The backstory: At the start of 2016, I pulled out my very favorite Miss Read book, Village Centenary. The novel is structured in months and each chapter explores a month in the year of a village school that is celebrating its 100th anniversary. This year, my own school is celebrating its 250th anniversary and as we think of our past and look to our future, I thought that Miss Read would make a lovely companion for me. For each month of 2016, I plan to read Miss Read’s reflection on the month.
Miss Read is a pseudonym for Dora Jessie Saint, an English author who wrote between 1955 and 1996. Her novels were tales of every day life in small English towns. Village Centenary is set in Fair Acre, an imaginary Cotswold community. As is the case in nearly all of the Fair Acre novels, the novel is written in the first person and it is through our narrator, school teacher Miss Read, that the story unfolds.
March with Miss Read
As March approached, I found myself looking forward to reading my month’s allotment of Miss Read, a sure sign of how much I love these books. I took up the chapter straight away come March 1 and read a small section. It’s like having a good friend back in town; the sort of friend with whom a conversation picks right up where it last left off.
At just under 15 pages, Miss Read’s March chapter passed quickly, rather a lot like my own experience of the month. As her March unfolds, Miss Read prepares to thin her book collection, a task she takes up on a cool March evening. By the end of the night, rather than set aside books to be donated, she is instead happy to be united with familiar stories. Her collection isn’t thinned; instead she embraces some old favorites and by the end of the evening climbs the stairs to her bed with a stack of favorite books to re-read.