by D.E. Stevenson
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 Buncle'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?
I'm giving this 4 stars out of five, based purely on my own enjoyment of the book. It's not quite a 5-star book for me, nor even a "4.5-star rounded up to 5" book.
I found this book quite enjoyable-- a good old-fashioned tale about good old-fashioned people in a good old-fashioned Britain-between-the-Wars. Most of it is fairly predictable, in my opinion, but that only contributes to its "comfort book" cred-- and it manages a pleasant freshness, despite the fact that it wasn't always particularly surprising.
This is a very cozy read. There's humor, but it's softened by a degree of sweetness that never becomes downright sappy. It's more realistic than P.G. Wodehouse (though also nowhere near as witty and hilarious). It's less biting than E.F. Benson's Lucia series (and again not as funny).
I'd recommend Miss Buncle's Book as an antidote to the blues. If you have a weakness for "between the Wars" Britain and that comforting village/small town vibe, this hits many of the right notes. It would be a good choice for "hunkered down in bed/on the couch, feeling just a little ill" reading. It's charming! It's comfy-cozy! It's the first in a trilogy (so if you love it, it doesn't have to be over, yet)!