Sunday, October 25, 2009

Miss Buncle Married by D. E. Stevenson

Published 1936, reprinted 1947
Grosset & Dunlap Publishers
by arrangement with Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.

Miss Buncle Married is the second in a series of Miss Buncle stories by Scottish author, Dorothy Emily Stevenson (a.k.a. D. E. Stevenson). Like me, fans of the first novel, Miss Buncle's Book, will not only feel a sense of personal satisfaction in finding out the rest of Barbara Buncle's story, but also a personal connection to the sequel as Miss Buncle Married was dedicated by the author to "those who liked Miss Buncle and asked for more." So what if I wasn't alive when D. E. Stevenson penned these books. If I had been I'm sure I would have been amongst those clamoring for more and thus the dedication is meant for me as well as those living at the time.

The Plot:
The story of Miss Buncle Married begins nine months after the end of Miss Buncle's Book. Barbara Buncle has left behind Silverstream and the scandal and commotion that her two novels caused; she has given up her home and her surname, moved to London, and married her publisher, Arthur Abbott. While Arthur and Barbara are enjoying the bliss of newlywed life, they aren't exactly happy with the pace of life required of those who reside in town.

After a brief discussion Arthur and Barbara realize the only solution to their "problem" is for them to pack up and move to the country. But where in the country? They cannot return to Silverstream, nor does Barbara wish to. Thus begins an intense search by Barbara for a suitable country home; somewhere she and Arthur can enjoy life in peace and solitude. After several weeks Barbara finally finds the ideal location in the small town of Wandlebury. Although her initial visit is met with some peculiar circumstances this doesn't stop her from falling in love with the charming town and the dilapidated, yet promisingly homey Archway House. Barbara convinces Arthur to purchase Archway House and before to long the Abbotts have fixed it up and made it a home.

The rest of the story in Miss Buncle Married revolves around the various characters who make up the town of Wandlebury, including a budding romance, and the humorous scrapes that Barbara gets herself into. As was the case in Miss Buncle's Book, Barbara never intends to get mixed up in the matters of those around her, she just falls into situations which always result in a story filled with humorous and intriguing plot twists.

My Thoughts:
I almost think I liked Miss Buncle Married better than its predecessor. For starters, while I loved Miss Buncle's Book it was really more of a story about the people of Silverstream and their connection with Barbara's book than it was a story about Barbara Buncle herself. I enjoyed the story, but didn't feel that I really got to know Barbara very well. This problem was fixed in Miss Buncle Married. Although it does contain some side stories, most of the novel is about Barbara, her husband Arthur, and his nephew, Sam. Miss Buncle Married really rounds out Barbara's story and left me, the reader, satisfied.

For those curious, John Smith does return in this story in the form of a third novel that Barbara writes. Although this new novel titled There's Many A Slip promises to be her best novel yet, Barbara unfortunately (or rather fortunately for Arthur and their beloved Archway House) decides not to publish it and instead turns her attention to new adventures. Still, the reader gets to enjoy the best parts of There's Many A Slip, so I am glad it was included in Miss Buncle Married.

As I mentioned, there are some side stories, mostly about the towns people of Wandlebury who, like the towns people of Silverstream, are a mix of characters -- some quirky, some despicable, and some quite delightful. Personally I didn't like Barbara's next door neighbors, the Marvels, particularly the children. I found them irritating and well... spoiled brats. I was thankful that their part in the story was minimal and nearly absent in the latter half of the book so I only had to put up with their mischief for a few chapters.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the character of Sam who starts of as a lazy young man, but because of true love becomes a better man. Did I mention Miss Buncle Married is a romance? It is, in fact, it's actually a dual romance. The first romance the reader encounters is that of the older more matured love between Arthur and Barbara. The second is the new and budding love between Sam and a local young woman. While Sam's romance and some of the story's plot might be a little predictable for some readers, it is still enjoyably told and thus makes for an enjoyable read.

In Summary:
Overall I found Miss Buncle Married entertainingly witty with interesting characters, and a clever and fast moving plot. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate Miss Buncle Married a 5; a book that is worth the time to locate and read. Note: Miss Buncle Married is out of print and used copies run on the high end. However, readers should not get discouraged. I was able to find a copy through my local library's state Inter-Library Loan system. If your library doesn't own a copy be sure to check if the book can be obtained through your library's ILL system.

Related Reads: (If you liked this review you might also be interested in...)

Miss Buncle's Book by D. E. Stevenson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell


Tricia said...

I was so happy to discover DE Stevenson this year. I definitely recommend tracking down copies of The Two Mrs. Abbotts and The Four Graces. Both books carry on with life in Wandlebury after a few years have gone by and you'll see many of the characters you have grown to love in the first two books. The Four Graces is more of an offshoot book, but it is my favorite DE Stevenson of the four I read this year.

I'm so glad you stopped by!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

thanks for this. I wish I could a get a book (series) or an author and be such a faithful follower. I used to read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. But now I read African writers, whose works are not prolific. Thanks once again.

Noel De Vries said...

This is one of the Stevensons I have on hold, after the first Miss Buncle. Can't wait!

Nathan & Alison said...

I'm reading this right now and enjoying it.