Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I Read in September Part I

What I Read in September Part I . . .

Village School (Fairacre, #1)Village School (Chronicles of Fairacre 1) by Miss Read -- Historical Fiction

Miss Read is a schoolteacher in a sleepy little English village. She loves her school and is dedicated to helping the children be the best they can be. This story takes us through a school year in the village of Fairacre as seen through the eyes of Miss Read. It's a pleasant, homey, sort of read. There's no central plot, just a chapter or two of narrative at a time so you can pick it up and put it down at leisure. At times I found myself very interested in what was happening and wanted to know what would happen next but then nothing did happen. Other times I wasn't too interested. The characters don't really stand out very much and I had a hard time remembering who they all were.

Though the book is set in the 1950s, there are very few contemporary references. It reminded me a lot of Lark Rise to Candleford and Anne of Avonlea.

Village Diary (Chronicles of Fairacre, #2)Village Diary (Chronicles of Fairacre 2) by Miss Read -- Historical Fiction

Miss Read chronicles a year in her village school. There's a new, unmarried man in the village and all the gossips have him walking down the aisle with Miss Read. She is not so interested. She has her hands full dealing with the new infants' teacher who is trained in all the modern methods and child psychology and finds herself chafing at the old-fashioned methods employed in the village school. Miss Read's old school friend Amy visits frequently only to bring Miss Read out into the great wide world, assuming the teacher is bored and lonely in the country. There's also the county play in which the villagers are chosen to play Romans vs. Ancient Britons. Miss Read must also deal with the cantankerous old Mrs. Pringle who cleans the school with lots of grumbling. Miss Read enjoys the simple pleasures of village life though and wouldn't change a thing. Babies are born, people die and progress changes things a bit but still the school carries on.

This book is better than the first because now I am familiar with the characters and the rhythm of village life. There's a lot of subtle humor in the story and more conflict to deal with. The new characters introduce more humor but my favorite is Mrs. Pringle, the drama queen. I can easily picture her the queen of the village. Miss Read has a lot of patience but she finally snaps in this book and I like her better for standing up for herself. The children are charming and more distinguishable by now. Joseph Coggs and his family illustrates the negative aspects to village life. I kept feeling bad for young Joseph and wishing his mother could take the kids and go away.

I can see this being a TV series on PBS because it bridges the gap between the idyllic 19th century pre-industrial life and modern society.

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