No, I do not have a friend named Barbara Buncle.
However, the book belonging to this title is an old friend of mine. If you’ve ever read D. E. Stevenson, then you know what a light, relaxing, thoroughly British read she provides. Although she wrote in the thirties and forties, her characters are fully as real as Jane Austen’s, and a good deal funnier!
Imagine a thirty-ish British lady living quietly in the country who (due to pecuniary difficulties) suddenly decides to write a book. Since she has no imagination, she turns to her neighbors for material. Happily for her pocketbook, she is uncannily good at capturing personalities, and her book is a bestseller. Unfortunately for her peace, her neighbors cannot fail to recognize themselves in its pages, and all bedlam breaks loose.
Miss Buncle is a real innocent, who happily renames her characters with very recognizable pseudonyms. For instance, their town of Silverstream becomes Copperfield. Dr. Walker becomes Dr. Rider, Colonel Weatherhead equals Major Waterfoot and, in a sequel, her publishers (Abbot and Spicer) are transmogrified into Nunn and Nutmeg. Good thing Miss Buncle is savvy enough to call herself “John Smith,” or she’d be toast!