It will take no more than the siren song on page one--""It was a bleak Saturday afternoon and we were enjoying hot buttered toast by the school house fire""--for Miss Read's following to settle in happily for a sublimely soothing round of English rural-village nothings. During the year covered here, schoolmistress Miss Read mulls the centenary celebration of the village school. She endures, with grim amusement, the flake-flying construction of a roof dormer by a not-too-reliable carpenter (""Proper dog's dinner he'll make of it,"" predicts gardener Willett). She entertains her dear elderly friend Miss Clare, retired schoolmistress of Fairacre; she worries the matter of assistant Miss Briggs, a sulky lump who revives with romance; and she manages both a garden show in the rain and a seaside island holiday with friend Amy. Also on the premises: Mrs. Pringle, that housekeeper of continuous malevolent expression, who declares that Miss Read's holiday did her good, looking as she does ""less like a ghost. . . real white and spiteful""; the vicar, who dresses in ""moonship gear"" to work with bees. And finally there's a centenary pageant--plus good news for Miss Read (who frets over retirement): she's going to inherit Miss Clare's little house. Asleep already? Well, yes, for most readers Miss Read is merely soporific. But for her fans: an alluring vision of a stress-less ideal town--and flawless village custard.