1. 2. & 3. Excellent Women, Jane and Prudence, Some Tame Gazelle, Barbara Pym

22 Jan

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I got the flu a few weeks ago and started what may be an ongoing Barbara Pym bender. Here’s a bit of verse a la Pym (she’s quoting, of course):

Some tame gazelle
Some gentle dove
Something to love!
Oh, something to love!

Ha ha ha. These 1950sish novels of English country manners are the perfect romantic comedies, made perfectly perfect by their unsentimental outlook on romance. Love, in a Pym book is usually foolish, unrequited or faintly ridiculous, yet deserves sympathy. Marriage is portrayed on about an even footing with spinsterhood. Both have their advantages and both are boring and lonely in their own way. The books are utterly hilarious, economical, line-by-line gems in which nothing much happens. If they end with a wedding, it won’t be the wedding the reader expected. The cleanliness of the prose and the pragmatism of the narrative outlook are simply a joy.

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