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REVIEW: The Two Mrs. Abbotts by D.E. Stevenson

Two-Mrs-Abbotts

Another hilarious tale of misadventure with the beloved Miss Buncle!

The third book in D.E. Stevenson’s beloved Miss Buncle series, The Two Mrs. Abbotts takes us back to the delightful English town of Wandlebury, where Barbara Abbott (formerly Buncle) has her hands full raising two children in the midst of World War II along with keeping an eye on her niece, Jerry Abbott. Of course, Barbara isn’t too busy to observe her neighbors’ lives, and her curiosity and tendency toward matchmaking leads her into some sticky situations. Readers will enjoy the new characters and hilarious social situations in the latest Buncle adventure.

Dear Readers,

As the blurb promises, this is the third in this series of books by the late D.E. Stevenson. I will offer that in my opinion, the book focuses mainly on the second Mrs. Abbot – who is married to the nephew of Barbara’s husband – rather than on Barbara herself. In fact a greater part of the book doesn’t feature Barbara at all, which I missed as she is such a delightful person.

But there is an unexpected appearance by a character from book one, “Miss Buncle’s Book” and I enjoyed it almost as much as Barbara does. It helps to tie the series together a bit and offers some insight into the people Barbara left behind when she did a runner after her identity got blown.

As with the second book “Miss Buncle Married,” there is an emphasis on the changes going on through England at the time. And here it’s all about WWII. The rations, the blackout, the evacuees from the bombs of London, the difficulty in getting men to work on farms, the feelings of men who were deemed of more use working those farms rather than fighting but who wrestled with their consciences nonetheless, the potential of spies on the loose and soldiers quartered in homes and estates all over the country. The fading remnants of the “upper class with servants” lifestyle is still hanging on but there are signs of the social changes that were still to come. I did have some issues with the way the lower classes were portrayed, especially the evacuees from London, as dirty, slovenly and untrustworthy. But this appears to be common in books written in this era.

One thing I loved is that a major character is Miss Marks – former governess to Jerry Abbott – who is lovingly known as Markie. Markie is an intelligent woman who has found her place of older age and who delights in being useful. It is she who integrates the young soldiers who are staying on the property into life at Ganthorne – well she is used to getting young women to do what she wants – and who gently but firmly guides a young woman in a crisis. With Markie giving you pointers, you can’t go wrong in life. It’s also Markie who is the heroine of the day when her astute observations nab the very person the soldiers have been looking for.

There is a romance that is sweet and charming featuring one character whom I frankly didn’t care for from the second book. In fact I called him an ass. Here over the course of 6 years he’s changed and much for the better. I guess every character deserves another chance and his added responsibilities have been the making of him. Now if he can only fend off his sister’s helpful, if meddlesome, attempts to marry him off while he conducts his own courtship of the lovely woman who has caught his eye, all will be well in Wandlebury. Poor thing has the added burden that his lady love is a romance author who has had her book heroes pinch all the best places and times to propose so Archie will have to use his ingenuity to come up with something Different and Unique. Suffice it to say that he does.

Barbara is still taking a keen interest in those around her and her eagerness to please almost leads her into a sticky situation as the blurb says. However she’s also grown in confidence over the years and settled comfortably into married life and motherhood. All in all, I enjoyed this book better than the last though “Miss Buncle” still remains my favorite. B

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

10 Comments

  1. Patricia Eimer
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 12:01:58

    This series sounds really cute. I’m going to have to see if they’re at my library.

  2. Amy Kathryn
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 12:14:23

    I think my favorites of this loosely tied quartet are the first Miss Buncle which I read due to your review (thanks!) and the last, The Four Graces which is being reissued in July. After enjoying these so much, I tracked down a lot of her other books through Interlibrary Loan and cheapish copies on the used market. There are some I did not like, but most were so fun to read as they are very character and place based which really rings my reader bell.

  3. Jayne
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 12:24:58

    @Amy Kathryn: I need to check out the ILL for her books since they haven’t all been winners for me. This series I’ve enjoyed but “Clementina” wasn’t that good, IMO.

  4. Amy Kathryn
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 13:25:37

    @Jayne: I haven’t tried Clementina yet in part because of your review. I was also not a big fan of the first Mrs. Tim book so did not read that series.

    I liked the Katherine Wentworth books, Kate Hardy, and The Blue Sapphire. I really liked Five Windows and its loose sequel The Tall Stranger. I keep doling them out since I know there is a limited number of her books to enjoy.

  5. Lory
    Jan 11, 2014 @ 19:07:56

    Thanks for another thoughtful review. I’m still in the middle of this, but see my review of the first two books for a giveaway from the publisher:The Emerald City Book Review 

  6. Jayne
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 03:40:43

    @Amy Kathryn: Yikes – I just checked out online prices for used copies of these books. I think looking for them at my library will be my next stop. ;)

  7. Jayne
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 03:45:44

    @Lory: Well done reviews, Lory. I’ll check back at your blog to see what you think of this one. Have you read any other Stevenson books?

  8. Elizabeth
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 16:42:52

    I’m delighted to know that some at least of D. E. Stevenson’s books are being reprinted — I grew up on ancient copies from the public library. Her prose has a distinctively simple cadence, almost predictable, almost sing-song at times.

    With the exception of the early Mrs. Tim and Miss Buncle series, I’ve tended to prefer her later, post-war novels (The Blue Sapphire, The Listening Valley, Bel Lamington, Kate Hardy, Gerald and Elizabeth, etc). But in looking up the reprints I discovered that several of her earliest novels have been found and are being published — what an exciting opportunity to see how she developed as a writer!

  9. Jayne
    Jan 13, 2014 @ 04:57:07

    @Elizabeth: Oh good, that’s 2 recs for these particular post war books.

  10. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
    Mar 16, 2014 @ 13:44:04

    Jayne, I have also read The Young Clementina but found the plot of that one a bit all over the place. I would like to track down the Mrs. Tim books as those seem to be favorites of many. For those who like Stevenson, she reminds me somewhat of Joan Aiken, also worthy of rediscovery!

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