in the midst of a glorious holiday weekend.

Miss Barbara Buncle's dividends have been cut and she is living in her village of Silverstream in a stat
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very delightful book.

My full review is found on my book blog:
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Miss Buncle writes a story about the village she lives in she has overlooked what might happen if it is published. Being a quiet and unconfident person she doesn't really expect it will but soon it becomes a best seller much to the anger of those that inspired the characters. (view spoiler) this el ...more
5 Stars!
Absolutely charming and hilarious! Perfect character driven fiction. If you love Jane Austen you need to read this book.
Paul Secor
Lightweight, yes. BUT Miss Buncle's Book, Disturber of the Peace (the book within the book), and Barbara Buncle herself are completely charming. I found myself chuckling again and again at the humor and truth found in this novel.

I should mention that this was the first Persephone book I've bought and read, and that I was impressed by the presentation. Evidently the covers of Persephone books are uniform in style (at least all of the copies I saw in a local store were) -grey covers with a white b
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, british, kindle

A gently satirical look at English village life in the 1930s. Somewhat of a cross between Angela Thirkell and Peyton Place, I loved Miss Buncle, Silverstream and all the characters in this charming book.
Abigail Bok
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you’re in need of taking a nice, long soak of a bath in British sentimentality, this is the book for you. D. E. Stevenson’s books in general are at the sweet end of the spectrum, and this is no exception.

Miss Buncle is a not-so-young woman living alone (well, except for her maid, Dorcas, played for humor in that unconsciously classist way British writers of a certain era have of treating menials) in the village of her birth. Her money is drying up—as it is for many of her neighbors—and she h
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, audible
It's 1930 England and Barbra Buncle is having a hard time making ends meet so she decides to write a book to make a little money. What could be so hard about that? Well, for Miss Buncle, it turns out to be very simple. As she explains to her delighted editor when asked how she came up with the idea for her brilliant book she explains, "I have no imagination so I write about what I know." What she knows best is the town in which she has lived for decades and all of it's inhabitants. The book gets ...more
Sherwood Smith
Feb 11, 2012 added it
Shelves: fiction
One of my favorite comfort reads of all time. I hope someone will shift it to ebooks so it can be rediscovered.

It's one of those quiet books that take place between the wars in England. Though Jane Austen's name gets wrongly invoked for a lot of fiction about village life, this time I think it's close, for there is a satiric edge to the story of a plain, seemingly boring spinster in a small village who has, without anyone knowing about it, written a book.

To her immense surprise, it gets publishe
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miss Barbara Buncle, unassuming frumpy-clothed spinster in her mid-to-late thirties, is in a bind- she needs money to support herself and her elderly nanny/turned motherly maid. There are just few respectable ways for an unmarried woman living in a small English village of Silverstream in the 1930s to earn income.

Keeping hens? No, she didn’t like even touching them; they are such fluttery things, aren’t they?

Paying guests? But there is already an establishment in Silverstream.

Writing a book? S
Jacob Proffitt
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chaste, romance
A recent comment on Sherwood Smith's review of this book brought it to my attention (via GoodReads' odd feed dynamic). With an accolade of "One of my favorite comfort reads of all time." you know I had to check it out. And what a gift that was!

This book is complex and layered with three different levels playing out simultaneously. Which would be cool enough on its own, but it buries all of that under an entertaining style and pitch-perfect characterization that held me firmly in its grasp from b
4 1/2

This was such a funny book within a book!

Barbara Buncle is a quiet, unobtrusive spinster who lives in Silversteam. To all accounts she is a bit of a, shall we say… an imbecile. (this is the opinion of the villagers not the reader) She has awful grammar, frumpy clothes and a worn house. She needs money desperately. If she can't make some somewhere she will be in a terrible fix. Shy, good natured Barabra is in a quandary as to how to get this money, after all, what can she do?

If I had a list for books that was labeled simply "charming," Miss Buncle's Book would certainly top the list. A thoroughly charming book from start to finish.

Barbara Buncle's dividends are down and finances are getting tight. Realizing that she must do something to bring in more income she briefly considers keeping hens or taking in boarders but neither seem very appealing. After a comment from her maid, Miss Buncle decides to write a book. The only problem is that she is not a writer and does
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An utterly Charming, and delightful story of village life. It's a really easy read (just what I needed after a cold), but it's not until you get to the end that you realise just how clever it is, like looking into a hall of mirrors, a book, within a book, within a book, and so on, until it all ties together beautifully.

Miss Buncle is a spinster in rather desperate need of money as her dividends are no longer paying out. She isn't keen on the idea of chickens or paying guests so she settles on
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, own, favorites
I sit here deep in thought after finishing this little surprise-nougat filled-chocolate of a book. What Christopher Nolan did for Inception and Satoshi Kon for Paprika is here encapsulated in a cozy little read about life in a small English town during the 30s.

Mr. Abbott, one of many secondary characters in the novel, sums it up pretty accurately:"Mr. Abbott had never before 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,
I just love fun and campy British reads especially those from an earlier era. Barbara Buncle is in desperate need of some fast cash and decides to write a novel in hopes that the sales generate some extra dough. Being someone who isn't very imaginative or bright she relies on the lives of her neighbors as inspiration. Confused whether or not the book is satirical or just entertainingly honest, Mr. Abbott- Buncle's publisher, decides to publish her book. It becomes a sensation overnight with sale ...more
Betsy Robinson
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because she needs money, Miss Barbara Buncle writes a novel exposing all the people in her small town of Silverstream.

What absolute fun is this book, published in 1934, about a writer writing. Not much has changed in human and writer nature, and that makes this cozy novel retain its edge. It’s a light, fun read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and learning that its Scottish author, D. E. (Dorothy Emily) Stevenson (1892–1973), had an enormously successful (and lucrative) writing career, despite her p
What a delightful treasure! Brilliant! I enjoyed every second with this book. It is a lovely place to study human nature. Miss Buncle is low on funds and decides to write a book. She makes it about everyone in her small town. She aptly names the book Disturber of the Peace and it becomes a best seller. Everyone is up in arms at their being portrayed accurately in the book. But, the author’s alias of John Smith makes it difficult to know who it is.
Read this book if you want to laugh, smile, and
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So wholesome, clever, and readable. Feels very modern even though it was written in 1936. I loved it and will have to read the next one in the series soon.
Carolyn Hill
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I must be in a 1930's frame of mind. Maybe it's the economy. I recently read the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery and just watched I Capture the Castle again. Anyway, I happened upon a review of this 1934 classic, was intrigued, and then found it at the library (amazingly they hadn't purged it). The only thing I can think to compare this to is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, though the stories have little in common except a rather plain and impoverished but perceptive protagonist. Miss Buncle's Book ...more
Miss Barbara Buncle is a poor spinster living in the English country village of Silverstream where nothing ever happens and nothing ever will. When the Depression comes to Silverstream, Miss Buncle has to do something to earn money so she takes up her pen to write a book. She pens a novel about Silverstream and the inhabitants of the town. A London publisher, Mr. Arthur Abbott, loves the book so much, he decides to publish it. He can't decide if the author is a satirical genius or a simpleton. E ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the village of Silverstream, poor Barbara Buncle is in distress. Her ever-increasing economies simply cannot keep pace with her dwindling dividends. Should she try keeping chickens? No, they’re rather alarming. In desperation she decides to write a book, and, knowing little else besides the goings-on of her village, she writes a thinly veiled description of her friends and neighbors. Surprisingly, Miss Buncle’s book not only gets published, it becomes a best-seller. Critics are in violent dis ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Buncle has written a book entitled Disturber of the Peace about the sleepy little village of Copperfield. It turns out to be a smash—until the sleepy little village of Silverstream recognizes its reflections in the text. DUN DUN DUN.

1. This is a perfect little froth of a book. It's light and well written; it's interesting and varied; it has optimism about the world around us. It was exactly what I needed and I'm so glad I read this.

2. (view spoiler)
Niki (nikilovestoread)
Absolutely delightful! I love D. E. Stevenson's writing and can't wait to read more of her books. Reading it was like finding a lost literary treasure to enjoy. I'm hoping more of her books will be reprinted. First published in 1934, it's a glimpse at a simpler life in the English countryside. Miss Buncle finds herself in need of money when things get tight. She decides to write a story, but feeling she has no imagination, the only thing she can think of to write about is the village she lives i ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Miss Buncle's Book feels exactly like the literary version of a giant cup of tea on a rainy day. It is cozy, soothing, and absolutely delicious. I've quite lost my heart to it!
The book has a timeless quality to it that for a while left me thinking I'd picked up recently popular historical fiction. I was stunned to find it was written 1934! Of course, that explains some things, like the ending which I did not absolutely love. But it also just adds to the overall charm.
I went in skeptical of the
Miss Buncle's Book is exactly what I needed. It "worked on me like a tonic". It is charmingly set between the wars in a small English village ( that's practically a guarantee for success right there, isn't it?) that is peopled with an eclectic population of folk that are not all as neighborly as they could be. Mousy Miss Buncle writes a novel about them all and their reactions to reading about themselves in that book make up all the fun that happens next. I loved the twists and turns of the clev ...more
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Dorothy Emily Stevenson was a best-selling Scottish author. She published more than 40 romantic novels over a period of more than 40 years. Her father was a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson.

D.E. Stevenson had an enormously successful writing career: between 1923 and 1970, four million copies of her books were sold in Britain and three million in the States. Like E.F. Benson, Ann Bridge, O. Douglas

Other books in the series

Barbara Buncle (3 books)
  • Miss Buncle Married (Miss Buncle, #2)
  • The Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle, #3)

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