A Harmonious Whole

harmonious-whole

The Baker’s Daughter by D.E. Stevenson
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark (2016) pages 86-87

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January Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading

egg and spoonEgg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire
I’ve just started this one, but so far I am liking it!  It’s full of Russian folklore and history and involves a case of mistaken identity between two girls… one who’s rich and one who’s poor.

 

 

 

Far From The Madding CrowdFar From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy’s fourth book was originally published in 1874 and tells the story of a shepherd named Gabriel Oak who falls in love with Bathsheba Everdene.

 

 

 

Fading Into The LimelightFading Into The Limelight by Peter Sallis
This is the actor’s autobiography.  He has appeared in a lot of shows over the years but my favorite of his characters is Norman Clegg from Last Of The Summer Wine.

 

 

 

the greatest knight

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Originally published in 2005, this historical fiction follows the life of William Marshal.

 

 

 

Books Finished In January

listening valleyListening Valley by D.E. Stevenson
Another great book from D.E. Stevenson!  The story starts in the Scottish countryside when Tonia is a child and very much dependent on her older sister.  As the years pass though, and Tonia’s sister gets married and moves away, a friend of the family helps Tonia gain confidence in herself.  A majority of the story takes place during WWII and the events of the war shape the story both in London and back in Scotland.

 

 
summer halfSummer Half  by Angela Thirkell
This is the fifth book in the Barsetshire series. Despite his family’s desire for him to study for the Bar, Colin Keith decides to take a teaching job at Southridge School.  There are a lot of great new characters in this one and some from previous books as well.  The Birketts have a large role in the story and Tony Morland is back!

 

 

quick curtainQuick Curtain by Alan Melville
This detective story from the 1930’s has been republished by the British Library Crime Classics.  While there is a mystery that needs to be solved (the leading man gets shot onstage during the opening night of his show) this is more of satire on the detective genre of the time.  I loved the ending!  It reminds me of a longer, slightly more detailed version of Murder By Death.

 

 
murder undergroundMurder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay
This is another story that’s been republished by British Library Crime Classics.  The wealthy Miss Pongleton is murdered on the stairs leading to an underground station.  There are plenty of suspects… no one seemed to like her very much. The other occupants of the boarding house where she lived start an investigation of their own and a lot of details are thrown around as the suspects try to keep their story straight.

 

 
letter for the kingThe Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt
This was originally published in Amsterdam in 1962 but has since been translated into English.  Tiuri and some other boys are secluded in a chapel the night before they are to become knights.  Tiuri’s vigil is interrupted though when an old man knocks on the door looking for help.  Tiuri agrees to help him and leaves the chapel. An action that puts his chances of becoming a knight in jeopardy but sets him on a journey that could save a kingdom.

 

 
man of some reputeA Man Of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson
This is the first book in the Very English Mystery series.  When a new job takes Hugo Hawksworth to Selchester, it’s arranged that he and his young sister will move into the castle.  They’re not there very long when a skeleton is discovered in an old chapel at the castle.  It’s the body of the Earl who has been missing seven years.  Hugo, with help from his sister and others in Selchester, work to solve the murder.

 

 
village schoolVillage School by Miss Read
This is the first book in the Fairacre series and it’s an absolutely charming story!  Miss Read is a schoolteacher in the English village of Fairacre, a place brimming with intriguing characters.  This story takes you through the school year, and highlights the challenges and joys that each new season can bring.

 

 

Excellent WomenExcellent Women by Barbara Pym
Originally published in 1952, this book is about a spinster in 1950’s England.  Mildred Lathbury has had a quiet, uneventful life until the new neighbors move into her building.  She’s fascinated by them and soon finds herself becoming involved in their lives.

 

 

 

Miss Buncle’s Book

A lot of our New Year’s resolutions focus on money.  Saving money is probably the first one that comes to mind but what if your goal was to make more money?  How would you go about doing that?  When Barbara Buncle realized she needed to make some extra money a few ideas came to her mind… like keeping hens or taking in paying guests.  But these ideas didn’t really appeal to her and Dorcas, her maid, definitely did not approve of them.  Then Dorcas offers up her own suggestion… Miss Buncle should write a book.

Miss Buncle's Books

There’s just one problem with this idea though; Miss Buncle “can only write about what I know… At least I can only write about people that I know.  I can make them do things, of course.” (page 15)  So using her village of Silverstream and its residents as inspiration, Miss Buncle wrote her book under the pseudonym of John Smith.  The Disturber of the Peace was a huge success and it didn’t take too long for her neighbors to read it and realize that it sounded very familiar. Mrs. Walker was the first to read it: “As she put on a piece of coal, her mind, freed from the witchery of the printed page, swept back over what she had read.  It might be Silverstream, she thought. Copperfield – Silverstream – how queer!  And Major Waterfoot is exactly like Colonel Weatherhead, and Mrs. Mildmay might easily be Dorothea Bold -” (pages 43-44)

Needless to say, the book caused quite a stir in Silverstream and many were not pleased with the way they were portrayed.  Thoughts quickly turned to who the author really was. “Who on earth could have written this book? Somebody in Silverstream obviously; somebody who knew everybody in Silverstream…” (page 44)  Not everyone thought the book was a bad thing though, “‘He’s wakened them all up,’ Sally was saying, “wakened them all up and made them see themselves as others see them.'” (page 98)

While the residents of Silverstream try to figure out who John Smith really is, Miss Buncle is hard at work on the sequel, The Pen Is Mightier… which is bound to cause even more trouble.

Miss Buncle’s Book was my first introduction to D.E. Stevenson and I enjoyed every bit of it!  I’ve read several more of her books since and she has become one of my favorite authors.  I definitely plan on re-reading this book and the other books in the Miss Buncle series again soon!

Just One More Thing: What first drew me to this book was the cover (I know… I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover).  I love what Sourcebooks Landmark did with their reprints of D.E. Stevenson’s books.  They are beautiful!

From The Cover: 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.

This Edition: Paperback published by Sourcebooks Landmark (2012)

You Might Also Like: Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

2015 Favorites

2015 was a pretty good reading year for me.  I ended up reading about 80 books… a big improvement on 2014!  Here are my top 10 favorite reads of 2015:

ivanhoe10.  Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
With the exception of some excerpts in school, this was the first book of Scott’s that I’ve read. I plan on reading more from him next year!

August Folly9.  August Folly by Angela Thirkell
I discovered Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire series this year and I love it!  This is the fourth book in the series.

For You Alone8. None But You & For You Alone by Susan Kaye
Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and I enjoyed reading some other books based on it this year.  These two books in the Frederick Wentworth, Captain series retell Persuasion from Captain Wentworth’s point of view.

miss buncle married7.  Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson
This is the second book in the Miss Buncle series and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first book!

anatomy of evil6.  Anatomy Of Evil by Will Thomas
This is the seventh book in the Barker & Llewelyn series (two private detectives in 19th century London).  In this book they tackle the Jack the Ripper case.

The Demon In The House5. The Demon In The House by Angela Thirkell
This third book in the Barsetshire series is a collection of short stories that focus on Tony Morland.

Miklos Banffy4.  The Transylvanian Trilogy by Miklós Bánffy 
They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided follows two cousins, Balint Abady and Laszlo Gyeroffy through the historical events of the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Young Clementina3.  The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson
This is one of the last books I finished this year but it easily became one of my favorites!

Archie In The Crosshairs2. Archie In The Crosshairs by Robert Goldsborough
Rex Stout is my favorite mystery author but Robert Goldsborough has done an excellent job of continuing the Nero Wolfe series.

The Broken Road1. The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor
The long-awaited and much-anticipated final book in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s trilogy.  I really looked forward to getting this one but then found I couldn’t read it right away.  I went back and re-read A Time Of Gifts and Between The Woods And The Water and then I was ready to pick up this one.  It was certainly worth the wait!

What were your favorite books in 2015?

December Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading

Excellent WomenExcellent Women by Barbara Pym
Originally published in 1952, this book is about a spinster in 1950’s England.  Mildred Lathbury has had a quiet, uneventful life until the new neighbors move into her building.  She’s fascinated by them and soon finds herself becoming involved in their lives.

Far From The Madding CrowdFar From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy’s fourth book was originally published in 1874 and tells the story of a shepherd named Gabriel Oak who falls in love with Bathsheba Everdene.

Fading Into The LimelightFading Into The Limelight by Peter Sallis
This is the actor’s autobiography.  He has appeared in a lot of shows over the years but my favorite of his characters is Norman Clegg from Last Of The Summer Wine.

the greatest knightThe Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Originally published in 2005, this historical fiction follows the life of William Marshal.

Books Finished In December

Young ClementinaThe Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson
This book from one of my favorite authors was originally published in 1935 as Divorced From Reality.  When she was young, Charlotte Dean had a pretty clear picture of the path she thought her life would take but quickly discovers that things don’t always go according to plan.  She learns though that despite the difficulties life may bring your way, you should never give up hope.

a merry christmasA Merry Christmas by Louisa May Alcott
This is a collection of Alcott’s Christmas stories, including an excerpt from Little Women.

Baker Street LettersThe Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson
The first book in a mystery series, this is about two brothers who have their law offices at 221B Baker Street.

A Christmas StoryA Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
This collection of short stories was the inspiration for the classic Christmas movie.

August FollyAugust Folly by Angela Thirkell
The fourth book in Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire series was originally published in 1936.  This one follows the Tebben and Dean families in Worsted (East Barsetshire).

The Demon In The HouseThe Demon In The House by Angela Thirkell
This is the third book in the Barsetshire series (originally published in 1934) and is a collection of short stories that focus on Tony Morland.

time_to_keep_silenceA Time To Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor
This little book by my favorite author recounts his visits to several monasteries across Europe.

Mystery In WhiteMystery In White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
This Christmas mystery was originally published in 1938.  A blizzard and a murder threaten to ruin Christmas for six travelers on the 11.37 train from Euston.

highwaymanThe Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
This young adult fantasy novel is about Kit Bristol, a servant who is not aware that his master is actually the highwayman Whistling Jack.  He learns the truth when his master is killed and ends up taking over his quest to save a princess.

October Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading

the greatest knightThe Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

ivanhoeIvanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

the hooded manThe Hooded Man by Paul Kane

Books Finished In October

the two mrs. abbottsThe Two Mrs. Abbotts by D.E. Stevenson

a moorland hangingA Moorland Hanging by Michael Jecks

the house on the strandThe House On The Strand by Daphne Du Maurier

the foundlingThe Foundling by Charlotte Bronte

the red boxThe Red Box by Rex Stout

If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to know what you thought about them!

September Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading

the foundlingThe Foundling by Charlotte Bronte

the hooded manHooded Man by Paul Kane

the red boxThe Red Box by Rex Stout (Re-read)

Books Finished In September

Ramage & The DrumbeatRamage & The Drumbeat by Dudley Pope

the matchmakerThe Matchmaker by Stella Gibbons

wild strawberriesWild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell

miss buncle marriedMiss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson

102The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

103The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

problem of evilSidney Chambers And The Problem Of Evil by James Runcie

the shadow walkerThe Shadow Walker by Michael Walters