CHRISTMAS AT FAIRACRE, Miss Read, 2006, Orion Books, 9780752877976
This is an omnibus collection containing “No Holly for Miss Quinn” (1976), “The Christmas Mouse” (1973), and a very short five or six page description of Fairacre School’s end-of-term just before the Christmas break (1955).
Miss Read is the pseudonym of Dora Jessie Saint, an English schoolteacher and novelist who died in 2012. She started writing after World War II, and is best known for her charming, witty, and ironic novels of English village life.
I own almost every book Miss Read ever wrote, and couldn’t really say whether I prefer the Thrush Green series or the Fairacre books. Since I’ve already posted my reviews of the only two HNR Christmas books I was assigned over the years, I’ve turned to my own bookshelves to find a holiday recommendation. There is nothing more relaxing than a trip back to Miss Read’s imaginary village of Fairacre some forty or fifty years ago. At Christmastime Miss Quinn must deal with an unexpected change of plans, and two late night visitors almost upend Christmas at the Fuller cottage. Miss Read and her class are busy giving a tea party at the school.
Christmas at Fairacre makes a nice start for new readers. The stories are set in the Fairacre world, but don’t follow the recurring characters in the books. New fans can go back and start reading the series in order, starting with Village School, first published in 1955.