This book is extremely meta, but in the best of ways.
It's a book about a woman who writes a book about herself writing books. Catch that?
Miss Barbara Buncle, a fortysomething spinster who lives off her dividends, must come up with a financial plan once those dividends begin to run thin. A single woman in rural England, she has few notable talents aside from being patently unfashionable and slightly socially awkward. To raise money, she sees two options: raise chickens or write a book. Since she loathes chickens, she opts for the latter, and she writes about the only thing she knows: her neighbors.
Because she has "no creativity," Miss Buncle presents her thinly-veiled depiction of in Silverstream (the town is Goldstream in her book) to a publisher, who launches it to the world at large. The public, assuming that it's satire, lauds the books to the point that Silverstream picks up on the bestseller and is out for blood, searching for the true identity of the author John Smith.
Halfway through her novel-within-a-novel, Miss Buncle introduces a Golden Boy, a fae-like flutist, who dances through the town and changes everything. Correspondingly, she begins to pair off neighbors, punish the deserving, and send the town lesbians (ok, it's never stated, but that's what I gathered) off on an exotic desert vacation. And, like the internal novel, about halfway through, everything slowly begins to change, and it is hilarious.
This book was delightful. I don't much remember the day I spent reading it because I don't know that I did much else. I couldn't put it down. I just wanted to see what trouble Miss Buncle was going to get into next. I loved her neighbors. I loved her maid. I loved her publisher. And most of all, I loved her Golden Boy of a book and wish someone would write one around here to shake things up a bit.