“You are now collecting your People delightfully, getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight of my life; 3 or 4 Families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on.”
–Jane Austen in a letter written to her niece Anna who was then writing novels.
The very thing to work on, and for me, the very thing to read. I tripped over Thrush Green about 5 years ago at the Katonah Library. I have rather Anglophile tastes in books and this looked appealing. Besides, the author’s name was “Miss Read.” Obviously a pseudonym, but how could you go wrong? I took it home and was immediately smitten. I needed to read all of it. Engaging the beautiful inter-library loan system of Westchester County, I was soon getting automated phone messages twice a week telling me my books were ready for pickup. I stacked them all up in order on my dresser, ready to read from start to finish.
“What’s it about?” Jeeps asked.
I thought about it a minute, then answered “Nothing.”
Really. It’s about nothing. Just this place called Thrush Green and the people who live there in the 1950s. No major plot, no Peyton Place drama, no cliffhangers between books. You get to know the characters and follow them about their very ordinary lives. Each book spans roughly a year. The characters come and go: newcomers arrive; babies are born; lifetime residents pass away. Through it all is this charming village green around which life revolves.
I am a sucker for this kind of thing. I ripped through Thrush Green and then went on to read the entire Fairacre series. That was five years ago and I recently got a hankering to go back to the world of Miss Read. At Christmas I thought about buying myself the entire set as a present, but then decided to go the library route again. I’m on the third book of Thrush Green and it’s just as delightful as I remember. There is tea galore but no food worth mentioning so this is a pure “Reads” post.
By the way, a bit of trivia if you are familiar with Enya’s music: she has a track on her Watermark album called “Miss Clare Remembers,” and one on her Shepherd Moons album titled “No Holly for Miss Quinn.” Both are books in the Fairacre series.
Wondering if there were other fans out there, I found this post from the blog Eclectic Books which beautifully expresses exactly how I feel about the series:
I’ve tried to explain why these books work so well as mood enhancers for me and what I like about them with varying degrees of success. Usually someone who has read some of them understands, but from those who haven’t I frequently get puzzled looks and polite nods…I’ve given this a lot of thought and decided that I have to give it one more try.
For me, reading these novels is akin to visiting old friends from back home and it’s the back home part that’s important. It’s back home the way you remember it, the way you always want it to stay. I turn to Miss Read for the same reason that I might call my sister or nephew or an old friend–just to immerse myself, for a little while, in the details of ordinary life so I can escape whatever ugliness has imposed itself. I don’t need to dwell on what’s wrong; I need to be reminded that life goes on in all of its ordinary, sometimes wacky details and that it will continue to go on in spite of what seems to be overwhelming me at the moment.
“The Comfort of Miss Read” by Becky, the “Cerebral Rat”, Eclectic Books, 2009