Books by Miss Read

Released: Oct. 10, 1995

An incidental treat for those addicted to Miss Read's English village tales (Celebrations at Thrush Green, 1993, etc.), those slyly gentle vignettes of neighborly to-ing and fro-ing where civility rules and the countryside is splendidly unspoiled. Here, now, is a collection of brief, affectionately humorous, schoolteacherly bits, based on the author's own short teaching career in rural hamlets in the 1920's. Most of the pieces (many published in Punch) appeared in England during the 1950's when Read's first book, Village School, led off a four-decade cavalcade of steady sellers. In an introduction, the author admits to an aim to ``entertain'' with an account of classroom follies and small village pleasures. And here, as always, her schoolmistress voice is light but firm, with self-deprecating bemusement, secure in lofty authoritarian status, missionand caste. (The children's very local wattle-and-daub diction is a source of not-too-innocent enjoyment.) In spite of the some dated formality and content, the classroom doings are appealing: One child, with ``willow wand arms,'' declares he's for home, resulting in a head-pounding gallop for teacher in pursuit of the mercurial ``horrid child''; then there are floral tributes from another student that arrive from a suspicious source; holiday rehearsals that include some bass singing (`` `It's Eric, Miss. He always honks like that' ''), as well as problems like a venerable leaking roof, a blizzard of interruptions, and a very uncertain discipline. In between are also moments of special (adult) joysas when Miss Read, consigned to offstage sleigh-bell ringing, herself sees, in the momentary eye of childhood, the imaginary ``reindeer spank ahead, heads tossing, silver plumes gushing from their scarlet nostrils into the bright air.'' Old times and timeless children. With illustrations by Kate Dicker that, like the sketches of John Goodall (who usually does the honors for Read), are stiffly naive but somehow just right. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 7, 1993

For the fans, another deep dream of peace—in the doings of that Cotswold English village of Thrush Green, endearingly chronicled as civil neighbors enjoy little pleasures and major satisfactions. In this roughly 42nd tribute to utopian village life (Thrush Green, Fairacre, or Lulling), retired gentleman Harold Shoosmith- -who once in Africa had admired the mission school founded in 1892 by Nathaniel Patten, a Thrush Green native, and had caused a statue in his honor to be erected in Thrush Green—is thrilled when Vicar Charles Henstock receives word that a packet of letters from Patten has been found. Ah, the excitement, the flurry! A dinner party is planned for the man who found the letters and for a young woman who is a direct descendent of Patten's (they're both single—ah, how things work out!). There are plans for a joint celebration of both Patten's contributions and Thrush Green's own schoolhouse centenary. Along the way, there are also, of course, vibrations from former teachers Dorothy and Agnes, and contributions for the mission present-day are meager until.... Meanwhile: Winnie Bailey has an operation; Dotty Harmer is writing a book about her fierce schoolmaster father; and there's the usual hubbub at Christmas. A bedtime soother of remarkable potency for the following. Again, the illustrations by John S. Goodall have a neat, affectionate intimacy. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 17, 1992

A 35th appearance for the author, who, here, takes leave of Friends of Thrush Green (1991) to chronicle neighborly doings in the English village of Fairacre and changes in the career of schoolmistress Miss Read, who narrates. The ``changes'' of the title are those inevitably experienced by people attuned to the millstream pace of a rural community where change comes with a creep as well as a bang. But change does come. Now in the village, farm workers are few and cottages are being bought by ``tinkers'' (young couples with two incomes, no kids); the quiet streets of neighboring towns are choked with traffic; and shawls and ponchos are favored over the essential country cardigan. But, worst of all, the number of village children in Miss Read's school has dwindled to the point where closure is threatened. Some things, however, never change: Miss Read's stout housekeeper, Mrs. Pringle, continues her tirades; the harvest fair and fàte remain cherished events; Miss Read mentally corrects, as ever, double negatives uttered by the yeomanry; and seasonal galas like daffodils and other spring beauties lift the heart. As to new events: Miss Read's dear old friend dies, and Miss Read takes leave of her old house; friend Amy, with whom she takes a welcome holiday, has a problem with a most unwelcome guest; and there are some rampagings of nature—a snowstorm and a hurricane. For the devoted following: a soothing oasis of tidy living for the frazzled reader weary of an untidy world. As always, there are the line drawings by John S. Goodall. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 3, 1991

Miss Read's 34th Thrush Green idyll, illustrated as always by the gentle sketches of genteel chaps and aging lassies of John S. Goodall. What's new now in that English never-never land of secure, truly decent (albeit with a handful of manageable exceptions) country men and women, where no one lacks help or a haven in tribulation? Well, there's a new neighbor, the incoming schoolmaster and his mysteriously perennially ill wife. Mysterious, until it's general knowledge that she has a, uh, problem. Poor Violet Lovelock, youngest of the three antique Lovelock sisters, is in a highly nervous state since eldest sister Beatrice has been discovered popping scones at the Fuchsia Bush tea shop and has moved a considerable number of articles in her bedroom. And lonely farmer Percy (you remember he was disagreeable when schoolteacher Dorothy hit—not fatally—his dog with her new car) is quietly courting, and everyone thinks he's after young Doreen Lilly, who's home with mother and Doreen's fatherless tot. The vicar, the doctor, and all the good people rally round and things seem to be set right. Oh, yes, the retired schoolteachers, Dorothy and Agnes, visit now and then, and on one visit Agnes reveals the shocking news that Dorothy may have more than kindly inclinations toward elderly Teddy in their new village. Agnes fears the worst. More of the soothing same. Take a chapter or two before bedtime. Read full book review >