The Little Village School
by Gervase Phinn
“She was wearing red shoes!” gasped the caretaker, incomprehension creeping across his face.
Elisabeth Devine is something of a mystery. Why should a highly successful head teacher of an inner-city primary school move to a small rural school in the Yorkshire Dales to face so many challenges? There are the declining number of pupils and the poor state of the building for a start and then there are the disparaging former head teacher, the gloomy caretaker and the amorous chair of governors to contend with. Those in the village are intrigued by the appearance of the new young and attractive head teacher and gossip is rife.
As I mentioned in this Top Ten Tuesday post, books about teachers, teaching, school and similar topics appeal so much to me. I’m training to be a teacher, so maybe that’s the reason why I like reading these books.
Gervase Phinn is the author of the Dales series where he writes his personal story of being a school inspector in the Yorkshire Dales, England. The Little Village School is the first book in the new Barton in the Dales series about a young woman starting as head teacher in a small village school that recently received a terrible report and now has to deal with the consequences.
I really enjoy Gervase Phinn’s writing and adored his Dales series so I when I saw this new book last year while in London it was an instant buy for me. I started it immediately after coming home but at that time it wasn’t the right book for my mood and I put it back on my shelf again and picked it up again just recently. This time it was the perfect book. I flew through it in two or three days and enjoyed it as much as all of Gervase’s other books.
Barton in the Dale is a small village with a tightly knit social structure and outsiders are viewed with (a lot of) suspicion from many. Elizabeth Devine is not only an outsider applying for the job as head teacher, she also wore red shoes with silver heels for her interview and nobody knows anything about her. With her charm, her ways of supporting the village businesses, her commitment for the little school and her wonderful character she slowly wins the villagers over. Elizabeth is a lovely character who is a teacher by heart - always has the students interests at heart, tells people what she thinks even if that makes them dislike her and puts all her energy into the school, her teaching colleagues and her pupils.
Elizabeth’s students are a lovely bunch of rural kids who know their way around the countryside, have a vast knowledge of sheep, of how to get rid of rabbits and moles and are witty and so always try to behave their best (even if sometimes they can’t but hey, they are kids, right?).
The little village school is another one of Gervase Phinn’s masterpieces with vivid scenery, wonderful characters (I especially fell for Danny and James) and a story that made me laugh a lot of times and cry like a baby. For me it had everything I expected from it and much more. I will definitely buy the second book in the series and I am looking forward to revisiting Barton in the Dale and all its lovely townsfolk.
The Books in the Barton in the Dale series are:
- The Little Village School
- Trouble at the Little Village School
For more information about Gervase Phinn visit his Homepage.