Thursday, January 29, 2009

Village Diary by Miss Read

6. Village Diary
by Miss Read
fiction, 1957
paperback, 246 pages
second reading
finished, 1/29/09

This second book in Miss Read's Fairacre series is even better than the first. Village School was more of a record, even a report in some ways. Now we know the characters, the village, and the school as we begin our second year in Fairacre. There is more humor, of the Provincial Lady sort. The crabby Mrs Pringle helped Miss Read with a little cleaning:

To hear her disparaging comments on the condition of the backs of the bookcases, and the loot that she extracted from the sides of the arm-chairs, one might wonder why I hadn't died of typhus.

When Miss Read, a very new driver, comes upon three children in the middle of the road "popping tar bubbles," she scolds them. The young boy says,

'We wasn't doing no harm' to which Miss Read retorts: 'You wasn't doing no good either.' ... it wasn't until I had changed into third gear, and was cooling down slightly, that my ungrammatical echo burst fully upon me.

Miss Read has given a lecture to the students about saving a little money "for a rainy day." She is then appalled at the state of her own finances.

'Always put a little by!' as I told my children firmly last week ... Sometimes I wonder that a bolt from heaven doesn't strike me.

Village Diary contains many observances on the rapidly changing village life; fears that the young will move away from the country, concerns that the 'new' people are attending all the village meetings and the old-time residents are staying home, worries about old people not having enough money to live on, and the lack of small, affordable housing for the residents.

Yet, this is only part of the story, as these things are only part of real life. There is also delight in nature, and great contentment in the daily life of the villagers.

With all the windows in the house opened, I sat down with my tea tray and thought how lovely it was to be back. I feel like a sword in a scabbard, I told myself, and instantly decided that a sword was much too dashing. Perhaps a cup, hanging again on its accustomed hook on the kitchen dresser, would be a better simile. At any rate, to be a village school-mistress, with a fine border of pinks just breaking before me, and the sound of rooks cawing overhead, seemed a very right and proper thing to be, and I envied no man.

I find both the character, Miss Read, and the author, Miss Read (Dora Jessie Saint) to be sensible, honest, clear-headed. She (they) see both sides of all controversies that pop up in this village. The characters are so real, and so distinct one from another, that as the books go along the reader gets to know and care for each one as a person. I own another in the series, Storm in the Village. As much as I'd like to dive right into it, I'm going to wait a little while. These are beautiful paperback editions, and in time I hope to own them all, since they are books I will happily read over again. I also have on my shelves the first two in Miss Read's Thrush Green series, and I'm sure there will be book reports coming up on them as the year unfolds.


  1. I love your pictures and your new deer header!! These books look like they're quite fun!!!

    We got about 4 inches of snow but thank ice!!

  2. Hi Nan: This sounds like a delightful read. I wondered if you ever listen to CBC - Between the Covers. If you go to their website, and click on Podcasts, there is a wonderful little book called Chokecherry. It is still up, but I don't know for how much longer. I don't believe it is the whole book, but there are five episodes that you can listen to on the computer. I spent a lovely morning a few days ago in Chokecherry, and just loved it.

  3. I actually like the Thrush Green novels better than the Fairacre, but they are both sooo good.

  4. Hi, Nan -- I found you via Classical Calling and am looking forward to reading more of your posts. I am a big Miss Read fan from way back; thanks for reminding me that I need to dig out my collection and re-read!

  5. Staci, Thank you so much. We got just a bit more but nothing like what was predicted!

    Donna, I can't believe you mentioned this. Gosh, I don't know how long ago but someone on the CBC was talking about this book, and I noted it, but have never been able to find it. Thank you, thank you. I'll try and listen, and then sometime maybe I can get the book.

    Niki, I thought that too, but on the second reading of the Fairacre books, I am simply loving them.

  6. Lynn, thanks so much for coming by and commenting. The Miss Reads are so, so wonderful!

  7. Miss Read is an old friend! Love this post!

  8. I got a bit put off by the style of Village School. Now that I know they get different / better I shall give them another try. Thanks for a most useful review.

  9. Glad to see you weathered the storm! :) Send a little bit of snow my way, if you would. I am missing it dreadfully. Just one day though. They don't know how to drive in it here in the sunny south!

  10. Thanks, Joey, she is to me, too - and I am so enjoying visiting with her again.
    Scriptor Senex, your comment makes me glad I mentioned it. They aren't terribly different, but there is a change in tone and spirit, somehow. I'll be interested to see if you notice when you read the second one.

  11. Karin, I just can't imagine a winter without snow!

  12. Nan
    So jealous of your snow... I want lots. When there is an inch here everything shuts down.
    And the deer header.. how far is that deer from your house?!
    I need to read this... a new one for me.
    Thanks for your posts this week...lovely.
    And I hope you get that dinner out soon with your kiddos.

  13. Mim, what nice words in your comment. Thank you so much. The deer is quite close, but it looks still closer because of the zoom lens.

  14. I love Miss Read. It is who Jan Karon read and patterns Mitford after! Enjoy.


  15. Bonnie, I remember reading that when the Mitford series first came out, and how I knew I would like it!


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