Warning: SPOILERS for Miss Buncle’s Book and Miss Buncle Married.
This third book in the “Miss Buncle” series jumps forward in time to explore life in an English village during World War II. Barbara Abbott, née Buncle, now lives in Wandlebury with her husband and two adorable children. The war apparently has little effect on her life, except that there is less food available at the market. But Barbara’s niece by marriage, Jerry Abbott, is dealing with the fact that her husband Sam is fighting somewhere in Africa; in the meantime, she has opened her home to soldiers and evacuees. But despite the privations and worries of wartime, there are still plenty of opportunities for gossip and romance! Sullen Lancreste Marvell has fallen in love with an unsuitable woman; famous authoress Janetta Walters is coming to Wandlebury to speak at the village bazaar; and Jerry’s brother Archie finally seems to be ready for marriage. Finding herself in the midst of these entanglements, will Barbara be able to engineer a happy ending?
I’m so happy that Sourcebooks is re-releasing D.E. Stevenson’s books! I really loved the first two “Miss Buncle” books, and this one is also quite fun and charming, though it definitely suffers by comparison. The problem with this book is that it lacks cohesion; there are several little plots going on, but they are largely independent of one another. Some plots also seem to peter out with no resolution; for example, in the beginning of the book, an old friend of Barbara’s comes to visit, and it seems as though she is going to be a big part of the story, but then she vanishes about halfway through the book. Ultimately the biggest story is about Archie’s courtship, which is quite sweet, but it’s not really developed in much depth. I did like reading a World War II novel that isn’t really about the war, but nevertheless the war affects many aspects of the characters’ lives. The happy, wholesome picture of village life in this book was most likely vanishing at the time Stevenson wrote the novel. Overall, I’d recommend this book to people who liked the other “Miss Buncle” books and are looking for a nice comfort read.