Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Storm in the Village by Miss Read


12. Storm in the Village - third in the Fairacre series
by Miss Read
fiction, 1958
paperback, 238 pages
second reading
finished, 2/23/09


The "storm" in the title is the rumor that a farm in nearby Beech Green is going to be turned into a housing estate for new workers coming to the atomic plant. The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority may take the 100+ acres by what we call "eminent domain," though there will be meetings so various groups may have the opportunity to express their opinions. As always, Miss Read shows the reader both sides of the problem. It would be horrible to turn a lovely field and view into houses; yet there would be more people attending the school, whose population is diminishing from families leaving for larger towns and employment possibilities. But then there is talk that the village school would be closed, and a new big school built right on the land. And not only that, but the housing estate might have its own church and shops. So where does that leave this little village of Fairacre? Sounds so familiar doesn't it. The 1950s is about when all these changes began happening in rural landscapes from England to New England.

And then there is a mini storm involving the teacher of the younger children. She is infatuated with an older widower, whom many in the village call a ne'er-do-well. Though she is in her twenties, she hasn't had any experiences with men, and there is a lot of worrying gossip about her situation.

By the end of the book, the air is clear and bright again, of course, and the reader has learned more about Fairacre and its inhabitants.

There are two passages I really enjoyed which show how our moods, the weather, or the events of a day may color our view of the world around us.

At the start of her school holidays, Miss Read strolls around Fairacre seeing sights she usually misses when she is "cooped up in a dark school." She rhapsodizes about a plant in a window and a woman in her garden, as she smells the wonderful aromas of coffee grinding and bread baking.

Nothing can beat a village, I thought, for living in! A small village, a remote village, a village basking, as smug and snug as a cat, in morning sunlight! I continued my lover's progress, besotted with my village's charms. Just look at that weeping willow, plumed like a fountain, that lime tree murmurous with bees, that scarlet pimpernel blazing in a dusty verge, the curve of that hooded porch, the jasmine - in fact, look at every petal, twig, brick, beam, thatch, wall, pond, man, woman and child that make up this enchanting place! My blessing showered upon it all. It was the first day of the holidays!

And then just a few days later, "after clouds gathered with alarming speed:"

This was the halcyon village I had mooned over so sentimentally early in the holidays, I thought grimly. Where now was the tranquil sunshine, the serenity, the innocent-hearted populace going about its honest business?

I thought of the misplaced passion of Hilary Jackson, the cupidity of John Franklyn, the evil gossiping of neighbours, the sad injustice of Miss Clare's ill-health, the misery of the Coggs family at the mercy of their drunken father under the broken dripping thatch of Tylers' Row, of the chained unhappy dogs in back gardens, bedraggled hens cooped all too closely in bare rank runs, and, over all, the tension engendered by the housing scheme and the ugly passions it aroused.

Sick at heart, with the noise of the storm still raging round me, I sought in vain for the comfort of sleep.

It isn't long before this feeling goes, and life is more on an even keel for Miss Read and all the Fairacre inhabitants. One of the villagers, Mr Willet, tells Miss Read what he wants on his gravestone:

Good times
Bad times
All times
Pass over

Wise words, in a book full of wisdom and kindness and truth.

This is the last of the Fairacre books on my shelf so it'll be next year before I'll be going back to visit. But I will certainly do so. I love this place, as I do Thrush Green, Miss Read's other village series. I own the first two, Thrush Green and Winter in Thrush Green, and I'll probably venture there before this year is out.

20 comments:

  1. Nan, I love the picture of your dog in the snow at the top of your Blog!

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  2. It's the perfect time of year for Miss Read... I wanted to thank you for the links to Laurie Colwin's daughter's writings. How fun that she, too, has become a writer. I appreciate the time you took to do that. Blessings, Debra

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  3. Ben thanks you kindly, Sherri! Sadie had a time as the header herself in March 2008, and they've both had a turn twice - in November 2007 and February 2008 so this time it was Ben's turn to be there alone. :<)

    Debra, you are so very welcome. It was a pleasure. I loved seeing her picture. Amazing how the time has passed.

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  4. Borrowed a few 'Miss Read's ' from the library years ago really enjoyed them will have to look for more. Your dog/snow photo is great!

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  5. passing through. thought I would say hello on my way. thanks for the visit.

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  6. These books look so comforting to me. I think I need to read at least one!!

    Holy snow Batman!! Your header is great and looks like your dog is enjoying it!!!

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  7. I have every Miss Read, courtesy of my mom who was a big fan. I couldn't bear to give them away when she died. such comfort reading!

    and BTW, I ADORE Laurie Colwin and have read everything she's written several times. I missed the links to her daughter; cant wait to go click there and check it out! Thx.

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  8. Zetor and It's Just Me, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a note!

    Staci, the books are 'comforting' and good stories. Ben was enjoying his little time in the snow. :<)

    Babel Babe, aren't you just so lucky to have those books. Very, very special. I'm looking forward to the other Laurie C. books I haven't read yet.

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  9. I love your header photo!
    There's an award for you over on my blog.

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  10. I thank you, Joyce, so very much. (and Ben thanks you!)

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  11. Love the dog too. I haven't read Miss Read for years. Perhaps I should.

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  12. I love Miss Read but have to be in the right mood to read her.
    The header pic is great.

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  13. Thanks Susie and Cait - Ben is so pleased with all the praise. :<)

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  14. I just love the Miss Read stories. I tend to forget about them until someone mentions them on a blog - so thank you! I'm headed to the library at lunch so perhaps Miss Read will accompany me back to work this afternoon.

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  15. Karla, that's one of the wonderful things about the blogging world. I'll often either come upon something new or an old book I've loved. Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. It's a good think Ben is black! I fear I would lose Edward in a snow like that!! Wonderful photo!

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  17. Thank you, Pamela. It really is a black and white photo, isn't it. :<)

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  18. Nan, I love Miss Read, too. I am lucky enough to have all her books in hardcover and with the original dust jackets. It took me some time to find them all (abebooks was a great help), and I was able to correspond with people in England and even a lovely lady in New Zealand who I got one from.

    I can never make up my mind as to whether I love Thrush Green or Fairacre more, though. I guess it all depends on where I'm visiting at the time!

    Now I need to check out Laurie Colwin.

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  19. I thought about you, Nan, on Monday when I was in our local Oxfam charity shop. There on the shelf in the window was two stacks of Miss Read books. I didn't see them until I'd paid for my purchases, otherwise I might have picked several up.

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  20. Jill, you really are lucky! The ones I borrowed from the library have those great covers. I'll be interested to hear what you think of Laurie C. if you read her.

    Cath, oh, I'd love to have seen that sight. I wonder if they'll be gone when you go back again.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.