Excellent Women

Excellent WomenExcellent 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. With a sweetness reminiscent of Edith Wharton s gorgeous The Age of Innocence, Excellent Women is proof, not solely of female excellence, but of the overall human goodness Nothing short of miraculous, this novel about a wallflower who knows just how shitty men can often treat their counterparts, how with much ease the ill treatment is endured, is both a c
Aside from a few differences living in the 1950s, being British, not being a teacher, being actively involved in church Mildred Lathbury could easily be me She s in her early 30s, she s unmarried, people keep telling her about their problems and expecting her to fix them, men think she s in love with them just because she s single, and she prefers living by herself because someone else would just mess everything up.And here s another thing that I noti
I ve read this many times and have both a kindle version and a paperback Barbara Pym wrote about ordinary women leading ordinary lives They don t have interesting, exciting jobs or adventures and their personal lives consist of doing flowers for the chu
This review first appeared on my blog Shoulda Coulda Woulda Books.Awhile ago, I asked for recommendations for books that take place in small villages I d just done a re read of Emma and followed that up with An Accomplished Woman, and I was really enjoying the scale of the worlds and the consequent depth of observation that this allowed for which is why I asked for One that came up a couple of times but hadn t made it to the top yet was Excellent Women by Barbara Pym I wish that I had listened to the recommenders and gotten to this sooner, because this is everything I wanted and .Excellent Women focuses on Mildred Lethbury, a thirtyish woman living in London in the early 1950s While this might not sound like it qualifies as a small village book, that would be to confuse the London of today with the London of then As it was in the early 1800s when Emma s Highbury was a village, the various neighborhoods of the city formed small, often self contained, communities of their own within the larger city This was especially true in the bombed out postwar city as people made the most of what they had and tried to put some semblance of a life back together Mildred may have had slightly mobility than the small town ladies of most village novels she went further downtown to work , but this didn t affect her outlook overly much
I am re reading Barbara Pym s books this summer to lift my spirits as I recover from physical injury I find I can only take so much emotional stress before I retreat to her closely observed lives full of the quotidian routines of the women who are the backbone of the Anglican Church Flower arranging, knitting, polishing church brasses, it is all pa
I had such high hopes that I would love this book, and I did, so very much.So many people had said that it was so good, that it was Barbara Pym s best book, and when I realised that it was the story of a spinster, in her thirties in the fifties, my mind went spinning back.Not to the fifties I m not that old but to when my mother took me to church as a very small child We always sat behind a row of elderly ladies, and I spent a long time looking at their backs and hats during dull sermons and lengthy intercessions They always spoke to my mother they had know her since she was a small girl coming to church with her own mother and whenever something was going on, be it a coffee morning or a jumble sale, they were always there and they were always busy.When I was a small girl I thought that they were ancient, but looking back I think most of them would have been in their sixties Years layer my mother used to visit one of those ladies when she was housebound, and I remember my mother telling me that she was always so welcoming and so appreciative Not long after she did her nephew appeared on our doorstep with two carved elephants My mother had mentioned in passing that she remembered her parents having a similar pair, and she had made a note that nother was to have her elephants.I m rambling, but I m going to come to the point now Mildred Lathbury the excellent woman who tells this story was so real, so utterly believable that
I am honestly not sure what to make of this book I initially discovered this book and author through a random crawl, where I assume it was recommended to me based on some of my other highly rated books I vaguely remember reading that Excellent Women was satirical, funny, biting, etc., and there were several comparisons to Jane Austen I don t share the crush that virtually all well educated white girls seem to have for Jane Austen despite being a well educated white girl myself , but I did enjoy Sense and Sensibility well enough for me to take a second look at any author who s compared to Austen The main character of Excellent Women is a single 30 year old woman named Mildred who lives in London in the 1950s This being the 50s, and Mildred being 30 already, she is considered to have entered the spinster stage and is treated very patronizingly by everyone around her, as though she had suddenly gone mad and started collecting vast amounts of cats The plot of the book describes her very provincial and narrow life, which consists of making
I told myself that, after all, life was like that for most of us the small unpleasantness rather than the great tragedies the little useless longings rather than the great renunciations and dramatic love affairs of history or fiction Let me hasten to add that I am not at all like Jane Eyre, who must have given hope to so many plain women who tell their stories in the first person, nor have I ever thought of myself as being like her Love Barbara
Just what I was looking for This is charming, witty and introduced me to the wonderfully observant Mildred Lathbury My first book by Pym, but not my last Find reviews and bookish fun at I fear I may have been a little severe in my assessment of Ms Pym so, as I m sure her legions of fans will be delighted to hear, I sat myself out on the terrace yesterday afternoon and read this one straight through, cover to cover, in 5 hours.Quartet in Autumn was driech dull sad people leading sad dull lives This one was at least subtly humorous, but, weirdly enough, hardly less depressing for a that.The humourIn post WW2 Britain you still have to register with the butcher, and pre Elizabeth David spaghetti is something that requires a lesson in how to twist it round the fork from a serviceman who was posted in Italy so knows about their exotic cuisine Yet our heroine has a copy of Chinese Cookery at her bedside, to send her back to sleep when she is woken in the small hours I thought that was funny Actually, there is an inordinate obsession with food and its embarrassments, unsurprising I suppose as it was still rationed Breakfast, lunch, then tea in the afternoon, with bread and butter, maybe even jam, and always the question of cake is there cake Or not How old is it And then supper not much later, and inviting people in for coffee in the evening With biscuits Or cake If there is any, that is Mostly the humour consists of the kind of smoothly unobtrus

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  • Paperback
  • 272 pages
  • Excellent Women
  • Barbara Pym
  • English
  • 14 October 2017
  • 9780452267305