Tuesday, 27 December 2011

REVIEW:- Barbara PYM - “Excellent Women“

Year Published: - 1952
Where the book was from:- My own copy
ISBN: - 978-1-84408-451-7
Pages: - 288pp
Genre: - Humour
Location:- England
How I came across it: - As part of challenge to read a book from each year of my life
Rating: - ***** ***

One sentence summary:- Hilarious, silly and endearing novel of a clergyman’s daughter’s attempts to involve herself with her neighbours (or not involve herself as the case may be).

Describe the plot without giving anything away:- Mildred Lathbury – the sort of capable woman who tends to be taken for granted, gets hopelessly involved with her neighbours, the glamorous Napiers, especially as she has more than a soft spot for Rockingham Napier.

General comments:- Barbara Pym has been described as the most under-rated novelist / humourist of the 20th century.

I suppose an unmarried woman just over thirty, who lives alone and has no apparent ties, must expect to find herself involved or interested in other people’s business, and if she is also a clergyman’s daughter then one might really say there is no hope for her.

“I have to share a bathroom,” I had so often murmured, almost with shame, as if I personally had been found unworthy of a bathroom of my own.

“Rockingham does most of the cooking when we’re together,” she said, “I’m really too busy to do much.” Surely wives shouldn’t be too busy to cook for their husbands, I thought in astonishment.

“A little learning can be a dangerous thing, Mildred.” “Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring,” I went on, pleased at being able to finish the quotation.

“Anyway, widows nearly always do marry.” “Oh, they have the knack of catching a man. Having done it once I suppose they can do it again. I suppose there’s nothing in it when you know how.”

…but I felt I wanted to be alone, and what better place to choose than the sink, where neither of the men would follow me?

…it occurred to me that if I ever wrote a novel it would be of the ‘stream of consciousness’ type and deal with an hour in the life of a woman at the sink.

There can be no exchange of glances over the telephone, no breaking into laughter. After a few more insincere regrets and apologies we finished and I hung up the receiver, thinking that the telephone ought never to be used except for the transaction of business.

AUTHOR Notes:- (1913-1980) Barbara Mary Crampton Pym (1913 –1980) was an English novelist. In 1977 her career was revived when two prominent writers, Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin, nominated her as the most under-rated writer of the century when the Times Literary Supplement asked authors/critics to name the most underrated authors of the past 75 years. She was the only asuthor nominated twice. Her novel ‘Quartet in Autumn’ (1977) was nominated for the Booker Prize that year, and she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello folks - your comments are always welcome.