I loved this book so much so am sharing my review here as well–it appears as usual on goodreads here.
I’ve read only a few books by Miss Read so far, but each one I’ve picked up has been delightful and this one proved no different. Storm in the Village is the third of her Fairacre chronicles set in the village of Fairacre and narrated by Miss Read, the headmistress of the village school and in charge of the older students, while the ‘infants’ are taught by her assistant/junior Miss Hillary Jackson, who we’d met in the last book. In this one, a storm certainly is brewing in Fairacre when it seems that a new estate—quite literally a new township—for an atomic institute is being proposed on the hundred-acre farm belonging to Mr Miller, right between Fairacre and Beach Green. This means hundreds of new residents, buses, new water and sewerage connections, even a new school. In short, life at Fairacre seems set to be turned on its head, not to mention a farm and a beautiful part of the village set to be lost, and most residents disapprove. This development also doesn’t spell good news for Miss Read for if the new school comes up, Fairacre school is likely to be affected and then, what will she do? But this is not the only storm brewing in the little village. Miss Jackson seems to have fallen in love with a rather unsuitable man and refuses to see reason—ending up a source of anxiety not only to Miss Read but also Miss Clare in whose house she is a lodger. Life in a little English village might not sound like much, but it is never uneventful, here storms are brewing and thunder and lightning getting set to begin. Meanwhile, other more ‘regular’ events, the flower show, baby-sitting for the Annets, a collapsing roof, and troubles down at Tyler’s row also continue. [No bodies though which one begins to expect around every corner after reading too much Miss Marple or the Midsomer Murders 😉 ]
I started my review by saying how delightful a read this was and I’ll say it here again! The thing about Miss Read is while her settings are idyllic, and her descriptions make you want to live in these places and in the houses (Miss Clare’s in particular for me), they are never unrealistic or the stuff of dreams. This is real life in its full flavour with all its ups but also its downs—illness, death, heartbreak, poverty, misery, family troubles—and not all of it always get sorted the ‘happily-ever-after’ way either, but just the simplicity of life she depicts, of life back when one had much less but was in some ways far happier, always leaves one with a happy, pleasant, feeling, a sense of peace when you read them. Miss Read has a lot on her plate in this one, beginning with the skylight smashing nearly on her head, to the impending new ‘development’ in the village (this reminded me a lot of the Miss Marple books, and how they adjusted to the new settlements in the village—The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side), Miss Jackson’s problems, and Miss Clare’s health but she still manages to find many moments of happiness for herself and for others as well. [I just glanced at my review of Thrush Green and realised this is sounds almost exactly like that—but these are the feelings that I have about the book so I won’t change them, that is, not my review]. I also loved how the sections of the book were arranged around the storm theme—from the straws in the wind to the storm breaking and unleashing the thunder and lightning, to things finally calming down again. Needless to say, I adored J.S. Goodall’s illustrations as always. A wonderful wonderful read—I am so very glad she wrote thirty-three books (both series together) and I have so many more still left to enjoy.