Cover detail of Village Diary by Miss Read

Village Diary and Storm in the Village by Miss Read

Since returning to work, I have had a bit of a mini-crisis over the blog. I still love reading, coffee and cake and that will never change, and I love sharing good reads with you all. But heavens I am struggling to fit it in and as a result I am considerably behind on my reviews. This has led to me feeling a wee bit stressed over what to do. I love my blog, but I am shattered and don't feel I am doing it justice. So my plan is to catch up a bit with my reviews and have a jolly good think about what to do next year.

At the time of writing I have 12 reviews written. So today, I am combining two of them and they are from my old friend Miss Read.

Read a list of the Miss Read Books in Order

I genuinely cannot believe it is so long since I read a Miss Read novel. After last years #missreadreadalong where we read the Thrush Green novels of Miss Read in order, I decided to give this years challenge a miss, choosing to read the Fairacre novels in my own time.

Read my review of Village School by Miss Read

Village Diary and Storm in the Village are books 2 and 3 in the Fairacre series. You can read them as stand alone, but I would recommend reading them in order. It was lovely to visit Miss Read, especially as I needed a bit of reading comfort. By the way does anyone else do this? Fall back on a favourite author or book when life becomes a bit overwhelming?

Village Diary

The Plot

Each chapter in the Village Diary is a month in the life of the headmistress of Fairacre School. With kindly humour she relates all the difficulties and all the enjoyment of living in a small community.
Miss Read's humour lasts through staff problems, a village decision to marry her off and a nagging cleaning lady. But when she writes about her younger pupils, that amusement bursts into laughter.

My Thoughts

Just what I needed! At Christmas, Miss Read is given a diary and this captures her year in Fairacre village. This reads a little differently to the other Fairacre novels, as it does read like a collection of diary entries. As well as events that occur in the village, we are treated to Miss Read's musings - her thoughts on the married state, or the difficulties of making a headmistress' wage last throughout summer.

As can be expected, there are lots of village events taking place and lots to amuse. The discussions about Fairacre WI's 'scene from history' is particularly joyous as we witness Mrs Pringle's thoughts on getting her feet out.

Indeed it is often Miss Read's and Mrs Pringle's combative relationship that provide a good amount of humour. Mrs Pringle's saccharine view of a possible romance for Miss Read maddening Miss Read somewhat!

As always, it is a delight passing a year in the nature of Fairacre, whose love is shared by the pupils at the school. We muse on the passing of the seasons and the long-held traditions that occur within a country village. Miss Read's voice is clear, her wit dry and the observations are sublime. I very much enjoyed reading this again.

Storm in the Village

The Plot

Alarming rumours are circulating in Fairacre.
One bright, spring morning 2 strangers arrive in Hundred-Acre Field which lies behind Miss Clare's cottage, and the village bush-telegraph begins to buzz. A large housing estate is to be built here and on the downs beyond.
What will Mr Miller who has farmed there all his life think of this? Is it true that Fairacre School is set to close as soon as the new one is built? Protest meetings, culminating in a Public Inquiry, provide a stormy background to the daily round of Miss Read, Mrs Pringle, Miss Clare and all our Fairacre friends.

My Thoughts

Storm in the Village is the 3rd novel in the Fairacre series. You can dibble into them as stand alone novels, but I would read them in order as you can follow the village and characters through their story arc over the decades.

And this brings me to my first point, these are a wonderful glimpse into England's social landscape. The first novel, Village School, was very much set in a village with stay-at home mums, and few husbands 'working up the atomic'. Here we see the fabric of village threatened. With a much bigger village, the school will change, shops will close and there is the desecration of the beautiful Downs landscape. It comes with plenty of benefits - better water supply and electricity, more buses to the next town.

This is not the only battle taking place, as Miss Read's fellow teacher, Miss Jackson, faces a storm in her personal life which is keenly felt by Miss Read and the wonderful Miss Clare. Mrs Pringle is back and ready to spar with Miss Read, and their battles are told with Miss Read's customary dry sense of humour.

These books have been a delight to read and I have very much enjoyed meeting up with my old friends.