Retro Reads discussion

26 views
Group Reads > April 2018: Miss Buncle's Book Chapters 1-29

Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kavan (new)

Kavan | 85 comments So for April we are buddy reading Miss Buncle's Book written by Scottish novelist D. E. Stevenson in 1934. The novel concerns the goings on that happen when an author decides to pen a novel about her fellow villagers.. Naturally chaos and humor soon follows.

This post is for discussion of the novel. I'm going to open up a separate post for spoilers. And as always remember to put spoilers inside of spoiler tags, and reference the chapter they're in, so other readers will know whether it's safe for them to open your spoiler.

So far this novel actually reminds me of a Joan Plowright movie Widows Peak and it seems to fit in the cozy village category as well. It's absolutely a slice of life and I'm only 19% in but I feel like I'm really getting a glimpse of early 20th century village life which is hugely enjoyable.

I look forward to hearing what you all think of this novel.


message 2: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽, Moderator (new)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1217 comments Mod
Thanks for setting this up, Kavan! I read Miss Buncle's Book just a year or so ago (and don't own a copy, unfortunately) so I'll be watching from the sidelines rather than reading along. But I think everyone in this group who reads this will enjoy it greatly!


message 3: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments I read it first time a year or so ago, but had just read a Thirkell and Lucia by Benson (one of my personal challenges- finish Barsetshire so I can restart, and reread Lucia). Anyway, because of those two excellent (IMHO) village series, I kept doing a Buncle - “oh, that character is the drama queen bee like Lucia, that’s the drunk, lonely military guy, like Major Benjy,” etc. and this book suffered by comparison- those authors,especially Benson, make me laugh out loud, this made me smile.

This time I read Huck Finn right before this - I’m still making comparisons in my head occasionally, but I’m trying to really get into the social comedy of this awkward situation- but I’m really feeling sorry for Barbara! Yes, she obviously has a sharp satirical eye, but I really think she’s just painfully honest. It is amusing and telling that only the nastiest people in the village see themselves in Disturber of the Peace (except the writers wife, she’s such a doormat her name escapes me! She spots herself once her friend prompts her to, but only because she recognizes her husband the tyrant!)


message 4: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Miss Buncle trying on clothes in London reminds me of Miss Pettigrew!


Barb in Maryland | 477 comments Susan in NC wrote: "I read it first time a year or so ago, but had just read a Thirkell and Lucia by Benson ... and this book suffered by comparison..."

Good point, Susan. Timing is everything in our enjoyment of a book.
I'm having a great time so far. After reading (and enjoying) 'Miss Pettigrew', I wasn't quite ready to leave that time period.


message 6: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 194 comments LOVE this book. I'm very fond of books about village life (and since I live in a real village, albeit a Canadian one, much of the description rings true) and I particularly admire the dry British sense of humour (or Scottish, in this case). Thanks to whomever recommended this lovely little book.


message 7: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1944 comments I picked up Stevenson's Listening Valley last week and waltzed my way through it with a lot of smiling, so I'm glad Miss Buncle is this month's read. It is hard to leave her world!


message 8: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Yes, I’m enjoying it more this time - it’s a gentler world, in some ways, than Benson’s - more like Thirkell’s Barsetshire. I’m finishing up today, loving how Ernest is being protected by Sally and his housekeeper, from his “snakey” fiancé; good men are so clueless!


message 9: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1944 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Yes, I’m enjoying it more this time - it’s a gentler world, in some ways, than Benson’s - more like Thirkell’s Barsetshire. I’m finishing up today, loving how Ernest is being protected by Sally and..."

Oh, boy, ain't that the truth! The better a man's heart the softer his brain.


message 10: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Karlyne wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Yes, I’m enjoying it more this time - it’s a gentler world, in some ways, than Benson’s - more like Thirkell’s Barsetshire. I’m finishing up today, loving how Ernest is being pr..."

Amen, sister!

Well, I finished, and it’s still 3.5-4 stars for me. I just can’t help comparing to the sharper humor I find in Benson’s Lucia novels; I like it and would recommend it as a cozy, gentle, humorous novel, but I’m sorry, that plot twist at the end involving Sarah’s twins (sorry, don’t remember how to do spoilers), was just a bridge too far for me, and I knocked off 1/2 a star for me. Knocked me right out of the story, and apparently there were no repercussions.


message 11: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽, Moderator (last edited Apr 02, 2018 09:36PM) (new)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1217 comments Mod
Susan, to spoiler tag a comment just type the word spoiler with a carat on either side, and at the end type /spoiler, again with a carat on either side. You can see an example if you click on (some html is okay) above the comment box.

Or just move your comment to the spoiler thread. :)

I haven't heard much about the Lucia novels by Benson - I'll have to check them out.


message 12: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Thank you, I appreciate it, I didn’t know if we had a spoiler thread for this book.

Definitely check them out (Lucia) - they’re very much like Miss Buncle, (upper class villagers with time on their hands), but snappier; some might say snakier, but such fun!


message 13: by Linda (new)

Linda Dobinson (baspoet) | 57 comments I read Miss Buncle's Book a few months ago and loved it so much I am now on The Two Mrs. Abbotts.

Susan, I didn't think of Silverstream being like Riseholme and Tilling, but yes, there is a comparison. I have to ask - who did you like best Lucia or Elizabeth? In the TV series I felt sorry for Elizabeth but when I read the book it was Lucia for me. Of course, Benson gives us Georgie - a joy, a total joy :) I haven't come across anyone like him in Thirkell.


message 14: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1944 comments The conversation between Sarah and Margaret (where Sarah explains just what Margaret's husband is up to) made me chuckle, but when Margaret reads Miss Buncle's Book and realizes how true it all is and that she could never actually leave because of how much she loves the children - well, that part made my eyes water.


message 15: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Linda wrote: "I read Miss Buncle's Book a few months ago and loved it so much I am now on The Two Mrs. Abbotts.

Susan, I didn't think of Silverstream being like Riseholme and Tilling, but yes, t..."


I preferred Lucia over Elizabeth until I got to the last Lucia book, then I saw how isolated lucia was; but I felt sorry for both women, at various times.

I loved Georgie- and no, no obvious parallel in Thirkell! I guess I just prefer my village tales a bit sharper in humor, like Benson always was and Thirkell could occasionally be; I really enjoyed parts of Miss Buncle, but the fact that there was apparent consequences for the stunt with the twins - sorry, that just ticked me off!


message 16: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Karlyne wrote: "The conversation between Sarah and Margaret (where Sarah explains just what Margaret's husband is up to) made me chuckle, but when Margaret reads Miss Buncle's Book and realizes how true it all is ..."

Yes, I was touched by that scene as well, and that mother love which Sarah clearly has for her twins would’ve made it impossible for me at least, to overlook what happened to the twins!


message 17: by Kavan (last edited Apr 03, 2018 06:34PM) (new)

Kavan | 85 comments Ms. Featherstone-Hogg is such a trip. I mean I'm sure she'd be a perfect nightmare to live near-but as a character she is perfectly golden. She coolly advises someone should be horsewhipped and decides who is best to do said horsewhipping, only to acknowledges to herself she has no idea what that actually involves. A perfect character for this type of story.

Karlyne wrote: "The conversation between Sarah and Margaret (where Sarah explains just what Margaret's husband is up to) made me chuckle, but when Margaret reads Miss Buncle's Book and realizes how true it all is ..."

I also liked how DES pointed out how people like Sarah in good marriages always think they wouldn't accept the behavior of men like Margaret's husband, whereas Margaret shows why women stay in bad marriages.


message 18: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1944 comments I just finished the horse-whipping passage, and, although I laughed at her, I agree she'd be a menace to actually know in person. Rather than have to talk to her, I'd hide in a tool shed, too..

Margaret is a good example of someone who really is unselfish, someone who always puts others ahead of herself - especially her children. I'm glad she has Sarah for some relief. How alone she'd be without her.


message 19: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 639 comments I’m in chapter 10 and enjoying my reread, though it’s perhaps a little to gentle for my mood right now. Will return to my current addiction, Louise Penny’s murder mysteries, afterward.

What’s interesting me this time around is that as much as Disturber of the Peace shows the people of the village from Miss Buncle’s point of view, Miss Buncle’s Book shows Miss Buncle from the villagers’ (and publisher’s) point of view—kind of an inverse mirror.

The whole faun-like creature coming in to town and piping to bring out the wild side of the people routine was, by the time this was written, a very hackneyed trope. Much more popular in the 1910s and 1920s, or even back to the 1890s. It’s hard for me to believe the publisher would find the book original or surprising. My fave book of the genre is Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner.


message 20: by Linda (new)

Linda Dobinson (baspoet) | 57 comments Abigail wrote: "I’m in chapter 10 and enjoying my reread, though it’s perhaps a little to gentle for my mood right now. Will return to my current addiction, Louise Penny’s murder mysteries, afterward.

What’s inte..."


I was looking for an 'L' for my A-Z :)


message 21: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1944 comments Abigail wrote: "I’m in chapter 10 and enjoying my reread, though it’s perhaps a little to gentle for my mood right now. Will return to my current addiction, Louise Penny’s murder mysteries, afterward.

What’s inte..."


I got the impression that what made Disturber of the Peace so good was its portrayal of its people rather than the actual Disturber, but I do know what you mean. The whole catalyst-to-change-behavior idea has been around since man learned to write. Ha! I just thought as I'm revisiting a bit of Louis Lamour, that Westerns are full of it, too! Maybe it's true that there are no new stories, just different ways of telling the same one...


message 22: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Karlyne wrote: "Abigail wrote: "I’m in chapter 10 and enjoying my reread, though it’s perhaps a little to gentle for my mood right now. Will return to my current addiction, Louise Penny’s murder mysteries, afterwa..."

So true! I find myself reading mysteries these days, after 40 + years of them, and thinking “a-ha, there’s the bad guy, there’s the sneak with a guilty conscience, there’s the cheating husband”, etc. - nothing new under the sun! But I still keep reading- every now and then, I find an author with a slightly different approach, or a new setting I’ve not encountered before, and I’m off on my magic carpet again!


message 23: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 639 comments I think you’ll enjoy it, Linda! The author has quite an Austenesque pen when it comes to human foibles.


message 24: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Just added it to the never -ending TBR pile - sounds lovely! Thanks for the recommendation, Abigail.


message 25: by Jackie (last edited May 17, 2018 07:42AM) (new)

Jackie | 355 comments What’s interesting me this time around is that as much as Disturber of the Peace shows the people of the village from Miss Buncle’s point of view, Miss Buncle’s Book shows Miss Buncle from the villagers’ (and publisher’s) point of view—kind of an inverse mirror.

I am about halfway through Miss Buncle's Book and really enjoying it. we do see Miss Buncle through everyone else's eyes, and it feels like only Mr. Abbot the publisher can see what's best about her.

I've just gotten to the scene where Mrs. Featherstone Hogg is trying to get what's actually happening into what's passing for Colonel Weatherhead's brain. he's so dumb! she's so annoyed! I love it.


message 26: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 355 comments the book only has 28 chapters, I feel like an idiot asking but why is the thread for chapters 1 - 29..??


message 27: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1944 comments I love Colonel Weatherhead's brain! He's got a bit of cunning for someone so forthright!


message 28: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1288 comments Jackie wrote: "What’s interesting me this time around is that as much as Disturber of the Peace shows the people of the village from Miss Buncle’s point of view, Miss Buncle’s Book shows Miss Buncle from the vill..."

Lol! That was fun and funny!


back to top