Friday, August 10, 2007

Miss Read of Fairacre

In the past year, I've become a complete junkie for the books of Miss Read. The name is a pseudonym for Dora Saint, a prolific British writer who began writing novels in the mid-1950s and retired in the 1990s. Her books are part comedies of error, part character sketches, and part philosophy. The tone reminds me of Jane Austen. The style reminds me of a British cozy mystery. When trouble stirs, the characters typically retreat to the garden with a cup of tea and a pot of marmalade to go with their bread. All will inevitably be well.

Even the resident curmudgeon earns the sympathy of the intrepid Miss Read, our schoolteacher narrator in the Fairacre series. Miss Read is a single woman who relishes her status as a stereotypical spinster schoolmarm. She gently reminds the reader of the virtues of a small school where the teacher knows all the students and their families. And she enjoys all the seasons of country living, especially the warm lush summers of her Cotswold village.

I love everything about the books, especially Miss Read herself. For starters, she's whip smart about people. She's a little sarcastic and not-so-secretly sentimental and she works remarkably hard to succeed at her role in life. She's happy. I admire her strength and courage. She's one of a handful of fictional characters whom I long to meet. I'd give her a cup of tea with some fresh cookies and we'd settle in for a nice long chat.

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