Friday, November 25, 2011

Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read

74. Winter in Thrush Green - second in the Thrush Green series
by Miss Read
fiction, 1961
second reading
first book for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge
finished, 11/21/11

You may remember when I wrote about the book, Thrush Green I said that the whole collection was given to me by a most kind and generous reader of my letters. Along with the books, she also gave me two handmade bookmarks - a Christmas one and a New Year's one. She asked me not to mention her name, but I would like to thank her again for her thoughtful gifts.

This installment of the Thrush Green series begins in October and continues on into March, divided into three sections: The Coming of Winter, Christmas at Thrush Green, and The New Year. The weather and the seasons get star billing in the Miss Read books.
Unless one was prepared to get one's washing out really early in October, then one might as well dry it by the fire, for the days were so short that it virtually didn't dry at all after three or four in the afternoon.

Rain continued to sweep the Cotswolds throughout November and the wooded hills were shrouded in undulating grey veils.
Young Doctor Lovell found his hands full. Coughs, colds, wheezy chests, ear-ache, rheumatic pains, stomachic chills and general depression kept his car splashing along the flooded lanes of Thrush Green and Lulling.

It was one of those still, quiet days of winter, when everything seems to be waiting. No breeze disturbed the plumes of smoke from Thrush Green's chimneys. The trees stood bare and motionless. On the hedges small drops of moisture hung; no breath of wind disturbed them, no beam of sunlight lit them to life. The sky was low and of uniform greyness.

It snowed for two days without ceasing, and an easterly wind, which sprang up during Sunday night, caused drifts several feet deep.

The mild weather allowed the schoolchildren to play outside, much to their teachers' relief. ... and the good people of Thrush Green, so long winter-bound, pottered about their gardens, admiring the silver and gold of snowdrops and aconites, and watching the daffodils push their buds above ground.
With such descriptions does Miss Read, the pen name of Dora Jessie Saint, keep the weather in the forefront as her characters go about their lives. There is a winter episode which brings a literal and figurative chill to the reader. Dotty Harmer is one of the real 'characters' in the Thrush Green series. She makes up herbal concoctions, and various foods which too often give their receivers 'Dotty's collywobbles.' She lives alone, still basking in the memory of her beloved schoolmaster father. She keeps chickens outdoors and cats indoors. They are most precious to her, indeed they are her family. When there is a big snowstorm which closes the roads and pathways around the town, Dotty gets sick without anyone knowing. There were no cell phones or alert bracelets then. She went without heat or food for days and if two young boys hadn't been 'trespassing' in a man's hedge, using it as a hideout from the world, they wouldn't have seen her across the field, leaning out her window and ringing a bell for help. On such a small thing does life often depend.

And whatever the weather outside, there is nothing like a Thrush Green fireside for ease and comfort.
The fire crackled and blazed hospitably giving forth a sweet smell of burning apple wood.
Change is brewing in this book. Surprising, and not so surprising, romances bloom. An older person is even more ill than in the first book. A newcomer moves to town bringing much excitement. There is an attack on the schoolmistress. As in life, there is no sense of time standing still in Thrush Green. The seasons of the natural life and the seasons of peoples' lives move along as the books progress. The Christmas season is quite beautiful as you might expect in a small English village.
With only a fortnight to go before Christmas Day Lulling [a nearby village] people were beginning to bestir themselves about their shopping. London might start preparing for the festival at the end of October; Lulling refused to be hustled. October and November had jobs of their own in plenty. December, and the latter part at that, was the proper time to think about Christmas, and the idea of buying cards and presents before then was just plain silly.
'Who wants to think of Christmas when there's the autumn digging to do?' asked one practically.
'Takes all the gilt off the gingerbread to have Christmas thrown down your throat before December,' agreed another.
To which we, fifty years on, might heartily say, amen! Spending a little reading time in Thrush Green might be just the cure for the hustle and bustle of the season.

This is my first adult book for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.


  1. You have whetted my appetite, I love Miss Read and I am just going to order the Winter series from the library. Comfort Food.......

  2. It doesn't matter terribly but the first one in the series is Thrush Green, then Winter in Thrush Green. The whole order of her series is here:

  3. Thanks for reminding me about the Miss Read books - I just love them.

    And Christmas would be so much the better for less hustle and bustle and commercialism!

  4. I own three of the Thrush Green series books, but not the winter one; it sounds like something I'd enjoy reading tucked in bed with the little lamp beside me and a plate of my mum's first batch of Christmas cookies (which hopefully we'll have tomorrow!) nearby.

  5. Margaret, I have this little reading idea to go through the books in the same season in which they are set. I've done it with the first two, and the third begins in April, when I intend to read it.

    Librarian, sounds so perfect!

  6. Love the Miss Read books, and love that your dog is named Sadie. My mother's twin sister (my favourite aunt) was also named Sadie. A friend of my daughter's has a dog named Sadie too -- a little Corgi.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    Take care and God bless, Carol

  7. Oh, Canadian Chickadee, aren't they just great! I'm fond of the name Sadie, too. We didn't name her - our daughter did. We did have a wonderful Tgving. Hope you did, too.

  8. I love the Miss Read books but haven't read this one. I'm going to try and find it and read it this winter.

  9. Debbie, I really loved this one, as I do all her books!

  10. I enjoyed this post very much -- haven't read Miss Read for a long time and now want to start again.

    We were talking today about how traveling in the little van as we are now, we are so much more in touch with the weather and time when it gets dark and so on. It's good for us!

  11. Sallie, that's a side benefit I would never have thought of. It's a wonderful life you live!

  12. I think it's just about time for me to take a Miss Read book off the shelf to read. They were my sister's favourites and when she passed away I inherited them all. Along with the little notes she wrote in the margins. It's very sweet to have them.

  13. Oh, Kathie, it makes me both happy and sad to read this.

  14. I'll be spending time with Miss Read this Holiday season for sure. These books seem perfect to cozy up with when winter gets to be too much.

    Luckily, my library has a whole bunch of them. Or did, a few months ago...

  15. This sounds like the perfect Christmas "read" rather than Skipping Christmas! I need to hurry up and finish Time and Again so I can begin my Christmas reading.

  16. Yvette, when I first read her books I borrowed them all from the library - those beautiful editions. I'm happy to say they are all still there. I discovered them many years after they were published. This is my fear when libraries cull out the old books, saving space for the new bestsellers - that those old books won't be there for someone wandering through the aisles. I have come upon many older treasures that way, and it is sad to think they may not always be there for future readers.

    Oh, witty Les!

  17. It's been a week since I last came by to visit and I was surprised to see your dog belly deep in snow. It looks like winter has come to your place.

    I have only read one of the Thrush Green books. Your post reminded me of how much I enjoyed it. I want to return again to that very charming place with such interesting people.

  18. Margot, too funny - that photo was taken a week ago today, and we now have no snow at all, and haven't for many days! Tomorrow a new pic is going up to begin December.
    I love the two worlds of Miss Read - Fairacre and Thrush Green.

  19. This sounds lovely! I have never heard of this series. Looks like you're my go-to lady for finding out about new Christmas books and movies. Thanks!

  20. Michelle, her books are 'gentle reads' but they also talk about situations and people that aren't always pleasant. I think she's a great writer. I love the idea of being a 'go-to lady.' :<)


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