Book Review: Miss Buncle’s Book by DE Stevenson


Howdy-doody I loved this book. After all the seriousness of the Art of the Novella challenge I was desperately in need for a quick, light hearted read, and Miss Buncle filled the bill. And how.

I bought this book as part of my original Persephone order in 2009 but for some reason I have been avoiding it. I think it I was reserving it for a rainy day, but I think I was also worried that I may not like it as much as everyone else and I would be let down.

Miss Buncle’s Book is the story of Barbara Buncle who writes a novel in the hopes of making some money. Never having written a book, and having, as she notes frequently, no imagination, Miss Buncle largely transcribes the daily lives of the folks she knows in her small village of Silverstream. The second part of the novel (entitled Disturber of the Peace) is where reality is left behind as Miss Buncle takes her very real characters into uncharted waters. It doesn’t take long after publication for Disturber of the Peace to become a bestseller that sets the real village of Silverstream on its ear. And then some of the fictional parts of Miss Buncle’s book start to come true.

This book was sheer delight. I loved the story and I loved the cast of characters. The villains were villainous without being over the top and the many sympathetic characters were so wonderfully drawn the book literally had me smiling while I read it.

Often I fantasize about books I like being filmed. But I must say, I don’t want Miss Buncle’s Book put on a screen large or small. I found the book so perfectly enjoyable and the characters so wonderful that I have no desire to see someone try and dramatize it. Granted I would watch the results if they did, but I really don’t want anything to compete with what I remember from my read.

In the land of My Porch hyperbole I have been known to wax rhapsodic about many a book, and in particular about many a Persephone. But Miss Buncle’s Book climbs right to the very top of my list of favorite Persephone titles. There are still a few titles jostling with Miss Buncle for supremacy (more serious affairs like Crompton’s Family Roundabout and Whipple’s many wonders) but Buncle has a levity that just can’t be beat.

And the best part is there are 39 other novels by DE Stevenson for me to find and explore.

If you own this one and haven’t yet read it (Darlene I am looking at you), it is time to take it off the shelf and get to it.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Miss Buncle’s Book by DE Stevenson

  1. Michelle Ann September 4, 2011 / 9:07 am

    Glad you enjoyed this – it has also long been one of my favourite books! However, I should warn you that although DE Stevenson is a very good story teller, and I have enjoyed her books, Miss Buncle's Book is in a class of its own. Most of her other books are straight-forward romanic novels set in the Scottish lowlands.


  2. Frances September 4, 2011 / 9:21 am

    Have wanted to read this one since I finished Mrs. Tim of the Regiment so happy to hear it was so delightful. I find myself in the same position as you after Art of the Novella – craving something different, indulgent, lighter. Just read Pirate King but now have fallen off the lighter trail with third volume of Your Face Tomorrow. Which I love.


  3. Karen K. September 4, 2011 / 9:41 am

    This is one of my favorite Persephones too! It was one of my first, and it's still at the top of my best-Persephones list. I'm glad you liked it.


  4. Mystica September 5, 2011 / 6:31 am

    Sounds delightful. A bit like 84 Charing Cross Road – loved the intimacy/the details of everyday life.


  5. Juxtabook September 5, 2011 / 9:22 am

    I have D E Stevenson's Vittoria Cottage in stock and have been intending to read it before someone buys it. I must get on and do so. Also I picked up my first ever Dorothy Whipple book at the library last week having kept your June review of Because of the Lockwoods in my head over the interveneing weeks.


  6. Kim September 5, 2011 / 9:31 pm

    Okay, Mr. Thomas, I will definitely add this one to my list.


  7. StuckInABook September 6, 2011 / 9:23 am

    I am the voice of discord, because although I loved the idea behind the book, and enjoyed reading it, the poor writing really let it down for me. I kept thinking how wonderful it would have been had EM Delafield taken the same idea.

    However, I loved Mrs. Tim of the Regiment, particularly the first half of it. I also love the picture in your post today – where's it from?


  8. musingsfromthesofa September 6, 2011 / 3:40 pm

    I just read this and really enjoyed it! Good to know there is so much more DE Stevenson out there!


  9. Thomas at My Porch September 6, 2011 / 10:43 pm

    Michelle Ann: That is very good to know. I wonder how I will like the others. I just bought a few on ebay, so I will find out soon enough.

    Frances: I need to get Mr. Tim.

    Karen K: Easy to see why it is one of your favorites.

    Mystica: Thanks for stopping by.

    Juxtabook: Which Whipple did you get?!

    Kim: I think you will be happy you did.

    Simon: I don't know what you mean by poor writing in this case. Nothing jumped out at me as being poor writing, but then again I am not the most analytical reader. I can't find where I got the photo, but I think it may have been from Persephone and I think it is a cover illustration from an early edition.

    Musings: It really is enjoyable isn't it.


  10. StuckInABook September 7, 2011 / 9:49 am

    I went back to my own review, to see what I didn't like, and I wrote that there were a lot of cliches. I like to be a bit surprised by the ways authors use words, or take paragraphs in directions you wouldn't expect. I felt like DES just went with the expected linguistic flow all the way through. (Glad you liked it, though!)


  11. Nan September 9, 2011 / 3:27 pm

    I dearly love this book. DE Stevenson is a wonderful writer.


  12. Thomas at My Porch September 10, 2011 / 6:52 pm

    Simon: Well I wouldn't disagree about the cliches. But what wonderful cliches.

    Nan: I can't wait to read the second one.


  13. Peggy September 20, 2011 / 9:32 am

    Sounds wonderful! Now to find a copy that doesn't cost an arm and a leg! Goodreads doesn't even have D.E. Stevenson listed!


  14. Thomas at My Porch September 22, 2011 / 2:58 pm

    Peggy: Keep your eye on e-bay for Miss Buncle. Sometimes she shows up there.


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