Last year, I read the first Barton-in-the-Dale novel, The Little Village School, by Gervase Phinn as part of the 10 Books of Summer challenge. So this year, it seemed very appropriate to continue the series with Trouble at the Little Village as part of the same challenge.
In the first book, Barton-in-the-Dale’s small village school was in trouble, big trouble. In stepped a new head teacher, Mrs Devine, in her red high heel shoes and with her new ideas, hard work and a fresh approach she saved the little school from closure. However education cuts in the county still need to be made so, in the second book, it is proposed that Barton should amalgamate with its neighbouring school at Urebank. Which means that Mrs Devine is now in direct competition with her rival Mr Richardson, a self-important and condescending man, for who will become the newly appointed head teacher of the integrated schools.
Mrs Devine, or Elizabeth as we get to know her outside of school, is a well dressed, smart, practical and kind woman; in stark contrast to her predecessor Miss Sowerbutts and her rival Mr Richardson. Her presence has not only brought about positive changes in the school but also in the lives of many of the villagers too. So to me, it felt like she was the obvious choice for the job but she does have a new dour Minister of Education and an extremely biased councillor to deal with. Again though we are not secluded to just the changes at school – it was lovely to find out about the changes in the lives of some of the villagers, as I think the author has come up with a lovely, colourful collection of characters.
I found this another comforting read with it’s small school and village setting, some touching 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! In this book we have Bianca’s hilarious recollection of her sister giving birth on Christmas day and Oscar’s suggestion for the boys toilets; to name a few. There wasn’t only humour though there are also some very touching and sad elements to the story. With the blossoming romance between Elizabeth and Dr Stirling and more trouble comes the way of poor, young Danny Stainthorpe.
Trouble at the Little Village is a touching and humorous tale of a small school and village, and a very comforting read. So much so I am already reading the third in the series, The School Inspector Calls! Good read.
Have you read this? Or any of Gervase Phinn’s other novels?
10 Books of Summer – 4/10