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Barbara Pym

February 22, 2012

To add insult to injury, I have gotten a cold, the kind that makes it difficult to do much of anything, so I am back on the couch. The bright side is that this is good for the hamstring. But what a ridiculous winter this has been. My solace has been Barbara Pym. I never recommend her to anyone, as she is such a peculiar taste. The books are all set in post war England, complete with curates and jumble sales. But they are so beautifully done. Here is an example from Excellent Women, where Mildred and her friend, Mrs. Bonner, venture into a “self-service cafeteria.”

“Our trays rattled along on a moving belt at a terrifying speed, so that at the end of it all I found myself, bewildered and resentful, holding a tray full of things I would never have chosen had I had time to think about it, and without a saucer for coffee. Mrs. Bonner, who always came to such places, had done much better and began explaining to me where I had gone wrong. ‘You get the saucer after you’ve taken a roll, if you have one. I generally don’t as we are told not to waste bread, and before you get the hot dish,’ she said, as we stood with our trays looking for two vacant places.”

I love that the belt is “terrifying” and that Mildred is “bewildered and resentful.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ruth permalink
    February 28, 2012 8:09 am

    I love Barbara Pym, but you are correct, she is specialized taste. I also adore Miss Read, Angela Thirkell, E.M. Delafield and E.F. Benson. Happy recovery!

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