idea of stewardship even when it makesnliberal use of the word. In ascribingnsuch vast powers to the bare possessionnof money, it paradoxically takes from itnone characteristic that is crucial to ournunderstanding: its power to do good asnwe use it responsibly. In repudiating thenmad pursuit of wealth, Ellul offers nonplausible alternative. ccnHerbert Schlossberg is the author ofnIdols for Destruction (Thomas NelsonnPublishers).nCrumpets andnCrotchetsnby Dennis R. PerrynMiss Read: Affairs at Thrush Green;nHoughton Mifflin; Boston.nThe reader knows from the outset ofnMiss Read’s 30th anachronistic novel ofnvillage gossip that the “affairs” atnThrush Green are not of the illicitnvariety. This latest amble into the notso-livelynlives of the middle-aged peoplenlast encountered in Read’s Gossip PromnThrush Green (1981) presents a worldndominated by old-fashioned simplicitynand innocence. In a world drawn withnthe aid of lilac-colored glasses, wherencrankiness and pettiness are the majornfoibles, many of the characters in thennovel suggest the life and originality ofnthe gift-book illustrations that decoratenits pages. But granting the book thesenmostly intentional and traditionallyncomic limitations, her fans will encounterndelightfully familiar charactersnwhose uneventful lives are sketchednwith enough wit and insight to leaventhem breathless for the latest gossip.nThe book’s moral center is the humblenand kindly Reverend Charles Henstocknand his wife Dimity, who havenrecently replaced the Anthony Bulls asnstewards of the four neighboring parishesnthat include Thrush Green. Thenpreoccupations and predicaments ofnCharles’s parishioners are various. EllanBembridge, former housemate of DimitynHenstock, devotes herself toncigarette-rolling and local gossip. Thenschool marms, Misses Fogerty and Watson,ndream of a beach retirement butnare frustrated by their indispensabilitynto the school. The rich and bossynwidow, Mrs. Thurgood, fights withnCharles over the repairing of thenchurch’s worn kneelers (the book’snmajor crisis). Kit Armitage, a recentlynretired military man and former villagenheartthrob, returns to rekindle an oldnflame and spark a new one. And AlbertnPiggott, the crotchety sexton, so spendsnhimself in complaints that he drives hisnwife Nellie to another man. The lives ofnseveral minor characters are also illuminednthrough harmless town gossip ornare helped by Charles in one waynor another to regain their humanity,nhumility, or faith. For the most part,nall of these characters are predictablentypes who say very little that is unexpected.nTheir epiphanies are basednon cliches and their “development” bynRead stumbles along a thin line betweenna genuine warmth and a slightlyntattered sentimentality.nWhat preserves the book’s measure ofngenuine warmth is its often unexpectednsubtlety, evident in both its understatednprose and sly wit. On one occasion,nduring a conversation with Mrs. Thurgoodnand her daughter, the oldfashionednHenstock has a run-in withnwomen’s liberation:n”I don’t intend to discuss thenmatter now in this holy place,”nCharles pointed out, “but if younand Miss Thurgood—“n”Mizz,” broke in Janet. “Inprefer to be known as Mizz,nspelled M and S.”n”I beg your pardon?”n”Capital M, small S,”nexplained Janet.n”Oh!” said the rector, nownenlightened, “liken’manuscript’.”n”Not in the least liken’manuscript’,” exclaimed Mrs.nThurgood. “But to get back tonthe point.”nRead’s subtlety allows her to sum up anminor crisis in a few well-chosen details,nsuch as the number of times annervous caller lets the phone ring.nThe reader might be tempted to comparensmall-town life at Thrush Green tonthat at Grover’s Corners. Like Wilder,nRead presents the everyday events andnconversation that make up an averagenlife. Unlike Wilder, Read is unable ornunwilling to give these experiences anmeaning beyond themselves. Lacking anWilder’s aesthetic distance, Read’s authorialnvoice seems too close to thencharacters she creates, too sympatheticnto a point of view perhaps better experiencednat the tea table than in a novel.nccnDennis R. Perry is a doctoralncandidate in American literature atnthe University of Wisconsin.nPOETRY IQURNALnPlains Poetry Journal is like North Dakota: a well-kept secret. Traditionalnpoetic conventions forged into vigorous, compelling new poetry. We’renwhat you despaired of finding! Sample for $3.50; heartening manifesto fornSASE. Plains Poetry Journal, P.O. Box 2337, Bismarck, ND 58502.nnnJANUARY 1986 / 33n