Miss Buncle's Book

Miss Buncle's Book

by D. E. Stevenson


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"Watch as Barbara Buncle blossoms and finds within herself the strength that's always been there, just waiting for its chance. RECOMMENDED READ"—Dear Author

Who Knew One Book Could Cause So Much Chaos?

Barbara 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 Bunde'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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402270826
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 196,299
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

D.E. Stevenson (1892-1973) 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 United States.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Breakfast Rolls

One fine summer's morning the sun peeped over the hills and looked down upon the valley of Silverstream. It was so early that there was really very little for him to see except the cows belonging to Twelve-Trees Farm in the meadows by the river. They were going slowly up to the farm to be milked. Their shadows were still quite black, weird, and ungainly, like pictures of prehistoric monsters moving over the lush grass. The farm stirred and a slow spiral of smoke rose from the kitchen chimney.

In the village of Silverstream (which lay further down the valley) the bakery woke up first, for there were the breakfast rolls to be made and baked. Mrs. Goldsmith saw to the details of the bakery herself and prided herself upon the punctuality of her deliveries. She bustled round, wakening her daughters with small ceremony, kneading the dough for the rolls, directing the stoking of the ovens, and listening with one ear for the arrival of Tommy Hobday who delivered the rolls to Silverstream before he went to school.

Tommy had been late once or twice lately; she had informed his mother that if he were late again she would have to find another boy. She did not think Tommy would be late again, but, if he were, she must try and find another boy, it was so important for the rolls to be out early. Colonel Weatherhead (retired) was one of her best customers and he was an early breakfaster. He lived in a gray stone house down near the bridge-The Bridge House-just opposite to Mrs. Bold at Cozy Neuk. Mrs. Bold was a widow. She had nothing to drag her out of bed in the morning, and, therefore, like a sensible woman, she breakfasted late. It was inconvenient from the point of view of breakfast rolls that two such near neighbors should want their rolls at different hours. Then, at the other end of the village, there was the Vicar. Quite new, he was, and addicted to early services on the birthdays of Saints. Not only the usual Saints that everybody knew about, but all sorts of strange Saints that nobody in Silverstream had ever heard of before; so you never knew when the Vicarage would be early astir. In Mr. Dunn's time it used to slumber peacefully until its rolls arrived, but now, instead of being the last house on Tommy's list, it had to be moved up quite near the top. Very awkward it was, because that end of the village, where the old gray sixteenth-century church rested so peacefully among the tombstones, had been all late breakfasters and therefore safe to be left until the end of Tommy's round. Miss Buncle, at Tanglewood Cottage, for instance, had breakfast at nine o'clock, and old Mrs. Carter and the Bulmers were all late.

The hill was a problem too, for there were six houses on the hill and in them dwelt Mrs. Featherstone Hogg (there was a Mr. Featherstone Hogg too, of course, but he didn't count, nobody ever thought of him except as Mrs. Featherstone Hogg's husband) and Mrs. Greensleeves, and Mr. Snowdon and his two daughters, and two officers from the camp, Captain Sandeman and Major Shearer, and Mrs. Dick who took in gentlemen paying guests, all clamoring for their rolls early-except, of course, Mrs. Greensleeves, who breakfasted in bed about ten o'clock, if what Milly Spikes said could be believed.

Mrs. Goldsmith shoved her trays of neatly made rolls into the oven and turned down her sleeves thoughtfully. Now if only the Vicar lived on the hill, and Mrs. Greensleeves in the Vicarage, how much easier it would be! The whole of the hill would be early, and Church End would be all late. No need then to buy a bicycle for Tommy. As it was, something must be done, either a bicycle or an extra boy-and boys were such a nuisance.

Miss King and Miss Pretty dwelt in the High Street next door to Dr. Walker in an old house behind high stone walls. They had nine o'clock breakfast, of course, being ladies of leisure, but the rest of the High Street was early. Pursuing her previous thoughts, and slackening her activities a little, now that the rolls were safely in the oven, Mrs. Goldsmith moved the ladies into the Colonel's house by the bridge, and the gallant Colonel, with all his goods and chattels, was dumped into Durward Lodge next door to Dr. Walker.

These pleasant dreams were interrupted by the noisy entrance of Tommy and his baskets. No time for dreams now.

"Is this early enough for you?" he inquired. "Not ready yet? Dear me! I've been up for hours, I 'ave."

"Less of your cheek, Tommy Hobday," replied Mrs. Goldsmith firmly.


At this very moment an alarm clock started to vibrate furiously in Tanglewood Cottage. The clock was in the maid's bedroom, of course. Dorcas turned over sleepily and stretched out one hand to still its clamor. Drat the thing, she felt as if she had only just got into bed. How short the nights were! She sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed and rubbed her eyes. Her feet found a pair of ancient bedroom slippers-which had once belonged to Miss Buncle-and she was soon shuffling about the room and splashing her face in the small basin which stood in the corner in a three-corner-shaped washstand with a hole in the middle. Dorcas was so used to all this that she did it without properly waking up. In fact it was not until she had shuffled down to the kitchen, boiled the kettle over the gas ring, and made herself a pot of tea that she could be said to be properly awake. This was the best cup of the day and she lingered over it, feeling somewhat guilty at wasting the precious moments, but enjoying it all the more for that.

Dorcas had been at Tanglewood Cottage for more years than she cared to count; ever since Miss Buncle had been a small fat child in a basket-work pram. First of all she had been the small, fat child's nurse, and then her maid. Then Mrs. Buncle's parlor maid left and Dorcas had taken on the job; sometimes, in domestic upheavals, she had found herself in the role of cook. Time passed, and Mr. and Mrs. Buncle departed full of years to a better land and Dorcas-who was now practically one of the family-stayed on with Miss Buncle-no longer a fat child-as cook, maid, and parlor maid combined. She was now a small, wizened old woman with bright beady eyes, but in spite of her advancing years she was strong and able for more work than many a young girl in her teens.

"Lawks!" she exclaimed suddenly, looking up at the clock. "Look at the time, and the drawing-room to be done yet-I'm all behind, like a cow's tail."

She whisked the tea things into the sink and bustled round the kitchen putting things to rights, then, seizing the broom and the dusters out of the housemaid's cupboards, she rushed into Miss Buncle's drawing-room like a small but extremely violent tornado.

Breakfast was all ready on the dining-room table when Miss Buncle came down at nine o'clock precisely. The rolls had come, and the postman was handing in the letters at the front door. Miss Buncle pounced upon the letters eagerly; most of them were circulars but there was one long thin envelope with a London postmark addressed to "John Smith, Esq." Miss Buncle had been expecting a communication for John Smith for several weeks, but now that it had come she was almost afraid to open it. She turned it over in her hands waiting until Dorcas had finished fussing round the breakfast table.

Dorcas was interested in the letter, but she realized that Miss Buncle was waiting for her to depart, so at last she departed reluctantly. Miss Buncle tore it open and spread it out. Her hands were shaking so that she could scarcely read it.



Brummel Street,

London EC4

-th July.

Dear Mr. Smith,

I have read Chronicles of an English Village and am interested in it. Could you call at my office on Wednesday morning at twelve o'clock? If this is not convenient to you I should be glad if you will suggest a suitable day.

Yours faithfully,

A. Abbott

"Goodness!" exclaimed Miss Buncle aloud. "They are going to take it."

She rushed into the kitchen to tell Dorcas the amazing news.

Customer Reviews

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Miss Buncle's Book 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 219 reviews.
An_Arkansas_Reader More than 1 year ago
Written in the 1930’s when neighborhood gossip was the social media, Miss Buncle’s Book tells the story of the village of Silverstream after spinster Barbara Buncle writes a novel about the town and its residents. Though, she uses a pen name and different names for the village and its residents, her neighbors are able to see themselves in her work, and for the most part they don’t like what they see. This is a witty, old-fashioned story about human nature. Reviews of this book described it as “cozy” so I was hoping for something in the vein of Alexander McCall Smith or Miss Read. It wasn’t cozy in that way – it didn’t make me want to stop and smell flowers or enjoy a sunset the way their works do, but Miss Buncle’s Book was a good story told simply. I enjoyed reading about the clothing and manners of the time, though am glad I don’t live in a village like Silverstream where my every action is a source of gossip and judgment. I am glad I met Miss Buncle and do plan to read this story’s sequel. Recommended for fans of Jane Austen and Persophone Classics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed reading this book; in fact, I've stayed up reading way into the "wee hours" because I couldn't sleep until I found out how it turned out. Now to read the other book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved D E Stevenson’s books for decades. I love Miss Buncle’s book, it is a gentle read that grabs
Medic_Chick05 More than 1 year ago
the cover caught my attention so when i read the back, i decided i had to buy this book! a later found out it was written in the 1930s and i am so happy it has recently been reissued for its a simply charming book!! i have lost sleep because i couldnt put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This wonderful book was a pleasure to read and I have a new author to add to my library. Beautifully written, charming, and funny, Miss Buncle and her village are perfect company.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
charming story, quick read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do not usually like books which were published a long time ago. This free Friday offering was published in 1934. It is 242 pages long. It starts off a little slow and is very tame by today's standards. Reading this book was like entering a whole other world. It was a time more innocent then the one we now experience. Yet it was also a time when money was scarce and everyone is caught up in themselves, just like today. I did not think I would enjoy this book at all, but I liked it very much. It was perfectly edited. The characters were a real hoot. It was funny and charming. In some places it was laugh out loud funny. There was no violence, cursing, or adult themes. There was a mention of Religion. It is set in England and the author has the servants speaking in English brogue. This is chick lit. I would recommend it for readers 16 and up, but I really think only the older generations will enjoy this book. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have enjoyed Ms Stevens books for years, but have never heard of the Miss Buncle series. I love the first one and looking forward to the next one soon. If you like gentle English genre stories, this one is for your library.
JerriC More than 1 year ago
Written in the 1930's, this delightful book is full of fun and laughter. It can transport the reader to a different time and place, and if you have never before read the works of D. E. Stevenson, introduce you to an author to love. I have read Stevenson's works for many years, and Miss Buncle's Book is one of her best and funniest. Miss Buncle, living in the small village of Silverstream, is short of money. Gentlewomen in that time and place didn't work outside the home, so to raise money she writes a book. And, she uses her neighbors and village as inspiration. When the book is published and becomes a best seller, the villagers recognize themselves and are determined to find and punish the author. Much laughter ensues as complications abound, and all is resolved in the final chapter. Once you have read this book, you will want to move on to the next two in the series, Miss Buncle Married and The Two Mrs. Abbotts. I am so delighted that this series is now available in eBook format and the delightful paperbacks from Sourcebooks. May they publish many more books by D. E. Stevenson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The way that the charachters imitate themselves makes you want to scream for the irony. Love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't know anything about Stevenson and as I read couldn't place it in history. Just as Miss Buncle writes stories about the people in her village, Stevenson may have been used real people as his stereotypes for this novel. The dialogues is witty and the stories invite you in. Two things kept it from being a 5. One, Miss Buncle's character was not as drawn out as I would have liked. I wanted to know more about her. Second, sometimes the author repeated dialogue. Perhaps that is how people spoke in Great Britain during that era and I don't have enough background knowledge. However, I truly enjoyed the story and looked forward to each reading session to see what would happen next. I'll read more by this author.
pedigreedmutt More than 1 year ago
i did enjoy this book. bought the next one and enjoyed it too. Like a period piece but human nature remains the same. glad i read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. It is charming, sweet and gentle and a joy to read!
BuggleB More than 1 year ago
If you like watching Downton Abbey, you will enjoy this book! I admit, it was a little hard to get into the book in the first few chapter. The author took some time establishing the characters who later intertwine and all play out well in the end. However, once I got everyone's name/role straight, the book was quite charming, enjoyable and smartly written. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book about an author who writes her first book under a pseudonym --BUT---the whole town is incensed to find the characters drawn from her own friends & neighbors but they aren't "quite"?? CERTAIN
Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got tired of waiting to find a reasonably priced Persephone edition of Miss Buncle's Book, about which I had heard so many raves, so I downloaded an audio version. Wonderfully read by Patricia Gallimore, it was a true delight! (And I'm not one who usually cares much for humorous novels.)As other LT reviewers note, Miss Buncle writes and publishes under the pseudonym of John Smith a book based on observations of her fellow villagers, and quite a hoopla erupts as they recognize themselves in 'Distruber of the Peace,' which soon becomes a best-seller. I'm not going to spoil the fun by adding any further details (and I strongly advise that you skip the longer LT reviews, which contain far too many spoilers). Suffice it to say that I'm on the prowl for more books by D. E. Stevenson; she was a real find for me!I do want to comment on the cover illustration I've posted, which gives the impression that Miss Buncle is in her 50s (or even her 60s). Details in the novel reveal that she is still in her 20s. Of course, the illustration could be one of Stevenson's older characters--but one would expect the person featured on the cover of Miss Buncle's Book would be Miss Buncle herself! The same illustrator has done the cover for the sequel audiobook, and this time it is age-appropriate.
nordie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miss Buncle, now on reduced means, writes a book about the village she lives in. It gets published under the nom du plume "John Smith", and to her surprise is a publishing sensation, turning her fortunes around. However, not all of the villagers are happy. Miss Buncle has portrayed them as they are, and some take offence, particularly those who are not portrayed in a particularly bad light. ("It's not me, I'm not like that, but it's clearly me and I declare it libel!"). Months are then spent trying to find out who John Smith is and when incorrectly identified, the woman is persecuted, snubbed and her children kidnapped. Meanwhile other more positive outcomes occur as a result of the book - the Colonel and his next door neighbour get married, and the vicar escapes the clutches of a gold digger who thinks he has more money than he does.And Barbara Buncle gets more than she ever imagined.....A book within a book, within a book, it is a lovely afternoon read, well worth the republish by Persephone.
chinquapin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Barbara Buncle is a quiet, unassuming middle-aged spinster living in Silversteam, a typical English village in the 1930s. Her income comes from sadly declining dividends, and so she decides to try her hand at writing a novel to earn some needed funds. Surprised and pleased, Barbara finds her book is accepted by the publishers Abbot and Spicer and printed under the psuedonym John Smith. Her book is a thinly veiled depiction of Silverstream village life, and some of the unflattering portrayals of local inhabitants causes quite a stir. But while local tyrants, busybodies and ne'er-do-wells foment and call for the book's demise, Barbara quietly takes notes and begins a sequel at the urging of her publisher, Mr. Abbot. The resulting antics are hilarious. I found this book charming and amusing. Miss Buncle is such a humble and unpretentious heroine to have caused such an uproar, and all the village characters are so convincing. If your library has not purged this hidden gem from the 1930's, I highly recommend it, especially if you want a good laugh.
Niki_Estes More than 1 year ago
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 in and those around her. Though she changes the names of the village and it's occupants, some of those who find themselves as characters in her book are less than enthusiastic about how they are portrayed (though they easily recognize themselves). They set out to uncover just who among them is "John Smith." Funny, charming, and all together delightful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this little gem of a book. It is beautifully written and laugh-out-loud funny. Although it is set in a small English village during the early 1930s, it has a timeless feel to it. I'll definitely read more books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Going to the libraryy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book. It is actually making me look at the people in my daily life with new interest hoping to glimpse the story underneath the exterior