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Search tags: DE-Stevenson
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review 2020-01-09 19:17
Treasure Island (Stevenson)
Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

If I read this in childhood - and it would have been in a children's abridged edition, I should think - it didn't leave any memory of its rather gory plot, nor of the curious moral ambiguity of it principal villain, Long John Silver.

 

Nonetheless, once it got going, it was more or less what I expected: an adventure story featuring a young man with more courage than sense. The abrupt change out of his first-person narrative to another point of view for parts of the plot took me by surprise a bit - but frankly, that would never have bothered me in the slightest if I'd read it when I was younger.

 

The e-version I read the story in was rather bad. Each page of the first 100 or so was interrupted by an illustration having nothing to do with the text (mostly the same scene of pioneer America, repeated over and over). No-one had bothered to supply the missing first letters of opening words in each chapter (likely decorative initials in the scanned original.) The file is entitled "Complete Works of R.L. Stevenson", but it contains exactly 3 of his most famous novels - probably volume 1 of a collected edition.

 

And all this notwithstanding, I enjoyed reading this missing piece from my childhood. It was clear, straightforward, vivid storytelling.

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review 2020-01-04 17:45
Simply delightful
Miss Buncle's Book - D.E. Stevenson

I've read a few other D.E. Stevenson books, but this book takes the prize so far. No wonder it stands as one of Stevenson's most beloved books out of a lot of beloved books.

 

We start with our protagonist and heroine, Barbara Buncle, a spinster a bit past her prime, worried about making ends meet. Like many women of her time, she has slipped into genteel poverty. She's prohibited by custom from seeking gainful employment, her dividends have diminished to nearly nothing, and she isn't sure how she is going to make it through the winter, prices for things like heat and food are so dear in 1934. She needs to come up with a scheme to supplement her meager income. She contemplates chickens, but ultimately decides that she will write a book and sell it to make a tiny bit of extra money.

 

So she writes, although, as she explains, she has no imagination, so she has no choice but to write what she knows. And what she knows is her village of Silverstream, which she (barely) camouflages by calling it "Copperfield," and she knows the inhabitants of her village, whom she also (barely) camouflages by changing their names, so Dr. Walker becomes Dr. Rider, and Mrs. Bold becomes Mrs. Mildmay.

 

Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be) Miss Buncle has an unerring eye for the human foible, and she gets deeply under the skin of the village inhabitants when the book becomes a runaway best seller. Mrs. Featherstone Hogg (aka Mrs. Horsley Down), a termagant who prides herself on her village status, gets a hold of the book and immediately recognizes the village, and herself, in its pages. Miss Buncle has published under a pseudonym, and the entire village is afire with trying to figure out who wrote the book. At the same time, the book seems to be having a queer effect on some of the villagers, and they start bursting out with interesting behavior all over the place.

 

There were several times that I laughed out loud as I was reading. D.E. Stevenson has written some lovely, lovely characters. Miss Buncle is a delight, as she, too, begins to act like her village counterpart, buying herself a new hat and a dress or two that swishes deliciously around her ankles, and generally gaining confidence and abandoning her repressed, spinsterish attitudes. She is astonished at how much money she has made, and is forced to make up a generous uncle to explain her sudden affluence. The youthful granddaughter of one of her neighbors, Sally Carter, is delightful and drawn with both kindness and affection. The doctor and his wife, Sarah, are wonderful. And the publisher, Mr. Abbott, is very funny.

 

There are several follow-ups to Miss Buncle's Book. The next in the series (spoiler alert) is Miss Buncle Married, which I have already ordered from Abe Books. I didn't buy the lovely Persephone copy because it was around $20.00, so I bought a recent Sourcebooks reprint for $3.99 (with free shipping). 

 

For this one, though, BrokenTune sent me her gorgeous Persephone edition. I've actually never owned one of the traditional dove grey Persephones - they are hard to get a hold of in the U.S. I do have a few of their "classic" editions, which have the printed cover, and they are nice, but the traditional Persephones are just a pleasure to handle and read. The cover is buttery smooth, the end papers are gorgeous, and the printed paper has such a nice feel. Even though they are expensive, I might sign up for one of their book of the month clubs. I will treasure this one, and I imagine that it will become a book that I reread often as a comfort read.

 

TL/DR: I loved this book. It was simply delightful.

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text 2020-01-04 02:26
Reading progress update: I've read 129 out of 332 pages.
Miss Buncle's Book - D.E. Stevenson

Hahaha

 

This book is just delightful.

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text 2019-12-21 00:50
Reading progress update: I've read 73%.
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield,Juliet Stevenson
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text 2019-12-17 02:36
Reading progress update: I've read 51%.
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield,Juliet Stevenson
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