The Sweet Dove Died

The Sweet Dove Died

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

Pym observed the intricate rituals of English life with a sharp but understanding eye. In THE SWEET DOVE DIED, Pym uncovers the sometimes troubling truths behind relationships. A chance encounter over a Victorian flower book brings together Humphrey, and antiques dealer, his nephew James, and Leonora. Although she is considerably older, Leonora develops a fondness for James all the while knowing Humphrey has feelings for her. Leonora is determined to keep James under her spell until she realizes that she has to contend with the bookish Phoebe. Then Ned, a wicked young American, appears on the scene.
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Excellent Women

Excellent Women

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

Excellent Women is one of Barbara Pym's richest and most amusing high comedies. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman's daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those "excellent women," the smart, supportive, repressed women who men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors--anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door--the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.
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No Fond Return of Love

No Fond Return of Love

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

Dulcie Mainwaring, the heroine of the book, is one of those excellent women who is always helping others and never looking out for herself- especially in the realms of love. The novel has a delicate tangle of schemes and unfulfilled dreams, hidden secrets and a castle or two. Told wonderfully in the deadpan honesty that has become a Pym hallmark, this book is a delight.
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Quartet in Autumn

Quartet in Autumn

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

This is Pym's poignant story of four elderly single people who work in the same office. Their work is their chief point of contact with each other and with the outside world. When the two women retire, the equilibrium of the quartet is upset. Quartet in Autumn is a gently compelling story of human dignity in the midst of hopelessness.
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Jane and Prudence

Jane and Prudence

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

If Jane Cleveland and Prudence Bates seem an unlikely pair to be walking together at an Oxford reunion, neither of them are aware of it. They couldn't be more different: Jane is a rather incompetent vicar's wife, who always looks as if she is about to feed the chickens, while Prudence, a pristine hothouse flower, has the most unsuitable affairs. With the move to a rural parish, Jane is determined to find her friend the perfect man. She learns, that matchmaking has as many pitfalls as housewifery...
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Some Tame Gazelle

Some Tame Gazelle

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

Barbara Pym is a master at capturing the subtle mayhem that takes place in the apparent quiet of the English countryside. Fifty-something sisters Harriet and Belinda Bede live a comfortable, settled existence. Belinda, the quieter of the pair, has for years been secretly in love with the town's pompous (and married) archdeacon, whose odd sermons leave members of his flock in muddled confusion. Harriet, meanwhile, a bubbly extrovert, fends off proposal after proposal of marriage. The arrival of Mr. Mold and Bishop Grote disturb the peace of the village and leave the sisters wondering if they'll ever return to the order of their daily routines. Some Tame Gazelle, first published in Britain nearly 50 years ago, was the first of Pym's nine novels.
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A Glass of Blessings

A Glass of Blessings

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

Well dressed and looked after, Wilmet is married to Rodney, a handsome army Major, working nine thirty to six at the Ministry. Wilmet's interest wanders to the nearby Anglo-Catholic church, where at last she can neglect her comfortable household in the company of three priests and engaging Piers Longridge who happens to be living with another man. Her limited life has its fragile "blessings."
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Less Than Angels

Less Than Angels

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

It is surely appropriate that anthropologists, who spend their time studying life and behavior in various societies, should be studied in their turn," says Barbara Pym. In a wonderful twist on her subjects, she has written a book inspecting the behavior of a group of anthropologists. She pits them against each other in affairs of the heart and mind.Academia is an especially rich backdrop. There is competition between the sexes, gender, and age groups. With Pym's keen eye for male pretensions and female susceptibilities, she exploits with good humor. Love will have its way even among the learned, one of whom is in a quandary between an adult and a young student. This is the world of research, grants, libraries and primitive cultures. Here is a particularly interesting contrast between the tribes of Africa and the social matrix of London. As the title implies, civilized society fares not too well on moral grounds to the more primitive societies. Barbara Pym does a masterful job with the mores of the cloistered society of academia.
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An Unsuitable Attachment

An Unsuitable Attachment

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

The wonderful thing about Barbara Pym is her ability to take believable characters and have them do such queer things in such a delightful way. Her legacy of seeing slightly askew gave John Updike, Anita Brookner and a whole raft of writers the courage to carry on. An Unsuitable Attachment is set in a parish outside of London. There the novel's "unattached" characters work out a confusing web of matchmaking and forming attachments. A new eligible bachelor in the neighborhood, Rupert Stonebird, finds himself choosing between two very different women. Sophie, the wife of the Vicar of St. Basil, becomes determined to match her sister Penelope with Rubert, a plan that would seem to work well until a graceful and quite suitable Iantha Broome also becomes a member of the community. As Rupert grapples with courting either Penelope or Iantha, Iantha finds herself with two more suitors. This elegant novel will keep readers enthralled as unsuitable and suitable attachments unfold An Unsuitable Attachment is such a book.
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A Few Green Leaves

A Few Green Leaves

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

In A FEW GREEN LEAVES the author combines the rural settings of her earliest novels with many of the themes- and even some of the characters- of her later ones. Switching points of view among many characters, she builds with accumulating effect the picture of life in a town forgotten by time yet affected dramatically by it. Historical time- represented by Druid ruins, the local eighteenth-century country manor, and the last aristocrats who occupied it in the 1920s- is juxtaposed against the banalities of life in today's world.
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A Very Private Eye

A Very Private Eye

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

'Could one write a book based on one's diaries over thirty years? I certainly have enough material,' wrote Barbara Pym. This book, selected from the diaries, notebooks and letters of this much loved novelist to form a continuous narrative, is indeed a unique autobiography, providing a privileged insight into a writer's mind. Philip Larkin wrote that Barbara Pym had 'a unique eye and ear for the small poignancies of everyday life'. Her autobiography amply demonstrates this, as it traces her life from exuberant times at Oxford in the thirties, through the war when, scarred by an unhappy love affair, she joined the WRNS, to the published novelist of the fifties. It also deals with the long period when her novels were out of fashion and no one would publish them, her rediscovering in 1977, and the triumphant success of her last few years. It is now possible to describe a place, situation or person as 'very Barbara Pym'. A Very Private Eye, at once funny and moving, shows the variety...
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Civil to Strangers

Civil to Strangers

Barbara Pym

Humor / Literature & Fiction / Women & Gender Studies

When Barbara Pym died in 1980 she left a considerable amount of unpublished material. This volume contains an early novel, CIVIL TO STRANGERS, three novellas and an autobiographical essay, 'Finding a Voice', Pym's only written commentary on her writing career.In CIVIL TO STRANGERS the lives of a young couple, Cassandra Marsh-Gibbon and her self-absorbed writer husband Adam, are thrown into upheaval when a mysterious Hungarian arrives in their village.
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