Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Reading Assignment 1/20/12

I've had to turn to comfort literature lately.  Today's assignment is Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.  We've already discussed another of her novels, Some Tame Gazelle.  Excellent Women is about Mildred Lathbury, a spinster in her early thirties, in London, around 1950.  Of course it's ridiculous now to consider a woman Mildred's age to be a "spinster" or to even use the word spinster, unless you are Bridget Jones.

Poor Mildred, even her name is dreary.  Her peaceful life is disturbed when Rocky and Helena Napier, a glamorous young couple, move into the flat below hers.  There are blushing references to the bathroom that the two flats share.  Soon they're sharing more than just a bathroom as Mildred becomes more involved in the Napier's lives than she would wish.  Meanwhile, her usual circle of friends is disrupted by the introduction of an attractive but pushy young widow.

Mildred may appear to be dull, but she has a sense of humor and Barbara Pym is marvelous about narrating her characters' thoughts. I feel ambivalent about the ending of this novel, although I can't really say why, without spoiling it for you.  To me, with my heavy responsibilities to children and husband, Mildred's solitary life seems like paradise.


  1. I read Some Tame Gazelle after you posted about it previously. I enjoyed it --a very gentle kind of read. This one sounds good too.

    The bummer is her books aren't available on my Kindle :-)

  2. Mmmm. Mildred. That is a dreary name.
    I need to score a Pym book.

  3. interesting.....isn't it strange how different our world is now from that of Barbara's stories??

  4. Oh I love Barbara Pym. I like how her books are oftern subtly connected to each other with a character here and there, or even a mention of a character from one book in another. I think you and I are reading soul sisters, we read a lot of the same things :) Have you read any Miss Read? You'd probably like it if you are doing comfort reading, it's like Barbara Pym mixed with Jan Karon minus the religion. I can read them over and over.

  5. Have I read Miss Read? LOL, she was my mainstay in the difficult time after my mother died.

  6. See! We we are reading soul sisters!