Thrush Green is the first book in this series by Miss Read. I’ve listened to several others in the series on audio but then decided I should start at the very beginning. I’ve been tempted by these lovely Houghton Mifflin American paperbacks (although still with the beautiful original drawings by J S Goodall) so I have the first two books on the shelves.
This first book takes place over one day, May Day, when the fair run by the formidable Mrs Curdle, comes to Thrush Green. As morning breaks, the caravans arrive with the stalls, rides, animals & games. Mrs Curdle has been coming to Thrush Green for many years but there are rumours that this will be the last year. She’s getting old & her health isn’t good & she doesn’t feel that she has anyone to hand the running of the fair on to. Her grandson Sam is a bad lot & her other grandson, Ben, has been sullen & out of sorts for months. Mrs Curdle looks forward to consulting old Dr Bailey, the only doctor she trusts after he safely delivered her son, George, many years ago.
Dr Bailey is also feeling his age &, after a bout of illness, is trying to come to a decision about his practice. He has a young GP, Dr Lovell, helping out & he wonders whether he should offer him a partnership. Dr Lovell is enjoying his time in Thrush Green very much, especially since he met beautiful Ruth Bassett. Ruth is staying with her sister & brother-in-law after her fiancé left her just before her wedding. Her broken heart is mending slowly & Dr Lovell is hoping that he can spend more time in Thrush Green to help with that healing. Grumpy Albert Piggott makes his daughter, Molly’s, life a misery with his complaints & bad temper. She has started working at a pub some distance away, only coming home at weekends, but her hopes are centred on the fair. Last year, Molly & Ben Curdle spent an enchanted day together & she has waited all year to see him again.
Bossy, dogmatic Ella Bembridge & her timid friend, Dimity Dean, have several dramas to cope with over the course of the day & eccentric Dotty Harmer causes Ella some pain with a case of Dotty’s Colliwobbles after eating some of her quince jelly. This is a lovely, gentle book, introducing most of the Thrush Green characters. Before the day is over, decisions will be made that affect the lives of several residents of Thrush Green.
Reading books out of order can have its downside. I was pleased to find out in this book why Dotty’s cat was called Mrs Curdle. This had puzzled me as I’d read a couple of the later books in the series & had no idea who Mrs Curdle was & why a cat would have such an unusual name. Perfect comfort reading.