Barbara Buncle has written a book. We never even get to read Miss Buncle’s book-but we really don’t have to. The reactions and the criticisms to Disturber of the Peace are entertaining on their own.
Feeling the pinch in her wallet Miss Buncle decides to write a book to bring in extra money. The book is about Silverstream, her small unassuming English town and its residents. Self described as unimaginative Miss Buncle simply writes about the exploits of her neighbors, peppering in escapades of her own and changes the names. She doesn’t even try to disguise her neighbors. She sends her manuscript to the first publisher she finds and becomes an author. Just like that. This is an excellent idea for a book, and I don’t think I’ve read a plot like it before.
Miss Buncle’s book becomes a bestseller and the fits begin almost immediately as the residents recognize themselves. Some find it funny and truthful, others feel that it is slanderous and will do just about anything to find the author and punish him. The town is looking for the author, but they have no idea who ‘John Smith’ is but they are sure he lives among them. What’s even better is that no one suspects Barbara at all, they see her as too silly and dimwitted to have written such a book. Miss Buncle’s success brings with it money, a sense of security, and a new found self-confidence. The fairytale does not end there.
‘It’s a kind of-a kind of allegory,’ continued Sally gravely, ‘Here’s this horrible little village, full of its own affairs and its own importance, all puffed up and smug and conventional and satisfied with itself, and then suddenly their eyes are opened and their shackles fall off and they act according to their real natures. They are not shams anymore, they’re real. It’s simply marvellous,’ Sally said, turning a shining face upon the astonished author.