Friday, 8 January 2010
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
DATE READ: January 2010
NOTES: Barbara Pym is one of the undiscovered treasures of fiction. She writes with a gentleness and wry humour (usually) about the lives of women who are not the most beautiful or talented or desirable. But nonetheless these women have charms of their own – especially in their observation of the behaviour and dalliances of others.
Mildred is an unmarried woman in her thirties who thinks that the chances of marriage are slipping away from her. Things are not helped by the fact that all the men in her life are such clots! There are some nice observations of the male “helpers” at the church jumble sale who leave all the work to the women but are first in line for tea and cakes…. She is also puzzled by the fact that the married women she comes across are physically attractive but hopeless at most everyday skills.
Excellent Women was published in 1952 and very much reflects Britain of the time – such as the need to share a bathroom with fellow tenants.
Barbara Pym became rather unfashionable in the 1960s but it is good to see all her books reissued.