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The latest Read chronicle--all about the buzzing state of affairs among a selective spread of English villagers, linked in neighborly gossip and obligation. With a remarkable economy of detail--and a faintly amused tone encapsulating the reigning local mores--the author again populates the village of Thrush Green with breathing beings. By this time, Miss Read's following is assured, sizable--and rapt. Here, the deceptively lazy eddies of events swirl around the upcoming retirement of the Headmistress of the Thrush Green school, Dorothy Watson, and her housemate, close friend, and fellow teacher, little Agnes Fogerty. Timid Agnes can, however, show her mettle--there's a traumatic almost-breakup of the friendship because of a stray cat--and Agnes does allow herself to regret that ""Dear Dorothy could be so downright at times."" For Dorothy and Agnes, there'll be the upsetting matters of moving, buying a car, driving lessons, and those farewell parties. ""Where will it all end?"" While the two rally, the village pops and simmers. Mean old Albert Piggot grumbles away at The Two Pheasants; wife Nelly comforts a friend with a runaway daughter, and cooks for The Fuchsia Bush, where the three ancient Lovelock sisters (""renowned for their parsimony"") dine weekly; elderly Winnie Bailey patiently copes with her nephew, irritating Richard, and his irritating family; and there's the usual to-ing and fro-ing among friends. Mild as milk? Maybe, yet ordinary problems faced by ordinary people tend to loom large as they do everywhere in the absence of major disasters. The village to-do's take place from January's ""howling gale and lashing rain"" through a hot and often lovely summer--when, in the schoolhouse, the sunburnt arms of children ""smelt of freshcooked biscuits."" For the insatiable fans and newcomers--those attracted to the English rural settings within which Miss Read applies her spiderweb skills to the most fragile and slightest of subjects. As always, illustrated with old and new drawings by John S. Goodall.

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 1988
ISBN: 0547525265
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin