Sunday, June 02, 2013

Barbara Pym's Century

Barbara Pym with her cat Minerva

Today, June 2nd, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of English novelist Barbara Pym.  I think if I were pressed to name one favorite author, she would probably be my choice.  I've read all her books multiple times and loved each and every one.  So, in honor of her 100th, I've decided to reread a few of my favorites, starting with the first one published, Some Tame Gazelle.  In case you aren't familiar with her work, here's a little taste -- the opening paragraph of "Gazelle":
The new curate seemed quite a nice young man, but what a pity it was that his combinations showed, tucked carelessly into his socks, when he sat down.  Belinda had noticed it when they had met him for the first time at the vicarage last week and had felt quite embarrassed.  Perhaps Harriet could say something to him about it.  Her blunt jolly manner could carry off these little awkwardnesses much better than Belinda's timidity.  Of course he might think it none of their business, as indeed it was not, but Belinda rather doubted whether he thought at all, if one were to judge by the quality of his first sermon.
Barbara Pym died in 1980. She was 66 and had published nine novels; four more were published posthumously in the years after her death.  Not a huge body of work, but a wonderfully rich one.  If you haven't read any of her books, you really should give them a try.

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