Over the last year or so I’ve grown more aware of the name of novelist D.E. Stevenson, and I recently had the great treat of reading Miss Buncle’s Book. It was a total delight.
Dorothy Emily Stevenson (1892 – 1973) was a Scottish writer and was a bestseller in her day, selling over 7 million books. Her father was cousin to R.L. Stevenson. There is today a plaque on the house where she was born in Edinburgh. She began writing at a young age, but hid her efforts from her parents because of their disapproval. Her father would not let her attend university as he feared she would turn into a bluestocking. Dorothy married an army captain and her experiences as a military wife went into her book Mrs Tim of the Regiment which I read and quite enjoyed. She wrote over forty novels, and her books have recently made quite a comeback – they are being reprinted by Persephone Books and are being produced as audio books.
Miss Buncle’s Book was published in 1934 and is set in an English village in the 1930s. Barbara Buncle, who is short of money, writes a book which depicts her fellow villagers under different names but who are instantly recognisable. Her book is published under the pseudonym of John Smith and is a success and the entire village is desperate to know the real identity of Mr Smith. The novel shows what happens when people see themselves through others’ eyes and how Miss Buncle’s insights change her community. I often laughed out loud – the book is hilarious. It was a wise, charming, and cosy read to start my year. Fortunately, there are two sequels for me to now turn to – Miss Buncle Married and The Two Miss Abbotts. One critic commented that the book is the equivalent of a nice cup of tea, but I’d say it is more a glass of prosecco – bubbles of fun and so pleasant to savour.
Have you read any of D.E. Stevenson’s books? Can you recommend one to me? Tell me by leaving a comment.