Kerry Clare: writer, doctor mother, here tea drinker and author of the lovely and popular literary blog Pickle Me This, has been talking about Barbara Pym for quite a while now. I have a hard time reading Kerry’s blog because it makes me run to the library and take out more books than I could possibly have time for these days. However, one can only hear eloquent praise about a favourite author for so long with out needing to know what all the fuss is about. So far this weekend I have finished one, read a second and started a third Pym novel (that I picked up at my local second hand bookstore on a whim after getting my hair done). We were hit by a Spring snowstorm yesterday and today Moira is under the weather (“I have the cold”) so it has been the perfect weekend to sit around and fit in as much reading as possible.
The first Pym novel I read was Jane and Prudence. It was described as high comedy and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t think I quite understand what high comedy means in the British sense but perhaps after a couple more of her novels I will. I’m also going to have to do some reading about what High and Low mean in terms of the Anglo-Catholic church which is different than the Roman Catholic church and I find it all confusing but it is very important to Pym’s characters. The second novel, which I just finished this morning, was Excellent Women. I thoroughly enjoyed that one and am already looking forward to reading it again someday. Now I have moved on to No Fond Return of Love. So far the characters and subject matters have been similar: spinsters, vicars & vicars wives, curates (I don’t know what a curate is either), church duties and tea – lots and lots of tea drinking. Of course I am over-simplifying things as Pym is able to plumb the depths of human nature, experience and emotion with this seemingly narrow and rather quiet subject matter.
If I’m not careful I may be joining the Barbara Pym Society and really, if it means someone will invite me over for tea or send me hand written letters I can’t see why I haven’t done it already.