Village School was first published in 1955 by Dora Jessie Saint (Miss Read), a British school teacher turned author and is the first in the beloved Miss Read series. If you think the novel is dated, you're wrong. Village School is a return to a gentler time. Miss Read can make shining the school's pot belly stove sound interesting. She is, as far as I'm concerned, Jan Karon's predecessor.
Miss Read is the schoolmistress in the English village of Fairacre, where she's lived for five years. She is charged with the older children's education and Miss Claire teaches kindergarten and first grade--the 'babies.'
Village School is an intimate look at the inner workings of an English village and its inhabitants. School lunches come packed in pails, the children are loved and disciplined, and Mrs. Pringle, the elderly woman who cleans the school, doesn't approve of much, but she can make the old stove shine.
Village School takes place one fall and introduces the reader to humor, drama and a touch of romance. There are thatched roofs, trials and tribulations and unique characters that will touch your heart and make you long for the 'olden days.' You're introduced to jumble sales, fetes and festivals, and all things that represent British rural education.
There's young Joseph Coggs, (his father spent an evening at the Beetle and woke most of the village with his fervor), Eileen Burton (who suffers a 'knicker' calamity), Linda Moffet (a newcomer to Fairacre and immaculate in her dress), Mrs. Pringle (who has an opinion about everything), the lovely Miss Claire, Reverend Partridge, and then there's Miss Read herself.
Our world is fast-paced, confusing, stressful and frightening at times. Village School is a delightful respite from the 'now.' This series is my all-time favorite, and I highly recommend it for a visit to a time and place we all long for. Once you enter Miss Read's world, you'll want to stay.
Armchair Interviews says: Start with Village School and then take a journey with Miss Read through more village life adventures with Village Diary.