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Quartet in Autumn
Quartet in Autumn: Picador Classic | Barbara Pym
With an introduction by Alexander McCall Smith One did not drink sherry before the evening, just as one did not read a novel in the morning. In 1970s London Edwin, Norman, Letty and Marcia work in the same office and suffer the same problem - loneliness. Lovingly and with delightful humour, Pym conducts us through their day-to-day existence: their preoccupations, their irritations, their judgements, and - perhaps most keenly felt - their worries about having somehow missed out on life as post-war Britain shifted around them. Deliciously, blackly funny and full of obstinate optimism, Quartet in Autumn shows Barbara Pym's sensitive artistry at its most sparkling. A classic from one of Britain's most loved and highly acclaimed novelists, its world is both extraordinary and familiar, revealing the eccentricities of everyday life.
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No photo as I forgot. I DNF this last summer but raced through it this time. Sad, poignant and sometimes laugh out loud funny.

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#screamathonphotochallenge #autumnleaves

One of the really good #1001books I have read. A quiet, beautiful story. 🧡

kspenmoll My mother loved her work & so introduced me to her.❤️ (edited) 4mo
Aimeesue I‘m a Pymphomaniac. 😁 4mo
BarbaraBB Good to know, I still need to read this one 4mo
arubabookwoman My favorite Pym, though I find it darker than her other books I‘ve read. I‘ve read it 3 times, once in my early 30‘s, once in my late 40‘s, and in my early 60‘s. It meant something different each time. 4mo
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A very quiet read, sometimes sad and often witty. Beautifully written, and the characters are all so different and well-developed. My first Pym, but I definitely plan to read more.



HKGirl I've only read one Pym so far as well--Excellent Women. And I feel like your description here would be perfect for that too! 1y
sprainedbrain @HKGirl that one is on my list to read! 1y
vivastory You are killing the #1001 list! As a fellow 1001 traveler, I'd really like to to see you post a best of the year from that list. 1y
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sprainedbrain @vivastory I think I will do that at the end of the year! One of my reading resolutions for 2018 was to read at last 25 #1001books and I think I have definitely surpassed that. 😃 1y
sprainedbrain @vivastory you should do it, too! 1y
vivastory I definitely will! Although, it will be really difficult narrowing it down. It seems like 80% of the books I've read from the list I've given 5 stars. I think I can narrow it down to a top 10, I think I read 40 from the list this year. 1y
sprainedbrain @vivastory It will be hard to narrow them down... of those that I‘ve read, I can definitely say that most are on the list for good reason. 1y
vivastory How do you decide what to read? Do you select randomly, or are they ones that sound appealing? 1y
sprainedbrain @vivastory I do several reading challenges every year, and when I‘m picking books to fit the prompts, I choose from the list whenever I can. I have a goodreads shelf with all of the 1001 that I haven‘t read, so it‘s easier to find one that fits a challenge. I also love the goodreads group, and earlier this year I was doing pretty good at keeping up with the books the group chose to read every month. I haven‘t been great about that lately, though. 1y
sprainedbrain @vivastory I also just look through the book sometimes and pick out one that sounds appealing. I have the 2010 version though, so not sure it‘s the most up to date. How do you choose? 1y
vivastory I was in the book swap, it's winding down now though. We're on the final book. Earlier this year I went through the book & wrote down a lot of titles I wanted to try. I still have quite a few of them to read & I occasionally will randomly select a title. I'm currently reading The Two Towers & am loving it. I read Fellowship of the Ring last year & for some reason really struggled with it, but I decided to finish LOTR before the end of the year. 1y
vivastory I forgot about the Goodreads group. I should look into that. 1y
sprainedbrain I‘m in the swap, too... I‘m finishing up the last book this week to send back to @tstan 😃 Everyone in our group sent two books so that has helped! 1y
Tamra Sounds like maybe I might like this - stacked. 1y
sprainedbrain @vivastory also, I love LOTR! The Tolkien were some of the books I had already read from the list when I started. I did the chapter-a-day readalong last year though and reread them. The series definitely get better in books 2 and 3. 1y
sprainedbrain @Tamra I hope you enjoy it! 1y
Liz_M Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this read! ☺ 1y
sprainedbrain @Liz_M I‘m so glad you recommended it to me! Thank you 😊 1y
arubabookwoman This is my favorite Pym but I think it is very different from the other books I've read by her. The characters and circumstances are similar, but they are much less dark. I've read Quartet 3 times--in my early 30's, mid-40's, and 60's, and it meant something different each time. 1y
Joyfulmimi I just opened this book and read the first page. I know I am gonna love it @sprainedbrain @arubabookwoman @Liz_M 5mo
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saresmoore Here, she describes my ideal novel. 1y
LeahBergen That sounds like most of Pym‘s novels. 👏🏻👏🏻 1y
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Day 19 - #autumnal #31bookpics

Story about people who work together in an office and they are getting ready to retire. It was a little sad in some parts but it did end on a good note. The characters are unique and very interesting and I found Pym to be very insightful. I enjoyed her writing very much and I look forward to reading some of her other books. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classic literature with subtle humor.

jillrhudy It‘s in the database, the book 1y
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LeahBergen Snort! 😂 1y
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saresmoore I‘m reading this, too! 1y
shawnmooney @saresmoore Great! How are you finding it? I‘m finding it quite dark compared to her earlier novels, but shall withhold judgment until I finish. :-) (edited) 1y
saresmoore I‘m terrible at withholding judgment! It seems dark to me, too, and I‘m getting hints of bitterness. I‘m enjoying it and reading it closely, very intrigued by the quirky characters. 1y
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Might start this today...

LeahBergen It‘s always a good day for Pym. 1y
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This modern classic is perfect for #autumn—not just in reference to the season of the year, but to the season of life. As ever, Pym‘s reflections are astute and her wit is sharp in this poignant tale of four lonely coworkers on the eve of retirement. I‘m reading this now and savoring it, as one does.


LeahBergen Waiting for me on my Pym shelf! (and the other books peeking out of this photo? 😍😍) 1y
saresmoore @LeahBergen All the lovely & old books that tempt me away from my current reads! I decided that the fireplace mantle really couldn‘t have a better purpose to fulfill in its life than as a display for pretty books. 1y
LeahBergen It can now die a very happy mantelpiece. 😂 1y
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saresmoore @LeahBergen I just hope it‘s not a premature death by fire! 🔥😯 1y
Moray_Reads Could I see the Wuthering Heights cover? It is Wuthering Heights? 1y
saresmoore @Moray_Reads Yes! It‘s one that @batsy gave me! I‘ll tag you in the post of all its glory. 1y
batsy It sounds lovely. Following in Shawn's footsteps I made a grand plan to read Pym in publication order & thus far have made no progress 🙈 (And I can't get over your amazing edition of Colette 😍) 1y
erzascarletbookgasm I have this waiting for me. It‘s all #blameitonlitsy . Before Litsy, I do not know this author. Or Mitford. Or Colette. 1y
erzascarletbookgasm Oh, have you heard that Keira Knightley is portraying her in the new film? https://www.bustle.com/p/keira-knightleys-new-movie-colette-finally-gives-a-late... 1y
arubabookwoman My favorite Pym, and I find it quite different from the others I‘ve read by her. I‘ve read it three times, first in my early 30‘s and most recently in my mid-60‘s. It said different things to me each time. 1y
saresmoore @arubabookwoman I love it when that happens. I can see why Quartet in Autumn is that kind of book. 1y
saresmoore @erzascarletbookgasm I love Litsy for that! And I hadn‘t heard about the film—that‘s so exciting! 1y
kgriffith I‘ve never even heard of this author. Talk to me about her work? Where would you recommend someone new to her start? 1y
saresmoore @kgriffith She wrote what are, superficially, social comedies, mostly in the 1950‘s, set in England. But under the surface the dialogue and commentary is deeply ironic. Her books seem cozy, but in sort of a snarky way. The humor is very subtle and this book, in particular, is more poignant for its theme of loneliness. I think A Glass of Blessings or Excellent Women would give you a good taste. 1y
rubyslippersreads I ❤️ everything about this photo! 1y
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Was reading Les Mis and keeping up with the news, but the patriarchy that is our reality AND Victor Hugo‘s subtle misogyny got to be too much for me. Moving on to a beautiful, comforting book written by a woman and a generous glass of wine.

Real question: How are there any female Republicans anymore? Why?!

VioletBramble Maybe they're holding out hope that they can crack open the old white boy network that is the Republican Party. Maybe they're complicit with the patriarchy and believe that women are less than men. The party is loosing women in massive numbers. The women I know who are Republicans are so because of one issue --abortion rights. 1y
saresmoore @VioletBramble That‘s an excellent point. And it illustrates why the two-party system is absurd. 1y
Leftcoastzen The hearing is still going on, total 💩show! 1y
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Leftcoastzen She was credible and poised, he‘s a belligerent etc etc. 1y
saresmoore @Leftcoastzen UGH. It‘s appalling! 1y
Owlizabeth I had to take several breaks, I think Lindsay Graham‘s meltdown was appalling. 1y
LeslieO Pym! 1y
Christine Wise choice! And yes, @Owlizabeth - immeasurably depressing that white male tantrums are now effective political strategy! 1y
Hollie I have no idea how there are female republicans. I‘ve been so angry all day long. 1y
saresmoore @Owlizabeth @Christine The double standards run rampant. It is infuriating. 1y
saresmoore @LeslieO She is wonderful! 1y
saresmoore @Hollie It‘s viscerally upsetting. I don‘t even know how to deal. 1y
AlaMich CBF was incredible!! And it won‘t make one frigging bit of difference. 1y
Cathythoughts Gorgeous pic & the book sounds interesting... stacked 1y
saresmoore @AlaMich You could insert any number of brave, intelligent, resilient, and eloquent women‘s names in that spot and the rest would remain true. I‘m not so proud to be an American, these days. 1y
saguarosally I need to find some Republican women and ask. The reasons are likely diverse. 1y
Suet624 Good question. Republicans should be embarrassed. Every dang one of them. 1y
saresmoore @Suet624 They SHOULD be! Last week, Bryan said, “I‘m so, so glad we don‘t talk to my parents anymore.” They‘re the ones who told him he needed to do a better job managing his wife and they were offended by the level of input I had in our mutual life decisions. Also the ones who called in 2007, filled with anxiety, bc they were “worried Sara might vote for Obama” and wanted to make sure Bryan talked some sense into me. 🙄 1y
Suet624 Good Lord. Unbelievable. 1y
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Had (c8 of Waterstones discount. Spent it.

rubyslippersreads Lovely! 😍 1y
Magslhalliday @rubyslippersreads I need some sly comedies of manners to relax right now. After Excellent Women last week I went back and bought all the other titles in stock. ;) 1y
LeahBergen 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 1y
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The quartet is composed of four aging clerks that share an office: Edwin, Letty, Marcia, and Norman. It begins shortly before the Letty and Marcia are asked to retire, showing first the routine of their lives and the changes retirement brings. Pym depicts their shabby and disconnected lives and how, despite best efforts, easy it is to fall through the social/safety net for some and how others adapt to change. The writing is economical and solid.

arubabookwoman I read this in my 30‘s, late 40‘s, and 60‘s. It meant something different to me each time, and it is much different from her other books. I am currently rereading Excellent Women because it was published in 1952, and as I am culling my books I think Quartet will be the only one I keep. 2y
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‘Quartet in Autumn‘ is one of Pym‘s more memorable novels because of its theme of growing old & the loneliness & isolation that can occur with ageing. But what makes this heavy theme bearable is Pym‘s incredible ability to add humour & lightness to even the most bleak of topics. I found this novel intelligent, moving & incredibly relevant with our social & political issues we face today.

My full review is on the blog (link in comments).

BarbaraBB Sounds great! 2y
catebutler @BarbaraBB It was a great read! If you pick it up, let me know what you think. 2y
EvieBee Lovely photo and review. Can‘t wait to read this one. 2y
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It‘s been a blustery day today, high winds screaming through the eaves, and curtains flapping with each gust. This evening, I‘m tucked up with a Barbara Pym, and a cup of mulberry tea. I‘ll be posting a final review on my blog later this week. Every six months I participate in the linked club. This month, it‘s literature from the year 1977. If you‘d like to participate do check out the link below:


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1. The trees & leaves, the darkening of the world, apple-things, pumpkin-things, spice-things, Halloween, plaid, flannel, tea, autumn scents and colors, thick socks, light scarves... 😁
2. Winter. Preferably in front of a fireplace, with snow outside
3. The not-too-distant-future
4. I'm trying to spend less... 😬
5. Castles, haunted houses, etc
6. Work, baby, social obligations, sleep
7. I keep track.. it's >1000 at this point. 😳

GypsyKat Great answers! And I love you for not being able to pick a favorite thing about October! It's all so wonderful! 😊🎃🍁🍎 2y
rwmg Is "Quartet in Autumn" one of the 1000? It's a great book, very different from her earlier work, yet still recognisably Pym 2y
Avanders @GypsyKat 💁🏽🎃🍁🍂👻☠️ @rwmg yes - it's one of my more recently acquired books ☺️ It's so pretty.. can't wait to read it! 2y
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#fallintobooks day 22: #fallreads
I decided to go with books with "autumn" titles for this one. None of which I've read though I've certainly enjoyed books by these authors.
Have you read any of these autumn books?

Suet624 Autumn is fantastic. 2y
outis I agree with @Suet624 - Autumn was just lovely. (The narration in the #audiobook was also terrific.) 2y
Cathythoughts Marquez ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ 2y
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The last of my Barbara Pym haul arrived today. I decided to replace 4 tattered copies I already owned and found some lovely editions online. #BookMail

ReadingEnvy Gorgeous 2y
EvieBee @ReadingEnvy Thank you! 😊 2y
Christine I want to start reading Pym! Where would you recommend starting? 2y
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EvieBee @Christine You should! I recommend 2y
Lesliereads Thank you - I'm with @Christine❣️ 2y
EvieBee @Lesliereads I hope you love it! 2y
Christine Ooh okay, thanks!! Off to see if my libraries have Excellent Women! (You too, @Lesliereads ? 😉) 2y
Jess_Read_This Ohhh... this one is just lovely. I might need to put in a Book Depository order asap. 🤔 2y
EvieBee @Jess_Read_This I second that motion! 2y
Avanders Book Bullet! (Purchased ;)) 2y
EvieBee @Avanders 😊👍🏼 2y
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English novelist Pym portrays, somewhat unhurriedly, but with sharp observations on character, four co-workers on the verge of retirement. At the end I was feeling all "I don't want to be one of those lonely people out there when I'm old". I'll definitely be on the lookout for her other novels-- this was one of her last ones. Read for year 1977 of #birthdaychallenge

Cinfhen Look at you! Going strong!!Im about 40 pages away from finishing my 1973 read! 3y
Jas16 I love Pym so I am very excited you liked this. 3y
Mccall0113 My year as well! 3y
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ValerieAndBooks @Cinfhen just as long as you're still plugging along 😊! 3y
ValerieAndBooks @Jas16 what is your favorite by Pym? 3y
ValerieAndBooks @Mccall0113 👏👍have you started it yet? 3y
Jas16 That is a hard question to answer but the one I most often recommend it 3y
RealLifeReading Loved this book! 3y
ValerieAndBooks @Jas16 I'll definitely be on the lookout for that one! Or maybe I'll order it when I decide I need to splurge on myself because I like the current covers that reminds me of old-fashioned wallpaper. 3y
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"Marcia had always appreciated the drama of an ambulance and even wanted to ride in one, but when the time came she was hardly in a position to realise that she was at last achieving this unusual ambition ". ? Almost done with my 1977 book for my #birthdaychallenge ?.

LauraJ I'm falling behind! Just finished 1975. 3y
ValerieAndBooks @LauraJ I feel like I'm behind myself even though this challenge has no deadline (for me) 😊. As long as you're enjoying doing it! I am. 3y
LauraJ @ValerieAndBooks Absolutely! For 1976 I'm reading 3y
ValerieAndBooks @LauraJ wow, how did I miss that as a possible 1976 read? I'll be interested in what you think of it when you get to it (I confess I still haven't read Atwood, but I'll get to it this year)!! 3y
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