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July 2011 Guest Editor Alexander McCall Smith on Excellent Women...
Barbara Pym has been described as the Jane Austen of our times, and I would concur with this view. She created a whole world of people living rather mousy lives, illuminated with poignant detail. She is extremely funny in an understated way.
Mildred Lathbury is one of those 'excellent women' who is often taken for granted. She is a godsend, 'capable of dealing with most of the stock situations of life - birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sales, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather'. As such, she often gets herself embroiled in other people's lives - especially those of her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks. One cannot take sides in these matters, though it is tricky, especially as Mildred, teetering on the edge of spinsterhood, has a soft spot for dashing young Rockingham Napier. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest and most touching.
'One of the most endearingly amusing English novels of the twentieth century'
Alexander McCall Smith
'One of the finest examples of high comedy'
Lord David Cecil
'I don't think I've ever before recommended a novel as one that everybody will enjoy and yet - even with a certain assurance - I'm prepared to vouch for EXCELLENT WOMEN'
Marghanita Laski, OBSERVER
'I pick up her books with joy, as though I were meeting an old, dear friend who comforts me, extends my vision and makes me roar with laughter'
Publication date: 03/09/2009
Publisher: Virago Press Ltd an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
|Publication date:||3rd September 2009|
|Publisher:||Virago Press Ltd an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Barbara Pym (1913-80) was born in Shropshire and educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford. When in 1977 the TLS asked critics to name the most underrated authors of the past 75 years, only one was named twice (by Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil): Barbara Pym. Her novels are characterised by what Anne Tyler has called 'the heartbreaking silliness of everyday life'. Fellow novelist Katharine McMahon on Barbara Pym... This choice is in part in memory of my mother, who loved Pym (and Jane Austen) and who shared her with me. Pym has a wicked eye for the small things, ...More About Barbara Pym