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Miss Buncle's Book

(Miss Buncle #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  7,101 ratings  ·  1,313 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
Paperback, 299 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published 1934)
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4.06  · 
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 ·  7,101 ratings  ·  1,313 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I've got some GR friends who are D.E. 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, since her investments aren't paying dividends like they once were. Casting
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
"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 m
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
This was a very delightful book.

My full review is found on my book blog:
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, kindle, british

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.
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
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
Abigail Bok
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sherwood Smith
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
Jacob Proffitt
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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?

That's when
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
Carolyn Hill
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming and laid back read with plenty of humour. Really relaxing to read a ‘simple’ story from the 1930s.
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
Niki Estes
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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)
John Frankham
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A second re-read confirms this as an absolute delight.

A re-read proves a delight - again. Few novels have made me smile/laugh gently as much, or given as much pleasure. Real characters abound!

This 1934 novel, beloved by so many then and in recent years when re-published by Persephone Books, is a delight. Miss Buncle, dowdy village spinster, starts writing a novel to make up her falling income, and writes with scant disguise about her own village and its inhabitants. When it is published, and peo
Miss Barbara Buncle is an unassuming spinster who fallen upon hard times. She has no obvious work skills, and after discarding the idea of keeping hens, decides to write a book based on her own English village. She sends her book to Mr. Abbot, a London publisher, who reads it with delight and publishes it as “Disturber of the Peace” under the name “John Smith.”

Miss Buncle has based all the characters on her own friends and neighbors. Because she described the residents in such detail, changing
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely ADORED this book. I'm adding this to one of my favorites. Ever.

First off, it was hilarious! Like, laugh out loud funny. If you've read the book--the scene where a meeting was held to figure out who John Smith was--I die!

Second, you wouldn't think that a book about a lady writing a book would be riveting--but it totally was! I couldn't put it down. I'm *so* excited to read the next in the series!

What a wonderful book. Books like this are few and far between. It will be totally wor
Carol Evans
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Miss Buncle’s Book is delightful. Barbara Buncle needs to make some money and decides that writing a book is the perfect solution, much better than raising hens, but all she knows is her small town, so the people she sees every day become the characters, simply re-named. Miss Buncle sees her neighbors quite clearly, though, and not everyone is happy with their portrayal. Happily she wrote under a pseudonym, otherwise, her life would be miserable.

Miss Buncle’s book, Disturber of the Peace, is als
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Full name: Dorothy Emily Stevenson.
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 or Dorothy L. Sayers (to name but a few) her books are funny, intensely readable, engaging and dependable

Other books in the series

Miss Buncle (4 books)
  • Miss Buncle Married (Miss Buncle, #2)
  • The Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle, #3)
  • The Four Graces (Miss Buncle, #4)
“What fools the public were! They were exactly like sheep…thought Mr. Abbott sleepily…following each other’s lead, neglecting one book and buying another just because other people were buying it, although, for the life of you, you couldn’t see what the one lacked and the other possessed.” 8 likes
“Some people’s elegance was only skin-deep, scrape off a little bit of the veneer and you got the real wood—common” 6 likes
More quotes…