#12booksof2021 #10thbookof2021 #October
Barbara Pym was one of those writers I've known of forever but never got around to reading. That changed this year with some encouragement from @Centique @LeahBergen @Cathythoughts and @Ruthiella I loved this book and its sort of sequel Less Than Angels.
Excellent book. I'm tempted to leave it there, but I need to add what a delight the whole thing was and how much I liked Mildred. I'm absolutely a convert to Pym and I will definitely be reading more.
"...if I ever wrote a novel it would be of the stream-of-consciousness type and deal with an hour in the life of a woman at the sink"
I didn't know the idea of "kitchen sink" as a style came from Barbara Pym, I thought. I looked it up and it's attributed to a male art critic in 1954, no mention of Pym who published this book in 1952. ?
Post war London and Mildred, at the centre of the local church, is living a quiet life until a couple move into the flat below hers and cause ripples in her otherwise ordinary life. A gentle and comic novel which was a joyful read and a perfect introduction to a writer who I have not tried before but will definitely read again.
"Do we need tea ?" She echoed....
It was the kind of question that starts a landside in the mind.
My first Barbara pym for my reading group and this quote probably sums up the joy I am getting today from this gentle but very satisfying read like a cup of tea .
#CuriousCovers Day 14- These are two editions of one of my favourite books by one of my favourite authors.
The edition on the left is a Folio Society edition that I found second hand for a dollar at a thrift store. The book has beautiful colour plates but it also has a coffee ring stain on the front cover 😱😱😱. The #woman in red on the cover is Mildred Lathbury, the book‘s narrator & one of the excellent women referred to in the title.
I have never read Barbara Pym! (How did I miss her?)
Which one should I start with?
This was a great book to bring me back to immersive reading. It‘s next week‘s bookclub choice and I‘m leading discussion. Lots of great passages and plenty to talk about. I think the ladies will have lots to say😉
IRL bookclub up next! Glad it‘s on the shorter side as my #VacationBrain is still lingering. To all you Littens who manage family obligations, responsibilities, career and other real life distractions and STILL manage to find time to read, I‘m fully impressed and totally humbled. Man, It‘s SO hard to FOCUS & separate. I just couldn‘t distance myself or quiet my brain from everything going on around me.
“Now, Julian, we don‘t want a sermon,” said Winifred. “You know Mildred would never do anything wrong or foolish.”
I reflected a little sadly that this was only too true and hoped I did not appear too much that kind of person to others. Virtue is an excellent thing and we should all strive after it, but it can sometimes be a little depressing.
Loving this book so far! ☺️
I very much liked this post-WWII mild-mannered comedy. Pym is insightful and kind about “excellent women,” those single persons who both defend & endure the repressions & expectations of their British society. Mildred is wonderfully dead-pan in her remarks & observations. The story advances at a stately pace, but I so enjoyed the company of Mildred Lathbury and her take on her friends that I felt no impatience about the plot‘s pacing. Lovely book.
Do we really NEED a cup of tea ? I even said as much to Miss Stratham and she looked at me with a hurt , almost angry look, ‘ Do we NEED tea? ‘ she echoed. ‘ But Miss Lathbury........ ‘ She sounded puzzled and distressed and I began to realise that my question had struck at something deep and fundamental. It was the kind of question that starts a landslide in the mind.
5 ⭐️ More Barbara Pym for me.
I started this last night ! I think it‘s my first Pym & won‘t be my last. I‘ll be going on a little Pym buying spree later this morning.... 🥳🧡
May #doublespin done! @TheAromaofBooks
This was only on my radar because of Litsy posts, but I'm so glad it was and that I found a copy. A delightful comedy of manners, it was exactly the type of book I'm in the mood for right now. I can't believe it isn't a BBC tv miniseries... hopefully someone will fix that cause I want to watch it. This was my first Pym, but I'll be on the lookout now for the rest of her books.
#7Days7Books Day Seven
I‘ll finish off this week with the book that started my love of the so-called “Middlebrow” novel (ie; primarily British domestic fiction, written by women in the first half of the 20th century). It changed what I have chosen to read and collect over the last twenty years. 🙂
Thanks for tagging me, @BarbaraBB !
🎧Letting all my fellow Pym fans know that April 13th Backlisted Podcast will be discussing Excellent Women! I‘ve really been enjoying the discussions on the podcast. I went back to listen to the Miss Buncle‘s Book and Elizabeth Taylor episodes today. It‘s such a soothing, educational, entertaining, and wonderfully bookish podcast. Anyone else a fan?
Enjoyed this humorous novel written in the 1950s about Mildred, an unmarried woman in her 30s, and her relationship with the people in her London neighborhood and church. Mildred belongs to the class of “excellent women” who seem to exist solely to assist the helpless men in their lives. A portrait of post war England, the novel examines a rapidly changing society in a light-hearted way through the eyes of Mildred. #classics #litsyclassics
This book doesn‘t have much plot, simply relating the observations and reflections of the main character. Usually that‘s a style that never feels like it gets anywhere and kind of bores me, but I truly enjoyed this one. I liked the humor and the perspective of the narrator, an unmarried English woman in the 1950s. Yes, her life is simple and sometimes she daydreams of other situations, but she is also generally content.
Whats everybody reading today?
I'm rally becomink quite the Entwhissle fan! I said. Sereeeenlee. All thohz bright, brisk, consonants, and draawn ouuuut vowelles! I theenk. She's entahhly syuitable, for reeeding any sawt of British lit'ratyoure!
I became acquainted with this reader via the Flavia de Luce series. #audiobooks #narrators #anglophilesoflitsy
My 4th read of this book is a listen. Reader Jane Entwhistle has a gift for making overt wit and even subtext twinkle with glee. And Pym is the queen of subtext. #pymphomania #pym #barbarapym #humor #anglophilesoflitsy #audiobook #libby
My first Pym novel. Mildred Lathbury, 30, is an “excellent woman” devoted to good works and church, and a “spinster.” An otherwise ordinary life gets thrown some curveballs when the Napiers, with handsome Rocky and his wife the anthropologist Helena, move in downstairs. Then, minister and friend Julian Malory unexpectedly gets engaged to a young widow. Delightful humorous writing! https://cannonballread.com/2019/03/excellent-women-elcicco/
It‘s pretty rare that a book makes me laugh out loud #hohoho but this one did. About a single woman navigating life in 1950s London - Mildred is one of those “excellent women” who can be counted on to make tea, man booths at church bazaars and generally sacrifice themselves and their time for others since clearly they have nothing better to do since they have no husband or children to care for... Pym‘s humor is subtle and wry. #SeasonsReadings
I don‘t think I knew satire could be so sweet and endearing. Mildred is a single woman of a certain age living in post WW2 England. She is such a help in her community, at church and in the neighbourhood, and being ‘sensible‘ and an ‘excellent woman‘ she is rather put upon by a cast of less sensible characters. Which makes her a little bit cross sometimes. 😂 I feel ya Mildred, I really do. 💕 Best tea and cake book too.
Never underestimate the importance of tea!
I found 2 pristine Folio Society editions in 2 different shops- To Kill A Mockingbird and Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. I am enjoying reading women writers of the last century. I mentioned Pym, and my friend mentioned Larsen just this am. And voila! They both appeared for me-bookish magic. And then I am pondering my trips for next year, and trying to decide on Morocco or Buenos Aires. If you have any preference or tips, please let me know.
Life with a kitten. 😭😭😭 We have to keep Cooper in our spare room, which just so happens to be my reading room, so I‘ve temporarily lost my peaceful reading spot and my books are apparently now food. And unfortunately this copy of Excellent Women is my mother in law‘s, so now I‘m on the hunt for this exact edition to replace for her. It‘s a good thing the kitten is cute and I love the shit out of him. #psheylitsy!
#IWonder if Mildred ever found true love or the confidence to finally stand up for herself. The beauty of this book is the genuine portrayal of flawed characters that don‘t necessarily have a neat ending tied up in a bow.
No I didn't buy any books today 🙈🙈🙈
Why have I resisted Pym all these years? I was in need of something inconsequential and funny this week and she hit the mark perfectly. The sense of a narrator blithely unaware of her impact, of failing to see her power or potential, is a delight. It's a tiny world, a tiny small tale but an absolute gem. I need to read more Pym.
The story is told by an unmarried “excellent” woman who seems to be at every one else‘s disposal because she isn‘t married. It was written in the 50s, set in London. I came to quite like Mildred. She gets somehow stuck in the middle of everyone else‘s drama and seems to be the one always getting the tea or helping out with the little details. Still, you can‘t help but root that people will take her seriously. Oh, and I really loved the ending!
I didn‘t get as many books read this month - too much fun in the sun going on, so that‘s ok.
The Lambs definitely wrapped around my heart and was my favorite this month.
This reads so much like a Persephone book, so I was shocked when I saw that the founder of Persephone said she has been asked why she hasn‘t published Pym, and that her reason is that she just doesn‘t care for her books. That being said, there were parts of this book that just weren‘t as enjoyable to me. I loved Mildred‘s Birdseye view of the romantic relationships of her acquaintances. I didn‘t love her own lack of self reflection.
Just got to the lake house and am grabbing a few pages while the little ones bike. 😍😍
I don‘t consider it breaking my book buying ban when the book in question is for book club. Amirite? I was so excited when @emilyhaldi chose this for our IRL book club because I‘ve been needing an excuse to buy it. I adore the #viragomodernclassicsdesigner. This is my first one and I need to collect them all now. 😂 There‘s something to be said about a beautiful hardcover that doesn‘t have a dust jacket!! #bookdepository #bookhaul