Friday, August 2, 2019

Village School by Miss Read

I thoroughly enjoyed Miss Read's Thrush Green series and have long looked forward to beginning her Fairacre series. As in the first Thrush Green book, I was introduced to a dizzying amount of characters, but I know that as the series develops, all of them will become as familiar to me as old friends.

The main character in Village School is the school mistress, Miss Read and the stories are based on the author's (her real name is Dora Jessie Saint) many years of teaching. If you are looking for a thrilling page-turner, please look elsewhere. These books describe commonplace activities with charm and gentle wit. The descriptions are lovely:

Behind the tractor wheeled and fluttered a flock of hungry rooks, scrutinizing the fresh-turned ribs of earth for food; their black shapes rose and scattered like flakes of burnt paper from a bonfire.

No English village story would be complete without a vicar and a chapel. While decorating the church for the Harvest Festival, Miss Read writes:

The troubles and vexations of the last twenty-four hours suddenly seemed less oppressive. It is difficult, I reflected, to take an exaggerated view of any personal upheaval when standing in a building that has witnessed the joys, the hopes, the griefs, and all the spiritual tremors of mortal man for centuries.... In the presence of this ancient, silent witness, it was right that personal cares should assume their own insignificant proportions. They were, after all, as ephemeral as the butterflies that hovered over the Michaelmas daisies on the graves outside.

As I said earlier, there isn't much of a storyline, but I very much look forward to getting to know Miss Read, her students, and neighbors in the coming months. Friends who have read both sets of novels say they prefer the Fairacre folks. I have a hard time imagining that I could love any group more than my Thrush Green family, so I'm interested in what my final verdict will be.



Sherry said...

I've read Miss Read off and on for over 30 years. Fairacre is my favorite.

Marie said...

I always look forward to your posts and enjoy them all. Miss Read is a favorite of mine, and though she does not write page-turners, as you say, she always writes with gentleness. As you illustrated, her work is very descriptive. I have read all of her books and turn to them often for a peaceful read, and I love both series. She preferred her Thrush Green books, which were written out of her imagination completely. She called her characters her "dolls" that she enjoyed playing with.