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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 2017-12-20 01:22
Bell Moore Group Inc. Review: A New Look at Village Life

There’s a clear difference between the life on villages during medieval times and today’s present living. The phase of life during the old times is rather slow yet, simple and peaceful. It is a kind of life where your grandparents went through and maybe, they are still as enthusiastic as ever whenever they brought stories of their unique childhood life.

During those days, agriculture is the main source of livelihood in early villages. They practically raise crops and livestock for food whilst most houses are made of bamboo and palm-leaf roofs, others are built using wood and stones. Millennials in today’s generation don’t have the chance to experience rural living and would definitely not know the struggle of everyday living back in time.

 

While living in the modern day village, crop farming and domestication of animals had been taken away. We now have concrete and steel houses which are painted and engineered with modern materials for housing.  There are nearby restaurants and local amenities equipped with all our essential needs. Modern villages provide conveniences that old village life lacks, yet, the old village possesses a peaceful and quiet lifestyle that anyone would love to have back again.

 

Obviously, there exist great differences from the past and in today’s living. However, neither of them is above the other. We all have the freedom to choose how we want to live our lives and it all depends on the comfort level one wants. People are always fond of changes, longing for something new to happen with their life. The majority, however, have embraced the modern village living as it provides all the necessities and amenities we need.  Most middle-class families have been the economic engine that sustained the growth of the real estate industry’s venture into a residential housing development.

 

Bell Moore Group Inc. has been part of providing service in satisfying the property needs of tenants and buyers for many years. It has come a long way to understanding the complex nature of property operations, just as the village has come a long way on its journey of evolving into what it is now. Whatever your lifestyle choice is, Bellmoore Group Inc review and understands your unique needs.

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text 2017-12-19 02:22
Bell Moore Group Inc. Review: A New Look at Village Life

There’s a clear difference between the life on villages during medieval times and today’s present living. The phase of life during the old times is rather slow yet, simple and peaceful. It is a kind of life where your grandparents went through and maybe, they are still as enthusiastic as ever whenever they brought stories of their unique childhood life.

During those days, agriculture is the main source of livelihood in early villages. They practically raise crops and livestock for food whilst most houses are made of bamboo and palm-leaf roofs, others are built using wood and stones. Millennials in today’s generation don’t have the chance to experience rural living and would definitely not know the struggle of everyday living back in time.

 

While living in the modern day village, crop farming and domestication of animals had been taken away. We now have concrete and steel houses which are painted and engineered with modern materials for housing.  There are nearby restaurants and local amenities equipped with all our essential needs. Modern villages provide conveniences that old village life lacks, yet, the old village possesses a peaceful and quiet lifestyle that anyone would love to have back again.

 

Obviously, there exist great differences from the past and in today’s living. However, neither of them is above the other. We all have the freedom to choose how we want to live our lives and it all depends on the comfort level one wants. People are always fond of changes, longing for something new to happen with their life. The majority, however, have embraced the modern village living as it provides all the necessities and amenities we need.  Most middle-class families have been the economic engine that sustained the growth of the real estate industry’s venture into a residential housing development.

 

Bell Moore Group Inc. has been part of providing service in satisfying the property needs of tenants and buyers for many years. It has come a long way to understanding the complex nature of property operations, just as the village has come a long way on its journey of evolving into what it is now. Whatever your lifestyle choice is, Bellmoore Group Inc review and understands your unique needs.

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review 2017-08-14 10:10
A contemplative look at the life of a village for those who love a different kind of writing.
Reservoir 13: A Novel - Jon McGregor

Thanks to NetGalley and to Haper Collins UK Fourth State for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I had never read one of Jon McGregor’s novels before but I was curious by the description of this novel and more curious when I saw it had been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. The biography of the author intrigued me even more and I finally managed to read the book.

The book starts with the disappearance of a thirteen-year-old girl, a visitor holidaying, with her parents, to a village in Britain (not too distant from Manchester and also near enough to Leeds and Sheffield for those cities to make appearances, so probably in the general area where I live). Despite a large search party and much publicity and community effort, the girl does not appear. At first, everything is stopped: Council meetings, Christmas celebrations, the lives of her parents who remain in the village for a long time. Slowly, things go back to almost normal, with only the anniversary of her disappearance as a reminder that something tragic happened there. Life returns to its natural rhythms. There are births, deaths, people get married, separate, get new jobs, are made redundant, people move into the village and out, cricket matches are lost (mostly), the weather is very wet, and occasionally dry, the reservoirs are checked, the quarries exploited or not, there are pantomimes, well-dressing, Mischief nights, birds come and go, clocks go back and forth, foxes are born, bats hibernate, crimes are committed, crops harvested, farm animals looked after…

The novel (if it is a novel) is a slice of the life of the community of that village. The story is told in the third person from an omniscient point of view, and one that seems to be an objective observer that peeps into people’s heads (and observes animals) but without becoming over involved with feelings, just describing what people might think, but not going any further than that. The style of writing is peculiar, and perhaps not suited to everybody’s taste. There are very beautiful sentences and a particular rhythm to the paragraphs, which are not divided according to the different characters’ points of view or stories and can go from weather to animals to a person’s actions. Each anniversary of the girl’s disappearance marks a new year, but, otherwise, there is little to differentiate what happens, other than the chronology and the passing of time for the characters, the houses, and the village itself.

There are no individual characters that have a bigger share of the limelight. We have the youngsters, who had known the missing girl, and we follow them, but we also follow the female priest, the teachers at school, several farmers, a potter, the newspaper editor and his wife, the school keeper and his sister… We get to know a fair bit about each one of them but not at an emotional level, and we become observers too, rather than putting ourselves in the place of the characters to share their feelings and thoughts. It makes for a strange reading experience, and not one everybody will enjoy. It is as if we were supposed to let the words wash over us and explore a different way of reading, pretty much like the passing of life itself.

There is no resolution (there isn’t in life either) and I have read quite a few reviews where readers were disappointed as they kept reading waiting for some sort of final reveal that never comes. We are used to classic narratives with beginning, middle, and end, and being confronted by a different kind of structure can make us uncomfortable. This novel reminded me, in some ways, of the film The Tree of Life directed by Terrence Malick, although in that case, the story was more circumscribed and here it is more choral (and less involved).  Reviewers who know McGregor’s previous work are not in agreement about this novel, as some feel it shows a development of his style and is the best of his yet, whilst others prefer some of his earlier work. My advice to those who have never read him would be to check a sample of the novel and see how they feel (although, remember that the earlier focus on the search for the girl dies down later). This is not a spoiler as the author has said saw in quite a few interviews and it is clear from the description that this is not a mystery novel.

In sum, this is a novel for people interested in new and post-modern writing, rather than for those looking for a conventional story. If you are annoyed by head hopping and strange writing techniques and like to find a clear ending, then stay away from it. If you enjoy meditation and savouring every moment and are prepared for a different type of reading, you might be in for a treat.  

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review 2016-04-11 22:13
A Village Life
A Village Life - Louise Glück

Louise Gluck is the only poet I can confidently call my favourite. I’ve enjoyed collections by other poets, and individual works by a few, but with Gluck there is always consistency, even if the style is a bit different. “A Village Life” takes on a very prose-like form, with longer lines and stanzas that, at times, could even be called paragraph. There’s also much more repetition and restating of the obvious. And initially this was confusing.

 

Like always however, there is a meditative tone to each of the poems. I’ve grown to love how Gluck has several poems in a collection with the same name as they mimic the same repetitive routine that is diluted by events such as outings with friends. The same way I grew accustomed, and even ended up loving, the repetitive wording and long phrases. “Hunters” was particularly beautiful in its simplicity and that cyclical, closely-knitted narrative that leaves the reader with a startling and dark finish. However it was in “A Slip of paper”, the next poem after, that I found my favourite couple of lines in the entire collection, for they reminded me why I enjoy Gluck’s poems as much as I do:

 

To get born, your body makes a pact with death, / and from that moment, all it tries to do is cheat

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