At the beginning of June, hoping to get my 10 Books of Summer reading off to a good start, I picked up The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn; a Barton-in-the-Dale novel. I have fond memories of Miss Read’s Village School and hoped this would be a similarly comforting read.
Barton-in-the-Dale’s small village school is in trouble, big trouble. The school is old, tired, unloved and poorly managed. Her Majesty’s Inspector’s have given the school a damning report and parents are beginning to take their children elsewhere. In steps the new head teacher Mrs Devine, in her red high heel shoes, with new ideas and a fresh approach. As the tag line says: change is coming… But Mrs Devine won’t have an easy job though. With a sour former head teacher, nervous staff, a grumpy care taker, duplicitous governors, and village gossips to contend with.
Mrs Devine is a well dressed, smart, practical and kind woman. In stark contrast to her predecessor Miss Sowerbutts; a domineering and stubborn woman. Sower by name, sour by nature. Mrs Devine’s presence is not only to bring about positive changes in the school but also in the lives of many of the villagers too. I enjoyed finding out about the school as well as the lives of some of the villagers. Including Mrs Devine, deputy head Miss Brakespeare, Mr Stainthorpe and his grandson Danny, Dr Stirling and his son James, Reverend Atticus and his wife, and village gossip Mrs Sloughthwaite. I think the author has come up with a lovely, colourful collection of characters.
I found The Little Village School did have a similarly comforting feel to Miss Read’s Village School. With the small school and village setting, insights into the lives of the villagers, and some lovely touches of humour. The humour, for me, came mostly from the children. Working in a school myself I have heard many of the honest, touching and often hilarious things children can come out with. The difference would be that Phinn, the author, has brought a more contemporary and up-to-date setting, style and humour to The Little Village School. There wasn’t only humour though there are also some very touching and sad elements to the story. I must admit near the end I got a little teary.
The Little Village School is a touching and humorous book, and a comforting read. I recommend to those interested in small village life in England and perhaps those looking for a more modern Miss Read. Good read.
Have you read this? Or Miss Read’s village series? If you have any recommendations for other village books, please let me know.
10 Books of Summer – 1/10