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Group Reads > April 2018: Miss Buncle's Book Spoilerland & Open Discussion

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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 spoiler discussion and open discussion of the novel and Stevenson's writing.


message 2: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 03, 2018 08:36AM) (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments I really enjoyed it, up till the kidnapping of the twins - sorry, that was ridiculous! And no repercussions, which appeared to be the case? I can’t believe it. Knocked me right out of the story, and knocked off a 1/2 Star to 3.5.


message 3: by Kavan (new)

Kavan | 85 comments I walked my four stars back to a three based on the twin twist and the whole Buckle can't even invite friends to her wedding due to her authorship. Not to mention the whole Sally/Vicar thing which I cannot believe any one thought was a good idea.


message 4: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Oh, I forgot about Barbara not being able to invite friends to the wedding- does seem unfair and excessive.


message 5: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Reading your comments made me laugh, because my reactions were so different! My only complaint was that after the twins' kidnappings, Sarah actually talked to those people while they were waiting to get to Miss Buncle. I liked that it was partly to score off them by saying that she had known that John Smith was Barbara, but, seriously, I cannot imagine anyone taking off with my kids, even for a few hours, without serious repercussions happening. Even if there were no "proof", at the very least, I would have made sure the entire community knew what had happened.

I like the Sally and her Vicar twist; I thought Stevenson laid the groundwork for that one quite clearly. It's obvious that Sally's going to make a superb vicar's wife - look at how cleverly she got rid of Vivian! The idiots (villains) in the book treat her as a child, but the rest are quite aware that she's not. Even Miss Buncle admires her and sees her as capable.

I'm wondering if Miss Buncle will have her real friends at her wedding. Dorcas, of course, will go with her, but I'm just betting that the Doctor's family will quietly get an invitation. And she's really not close to the rest of them, is she?

I read that this was Stevenson's second novel, appearing after a gap of 9 years. Comparing it to her later works (the ones I've been able to get ahold of), I found it a bit edgier, a bit less obviously happy-ever-after. I'm thinking that was probably because there were more unpleasant characters in this one. How I wish an entire collection would fall into my hands, so that I could read them in order!


message 6: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Oops! Mrs. Tim was her second book, published in 1932, and Miss Buncle was later, published in 1934.


message 7: by Susan in NC (last edited Apr 05, 2018 10:06AM) (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Yes, the fact that Sarah spoke to them at all blew my mind! I like to think Sarah and John, and maybe the former Miss Bold, would be at Barbara’s wedding. Oh, and maybe Sally! I agree, I think she’ll be a good vicar’s wife - she’s generous and kind, but worldly enough to spot a snake!


message 8: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 198 comments I liked the romance between Sally and the Vicar -- did we find out how old he is? He might be a lad of 21 or 22. And girls did marry young in those days, plus Sally had a lot of real life experience under her belt.


message 9: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments He was fresh out of seminary, I think, since this was first living, so probably early twenties, as you said, Elinor! And Sally's been keeping house for her father for several years and will be 18 or 19 before they marry (she was 17 at the start of the book, right?). I think they'll take to it like ducks to a village pond!


message 10: by Barb in Maryland (new)

Barb in Maryland | 485 comments Count me as another fan of Sally and earnest Ernest Hathaway. I pictured him as 24 or 25 (university and then the seminary?); an innocent lamb with a very good heart. Sally will certainly widen his horizons.


message 11: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "Count me as another fan of Sally and earnest Ernest Hathaway. I pictured him as 24 or 25 (university and then the seminary?); an innocent lamb with a very good heart. Sally will certainly widen his..."

Yes, an innocent lamb who just isn't used to ... people!


message 12: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments And I feel good about them because they’ve been reading together and having good conversations- I think that’s a good sign!


message 13: by Kate (new)

Kate (sraelling) | 7 comments it was pleasant to watch Barbara's transformation to Elizabeth, not just in her own eyes, but how "strangers" saw her. From not having to worry about money, to learning how wonderful the perfect dress can make you feel, to finding a soulmate, it was like watching a timid "mouse" finally find her voice.

I agree that the kidnapping was a bit jarring. Perhaps it was included because the Lindbergh kidnapping happened in 1932?

I also was glad that Ernest Hathaway discovered the true Vivian before it was too late. Sally is a much better fit.

From the Author's Introduction: "A strange sort of wisdom has developed in the woman, and this is true to life. How dreadful it would be if people did not learn to be better and wiser from their mistakes."


message 14: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 198 comments Vivian was awful, wasn't she? And to tell the poor vicar that for enough money, she would marry the devil himself! No going back on those words!


message 15: by Kavan (new)

Kavan | 85 comments The Vivian reveal as with the twin twist (great phrase for it) went a bit to far for me. Stephenson would be going along with the charming village bit and then all the sudden there were these quasi-jarring moments like discussions of a horse whipping and tots spirited away. Vivian struck me as a pretty run of the mill marrying for money sort...then all the sudden she makes that statement ...it felt a bit off.


message 16: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments I think Vivian was meant to be seen as much worse than a money-grubber. The letter from her friend towards the beginning of the book shows that she's cold-blooded and completely selfish. A nasty bit of goods.


message 17: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Piper (rachelpiper) | 11 comments I devoured this book within a couple of days, mostly listening on audio. I found the proposed horse-whipping amusing but the kidnapping to be a bit much.

I knew there was one sequel but was surprised to see that there are two more after that. Has anyone read those? I found this story and its characters so funny and/or charming; I'm wondering if Miss Buncle is really the draw, though, or the villagers around her.


message 18: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Rachel wrote: "I devoured this book within a couple of days, mostly listening on audio. I found the proposed horse-whipping amusing but the kidnapping to be a bit much.

I knew there was one sequel but was surpr..."


I wasn't as fond of The Two Mrs. Abbots, as I remember, but Miss Buncle does pretty much remain herself - which is a serious plus! The Four Graces is supposed to be a Miss Buncle, too, but she's a very minor character in it. I think I need to read them all in order again...


message 19: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Finished yesterday; here’s my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 20: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments I'm reading Miss Buncle Married, and just as Miss Buncle herself is becoming more on-purpose humorous, so is Stevenson. There are several portions that made me snort with delighted laughter.


message 21: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments I should give it a try! Thanks for the report, Karlyne.


message 22: by Karlyne (last edited Apr 23, 2018 09:01AM) (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Abigail wrote: "I should give it a try! Thanks for the report, Karlyne."

We've had a seriously stressful week, with the sudden death of my husband's favorite boss (and friend) Thursday, and another close friend, who's only 62, suffering a stroke Saturday night. Then, our daughter's father-in-law (who's only in his early 50s) found out that the cancer he's been battling for about 10 years has become un-treatable, tumors starting to break his bones, which are weak from the years of chemo. Our other daughter's father-in-law just had to go back in hospital to have his leg re-amputated as there was "shrapnel" left in the surgery they performed about 2 months ago. The bad part is that we're close to and respect all of these men and it feels as though they're leaving in the prime of their lives!

But, anyway, that's why I'm sticking to the light and sort-of frivolous for awhile. I even found my beloved Louis Lamour a bit too serious for me the other day!


message 23: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Oh, I’m so sorry, Karlyne! You have it coming at you from every angle! It’s funny—I’m in a very stressful situation right now too (though not as tragic as yours), and I found Miss Buncle a bit too fluffy for my mood. I’ve retreated into murder mysteries—my current favorite series, Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache. I needed more darkness with my light.


message 24: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments I've been there, too! "Die, Villain, Die" suits my mood when dealing with stressful, annoying people who are just breathing up my air and won't go away!

Weirdly, all last week I felt like there was a black cloud of something hanging over us, and after all this, I felt like the stereotypical char in a British whodunit: "Cooo, I jest knew there was going to be bad happenings." No, I'm not psychic nor am I the type to enjoy "nerves", and, I've decided, I can do without the stomach-wrenching anticipations. Life is so odd.


message 25: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Karlyne wrote: "Abigail wrote: "I should give it a try! Thanks for the report, Karlyne."

We've had a seriously stressful week, with the sudden death of my husband's favorite boss (and friend) Thursday, and anothe..."


So sorry, Karlyne!

Abigail, I love Golden Age mysteries that are literate, have dry humor, and you know you’ll get a sure fire resolution, not always the case in real life. Haven’t gotten to Gamache, yet, but have heard great things! ( I like to let a series build up before I start it - like $$ in the bank to look forward to reading!)


message 26: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments My favorite go-to when people are annoying me is Miss Melville Regrets by Evelyn Smith. Wish-fulfillment!


message 27: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Abigail wrote: "My favorite go-to when people are annoying me is Miss Melville Regrets by Evelyn Smith. Wish-fulfillment!"

I hadn't heard of it, so I looked it up, and it looks like fun! There have been times when, for the good of society, of course, I've thought of that kind of wish-fulfillment...


message 28: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments Karlyne wrote: "Abigail wrote: "My favorite go-to when people are annoying me is Miss Melville Regrets by Evelyn Smith. Wish-fulfillment!"

I hadn't heard of it, so I looked it up, and it looks like ..."


Of course! Ok, off to look it up...


message 29: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1328 comments I hope you ladies realize your recommendations are making my TBR pile grow ever higher...


message 30: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments Heheheh, that’s what we’re here for! It’s all a nefarious plot.


message 31: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 198 comments By the time I add all of Stevenson's books, and and then all of Angela Thirkell's books, the pile grows higher. Although I would still rather read an author I know and love than a bad book by an unknown author, which I guess is why we all belong to this wonderful group!


message 32: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Elinor wrote: "By the time I add all of Stevenson's books, and and then all of Angela Thirkell's books, the pile grows higher. Although I would still rather read an author I know and love than a bad book by an un..."

Yep! My sentiments exactly!


message 33: by Mir (new)

Mir | 11 comments Kavan wrote: "The Vivian reveal as with the twin twist (great phrase for it) went a bit to far for me. Stephenson would be going along with the charming village bit and then all the sudden there were these quasi..."

I thought some of these less plausible elements were there to make the plot match more with the way Barbara's novel becomes less realistic as it goes on.


message 34: by Mir (new)

Mir | 11 comments Abigail wrote: "My favorite go-to when people are annoying me is Miss Melville Regrets by Evelyn Smith. Wish-fulfillment!"

Thanks for the rec! I like The Blue Castle for this mood. Especially the bit where she thinks she's dying and tells off all her relations.


message 35: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Miriam wrote: "Abigail wrote: "My favorite go-to when people are annoying me is Miss Melville Regrets by Evelyn Smith. Wish-fulfillment!"

Thanks for the rec! I like The Blue Castle for..."


That's my favorite Montgomery, I think!


message 36: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 673 comments I haven’t read any Montgomery, but keep meaning to do so. Maybe I’ll accumulate some for a period of recuperation later this year!


message 37: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments When they're good, they're very, very good. This one is a bit of a heart-tugger, but it's
funny!


message 38: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 198 comments The Blue Castle is excellent, with a plot that is more complex than some of Montgomery's other books. In fact, the plot was copied by Colleen McCullough for her novel The Ladies of Missalonghi, although she later denied it.


message 39: by Mir (new)

Mir | 11 comments Elinor wrote: "The Blue Castle is excellent, with a plot that is more complex than some of Montgomery's other books. In fact, the plot was copied by Colleen McCullough for her novel [book:The Ladies ..."

The plot similarities pretty much spoke for themselves, though.


message 40: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments From the sounds of The Ladies of Missalonghi, it was very similar. How odd that the publisher didn't recognize it! I did read The Thorn Birds, and although I enjoyed it, it was tiring!


message 41: by Mir (new)

Mir | 11 comments Maybe Blue Castle was out of print at the time? Before goodreads I don't think I knew anyone outside of my mother's family who had read it. And they all read the same copy that had belonged to my great-grandmother.


message 42: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Miriam wrote: "Maybe Blue Castle was out of print at the time? Before goodreads I don't think I knew anyone outside of my mother's family who had read it. And they all read the same copy that had belonged to my g..."

Maybe so, Miriam! It looks like it wasn't re-published until 1987, which was when The Ladies of Missalonghi was first published. Kind of weird, isn't it?


message 43: by Mir (new)

Mir | 11 comments Indeed. Even now, with text search so easy, publishers sometimes don't catch plagiarism. I suppose the onus is really on the author -- although I don't understand how anyone thinks they'll slide by these days. Maybe some just want the money and don't care about integrity.


message 44: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments I have forgotten the term for a work sub-consciously remembered and then written about (I think it can refer to music, too), but I remember Helen Keller having done it and being called to account for it. I think I remember that she was able to convince her judges that she had not plagiarized, but simply re-told a story that she had not even remembered reading.

I'm wondering if, since McCullough's book was published right around the time The Blue Castle was re-published (and so not readily available to her), if that was what had happened to her. I'd like to think so, anyway.

I'll try to find the word I'm thinking of! (On a side note, I have read things written by myself -in my own handwriting- and not remembered them. Obviously, I'm sympathetic to memory retention issues...)


message 45: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Cryptomnesia! What a cool word!


message 46: by Mir (new)

Mir | 11 comments That is a good word! I don't think I've suffered from that, but I've certainly done the other thing, read things written by myself and not remembered them. Including a couple term papers, which really made me wonder. How sleep-deprived was I that semester?!


message 47: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments I read just the other day that Louis Lamour read some words of his own that he was shocked to realize actually were his own. I think "wordy" people have so much to say, and have said so much, that they often do forget. Not the sentiments, but the actual words!


message 48: by Mir (new)

Mir | 11 comments I buy that.

Also I can imagine that if you heard something when you were young, read by your parents or that sort of thing, you might unconsciously repeat it in your writing without realizing you'd read or heard it somewhere.


message 49: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 364 comments I finished the book last night and I really enjoyed it, but the first half was better than the last for sure.
I had been looking forward to Vivian Greensleeves really getting what she had coming to her after trying to con The Vicar and wasn't satisfied by the very end, where they find Miss Buncle is gone so they can't yell at her (or whatever would have happened). but, over-all, great book and I will look for more by the same author.


message 50: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1945 comments Some people would rather eat worms than be yelled at, so I understand her flight! I thought it funny that she left her home so easily, without a thought to returning, but the sequel gives us more insight into who she really is and what she wants.


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