Miss Clare Remembers by Miss Read
I am currently sat writing this post in the middle of a heatwave. I'm on my 3rd pint of orange squash and am feeling the heat. It's heaven! This weekend has also been lovely and reminded me how much I love living in the village we have moved to. Yesterday there was a nature count in the Churchyard which is situated behind our house.
This was straightforward, armed with a clipboard, pen and paper we recorded the nature that we saw - grass, plants, insects, lichen, trees and flowers for 2 hours. It was a delightful way to spend the time. Of course there was a plant sale and a cake stand. (We treated ourselves to some delicious chocolate buns). I'm not going to lie, we were a bit rubbish at identifying plants....insects and indeed any of the nature that we saw. At one point I did find myself writing 'hovery fly thingy'. But all felt it was quite a meditative way to spend a Saturday morning. Often we are passing through the Church yard, on our way out for a walk, but this was time to sit and really look at the countryside around us.
My next review features an author who appears extremely often on the blog, and whose novels are a celebration of the country. It feels appropriate to put this review up today after such a gentle weekend. I loved every second reading this book.
No-one can evoke the life of today's countryside as well as Miss Read: now she brings to life the countryside of the past. Miss Clare was born into a home where food and clothing were hard-earned, where oil and candles were luxuries. Now in her retirement Miss Clare - village schoolmistress and devoted countrywoman - looks back at a richly rewarding life.
One of the things I enjoy most about the novels of Miss Read is how she manages to keep a series of books about a village so fresh and interesting. She has picked the setting, chosen her wonderful, vibrant characters and now she gets to play with the style.
We've had the life of a village school, over the year; A novel written in the style of a diary - providing a glimpse of our author's thoughts during her daily jottings. And now we have a memoir of one of the most beloved characters, Miss Clare.
Told through flashback as Miss Clare wakes on a day where her friend, Emily Davis, is due to visit, we see Fairacre, Beech Green and Caxley in a much earlier time. It's a marvellous glimpse into history as we learn what it was like to grow up in the late Victoria and Edwardian era. Understandably, we read a different voice to Miss Read. This is, after all, Miss Clare's story.
Dolly Clare is gentle, kind and serious. The most beautiful and most poignant of writing surrounds loss of loved ones. Here we saw grief at its rawest. In her memories of the First World War, we see Dolly wave off her fiancé to war, and await news of him.
Mrs Pringle, of course, makes a brief, curmudgeonly appearance to provide a small bit of comedic relief. It's nice to see this collection of characters bound up within each others lives, like good friends.
This is a lovely read, told beautifully and poignantly and is a welcome addition to the Fairacre series.