Review: Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson

MissBunclesBook_CVR.inddBarbara Buncle is in a bind. Times are harsh, and Barbara’s bank account has seen better days. Maybe she could sell a novel … if she knew any stories. Stumped for ideas, Barbara draws inspiration from her fellow residents of Silverstream, the little English village she knows inside and out.

To her surprise, the novel is a smash. It’s a good thing she wrote under a pseudonym, because the folks of Silverstream are in an uproar. But what really turns Miss Buncle’s world around is this: what happens to the characters in her book starts happening to their real-life counterparts. Does life really imitate art?

A beloved author who has sold more than seven million books, D. E. Stevenson is at her best with Miss Buncle’s Book, crafting a highly original and charming tale about what happens when people see themselves through someone else’s eyes.

Review by Sophie

What first caught my attention was the plot. I thought I wouldn’t have enjoyed it because it did not fit any of my reading genres. Yet, I was intrigued by how the author was going to write this book. Since this is a book about the main character writing a book. The main protagonist, Barbara Buncle, wrote the book called “Disturber of the Peace” based on her experience in her village.  Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson was a leisure and light book. Additionally, many characters in the books were described as such real people. In the first few chapter, I could feel my brain clicking and turning the cogs as the whole village came to life. It’s been a few months since I finished this book so some pieces are missing to me. Still, I remembered enjoying it. I remembered enjoying Barbara Buncle’s development in making new friends, her growing confidence, her admiration and love towards a certain someone. Further, I liked how the characters in the book start partially mirroring the characters in Barbara’s book.

There were many storylines and plots unfolding.

A gold digger, a angry and rich village matriarch, a young new villager, the main protagonist love story, a long waited lovestory predicted in the village by Barbara, and a kidnapping. Yeah, life gets complicated when you write a book base on the people around you.

Barbara Buncle is in the mid to late 30s. She lives a simple life and is polite to her neighbors. Although she is invited to village brunches and teas, Barbara isn’t really part of the group in the village. Her clothes are always faded because she doesn’t bother to buy new clothes. She is struggling to get by and resorts to writing a book. She discovers her talent in writing literature and is able to make enough money to even get a new haircut, hat and coat. As a reader, I felt happy for her when she is asked out for lunch by her publisher, when she makes friends with Sally, and when she built a huge bonfire.

Although I did find Barbara a bit bland sometimes, I could really relate to her feelings and the way her mind works.

Barbara watched it all with interest; it was such fun to watch people and see how they reacted to one another’s personality.

She had lived for so long among these people and has suffered so many afternoon teas that she was able to say the expected thing without thinking about it at all. You simple put a penny in the machine and the expected thing came out at once…

… and sped along the street to see Sarah, feeling guilty, and happy, and worried, all at the same time. Guilty because of the holiday, happy because she was going to see Sarah whom she loved, and worried because Stephen had been so queer.

This quote by Mr. Abbott caught my eye.

“People are made differently–and how fortunate that they are; what a dull world it would be if we were all alike! one person can do one thing and another person can do something else. Together we shall be complete, invincible, perfect.”

Recently in my English AP class, we were learning about the dynamics in factional conflicts and McCarthyism towards witchcraft in the novel/playwright The Crucible and I found that is was quite similar to Miss Buncle’s Book. It was quite similar in the sense that people in Silverstream started accusing people in the villages of being the author who wrote Disturber of the Peace. As sales climbs for the book Disturber of the Peace, tension rose as the village people were unhappy with the characterization of themselves. When witches were put on trial in The Crucible, this mirrored the village meeting in Miss Buncle’s Book.

Grade: 5 out of 5. I don’t have anything to compare it to but this is a light book and fun to read because as the reader, you get to enter this village where so many little things happen. It may seem like a quiet boring village but when you step into the lives of the villagers, it is rich with story.

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