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Changes at Fairacre


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Changes are afoot in the village of Fairacre...

About the Author

Miss Read, or in real life Dora Saint, was born 17 April 1913. A teacher by profession, she started writing after the Second World War for Punch and other journals and as a scriptwriter for the BBC. She is the author of many immensely popular books, including two autobiographical works, but it is for her novels of English rural life for which she is best known. The first of these, Village School, was published in 1955 and Miss Read continued to write about the fictitious villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green until her retirement in 1996. She lives in Berkshire, and in the 1998 New Year Honours list was awarded an MBE for her services to literature.


In the 35th novel to be set in the tiny British villages of Thrush Green and Fairacre, the characters and settings are as familiar and comfortable as old shoes. The pseudonymous Read has created an orderly universe in which people are kind and conscientious and cherish virtues and manners now considered antiquated elsewhere. But unwelcome changes are making themselves felt in the villages. Miss Read inherits Dolly Clare's little cottage at Thrush Green, her grief at the death of her old friend and mentor somewhat assuaged by the security of home ownership; the declining enrollment at Fairacre School, where Miss Read teaches, may lead to its closing. Improved highways, higher salaries and the ubiquity of the automobile have enabled many Fairacre inhabitants to shop in distant cities and educate their children at larger schools miles away. Bucolic life has given way to those of the busy, two-income commuter families who have scarcely enough time to plant a few flowers in their gardens. The novel's slight plot sometimes gets in the way of Read's wonderful descriptive abilities, but her characters, as always, fairly leap off the pages; the cantankerous, Cassandra-like Mrs. Pringle; her feekless daughter, Minnie; the crusty old factotum, Mr. Willet; and the young Joseph Coggs-are all completely believable. Read writes with deep affection about what she knows and never succumbs to the temptation of clich6s. An occasional visit to Fairacre offers a restful change from the frenetic pace of the contemporary world. (Sept.)

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