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A Glass of Blessings

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  925 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Well dressed and looked after, Wilmet, the novel's heroine, is married to Rodney, a handsome army major, who works nine thirty to six at the Ministry. Wilmet's interest wanders to the nearby Anglo-Catholic church, where at last she can neglect her comfortable household in the company of a cast of characters, including three priests. Set in 1950s London, this witty novel is ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Moyer Bell (first published 1958)
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It’s really a shame Pym isn’t read and talked about more often. Her writing evokes Anthony Trollope with his insights into people’s hearts crossed with a dollop of Jane Austen’s humor. Pym writes about middle class people going about their day to day activities just as Trollope and Austen did and just like them she makes the characters fascinating.

The book is set in the 50’s and told from the viewpoint of a 29 year old childless woman named Wilmet as she tries to navigate growing older. (I suppo
Pym's books are literary comfort food; sweet, sad tales of real--ordinary--people. Impoverished gentlewomen, spinsters, repressed bachelors, pensioners and altar-society matrons; unfailingly soothing.
I think this will end up being one of my favorite Pyms. I particularly liked the main character, Wilmet, who's terribly self-centered (though not in a nasty way) but very sympathetic at the same time.
"Oh Wilmet, life is perfect now! I've got everything that I could possibly want. I keep thinking that it's like a glass of blessings - life, I mean..."
"That comes from a poem by George Herbert, doesn't it?" I said. 'When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by ..."
"But don't forget that other line ... how when all the other blessing had been bestowed, rest lay in the bottom of the glass...

In ‘A Glass of Blessings’ we are back in the familiar parochial territory that we fi
"Wilmet Forsyth is fairly young, good-looking, well dressed, well looked after, suitably husbanded and rather bored. Her interest wanders to the nearby Anglo-Catholic church and its three unmarried priests, and on to Piers Longridge whose enigmatic overtures are rather intriguing.

"The story of an innocent at large is, as usual, handled brilliantly and tactfully by a writer whose sense of social comedy, and whose penetration, are of the highest order."
~~back cover

I must have blinked, & missed
Alexander Inglis
Here was a totally unexpected -- and unexpectedly delightful -- read. Barbara Pym was hailed twice by the Times Literary Supplement as "the most underrated novelist of the century" -- that was 1977; she died three years later in 1980 at the age of 67 having published just 7 novels in her lifetime of which A Glass of Blessings was her fifth.

Set in 1950s London, this witty novel is told through the narration of the shallow and self-absorbed protagonist Wilmet Forsyth who, despite her flaws, begins
In the late 1950's, Wilmet Forsyth is nearing her thirtieth birthday. She lives in a suburb of London with her husband, Rodney and her mother-in-law, Sybil. Wilmet met Rodney in Italy during WWII. Back then he was a dashing Officer in the Army and she was a young woman serving in the WREN's. In the intervening years Rodney has put on a few pounds, begun to lose his hair and his job at the Ministry keeps him busy.

An acute observer of her surroundings and particularly of the happenings in the loc
This was a reread for me, and cliche or not, I love every one of Pym's books for their Austen-like quality, the most gentle yet pointed and funny contemporary social commentary I know of and impossible to describe. I mean, the main character here is an upper middle-class 30ish Britisher whose main concerns are church doings, what she wears, critiquing her friends, romantic dreaming...and I'm riveted and smiling all the way through. It may help to be an Anglophile, I'm not sure. I identify with s ...more
London, early 1950s. Wilmet is bored with her life. Once she was a glamorous young WREN, flirting with officers in WWII Italy. Now, married to a respectable husband, with plenty of household help and no children or job, she has nothing to do but interest herself in the life of others. Those “others” include Piers, the brother of her best friend Rowena and the three priests in her parish. The two plots develop in parallel. Piers, an intelligent and attractive young man who can’t seem to settle do ...more
One of her best, I think. A lot going on beneath the surface -- understated and rich. Love her. Loved it.
I picked up this book because the author of Americanah was asked by the NY Times Book Review what she had read in 2013 and really enjoyed. “I discovered Barbara Pym’s ‘A Glass of Blessings’ this year and could not believe I had never read Pym. I loved it. It does that ancient, wonderful thing literature is supposed to do: instruct and delight. Pym is brilliant at portraying middle-class England in the 1950s, and even more so at honestly engaging with the ‘psychology of femaleness.’ It is a ‘slic ...more
Usually I like Pym’s heroines more than I did here; Wilmet seems less self-aware than Pym’s usual, especially as a first person narrator. I simultaneously loved and hated the moment when Wilmet and her husband burst out laughing together in the horrid little restaurant; it seemed too pat, but is life really like that after all? Loved the scene that’s illustrated on the cover of the edition I read -- Wilmet entering the parish hall for the evening social gathering to meet Father Ransome. Reminded ...more
I loved this book - Wilmet, on first impression a somewhat spoiled, shallow woman, really grew on me. I particularly enjoyed the section where she goes out for a 'cosy women's shopping lunch' with her friend, Rowena, and they agree that the spring weather makes one feel unsettled, and that 'one ought to be in Venice with a lover'. Rowena then admits 'But sometimes, you know, I envy really wicked women, or even despised spinsters - they at least can have their dreams.' The whole chapter was pitch ...more
"Oh Wilmet, life is perfect now! I've got everything that I could possibly want. I keep thinking that it's like a glass of blessings - life, I mean..."
"That comes from a poem by George Herbert, doesn't it?" I said. 'When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by ..."
"But don't forget that other line ... how when all the other blessing had been bestowed, rest lay in the bottom of the glass..." (loc 3996)

Barbara Pym novels have been my "comfort read" of choice for several ye
Barbara Pym has been referred to as "the most under-rated author of the 20th Century" and a modern Jane Austen. Like Austen, Pym was a single woman who appeared to spend a considerable amount of time and energy ruminating on the character flaws of others and romanticizing the nature of love.

A Glass of Blessings is one of Pym's post-War novels that attracted a new generation of readers in the 1980's. For me, her books were subtle enough that I had to read two or three before I developed a taste f
The name of author Barbara Pym would be one I have seen floating around, for decades. It had some aura of praise attached to it, but no substance. I decided to read one of her books. I randomly chose A Glass of Blessings.

Thinking, now, of how best to describe the book, an image of a gray coat from the fifties comes to my mind. It might seem ordinary, yet, when you see the material closely, it is finely spun and woven with strands of delicate colors blending to that grey, and while tailored for
Russell Sanders
Barbara Pym, with A Glass of Blessings, has written a wonderful mid-20th century comedy of manners. (Perhaps, in this case, I should say “wrote,” for Pym has long ago shaken this mortal coil and ascended into the heavens; somehow, I think she would like my formal speech here.) Wilmet Forsyth is a 32 year old British middle class housewife who lives a staid, uneventful life, so she fantasizes about her friend’s brother Piers, speculates on the propriety of the new Anglican clergyman Marius Ransom ...more
Lisa Lieberman
Quiet, with endearing characters. Just the thing to read by the fire on a cold night, with a cup of tea close at hand.
Terrific novel, her best since Excellent Women (looked at chronologically). I admire the discipline at work here: not a single character who is an Oxford grad in English (although she can't resist inserting a couple of lines of poetry here and there) or one who has wild flights of fancy about every day events. There isn't anything about anthropologists, either (not that I mind), although one minor character is an archeologist. She also managed to work a couple of gay men into the plot, which was ...more
Mar 24, 2014 kasia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to kasia by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mentioned this as the best book she'd read in 2013, and that was enough to make me want to read it. And I did not regret it. Although it petered out a bit towards the end (hence the four stars rather than 5), I mostly loved every minute. Smart, subtle, and wonderfully funny, with a gently ironic insight into human psychology reminiscent of Austen or Flaubert ("That anyone could doubt my capacity to love! But strangely enough my immediate thought was that I could not bear ...more
Marzia Bianchi
I think this book would have been more enjoyable for me as an audiobook. It could easily be adapted as a stage play.
Kieran Walsh
This is my fourth Barbara Pym I've read and, to date, my favorite.....Another book which might be thought of, on face value, as English snobbery but, given the times that the book was written, it was remarkably progressive. There's a juxtaposition of characters (Church going Wilmet, agnostic Sybil, gay Piers, leering Harry, doting Rodney). The book could be written last year and still be current.
Mary Lou
I first discovered the joy of Barbara Pym books about 20 odd years ago- I suppose at a time when a number of her books had recently been published posthumously. The joy has nt faded, althou it is strange now to be looking at her virtuous women as 'an older than them' rather than 'younger than them'reader. Funny, insightful and an absolute pleasure.
MeiLin Miranda
Here is one of those stories where nothing much seems to happen--in fact, several times the thing that happens is that another thing didn't happen--and yet the story is satisfying; one closes the book with a happy sigh.

In the overtones of small-time Church of England politics, fans of Trollope's Barchester novels may find enjoyment in this book, and, I'm told, in much of Pym's work; I've just begun reading her, so I couldn't say for sure. I can't help but wonder whatever did become of Pym's youn

There is a lot I do not know about Ms. Pym. And there is so much I don't comprehend about England:
"You see, the church nearest to us is very Low and I couldn't bear that."
"I imagine not, " said Piers" {page 8}

"(he) had been watching for our arrival in a rather Cranfordian way." {p 107}

Overall, I found the book great, it was well written, the characters were interesting. But, the plot was limited to begin with and the book just ended, not in mid stream, but just in a life goes on kind of way. S
Rita	 Marie
One of Pym's best. Narrated in first person by our heroine, Wilmet Forsyth, the book shows Wilmet's social circle exactly as she sees it, and thus we get to know her as well. Wow, is she naïve! So many things just go sliding past her, and we know this because of comments by her husband, mother-in-law, acquaintances, etc. Wilmet has a high opinion of herself, she means well, and she'd love to be helpful to others as long as it isn't too much trouble.

Most of the actual happenings occur towards th
Another wonderful book by Pym. 1958. It's hard to describe her books, they are just awfully good. I enjoy every word, never want to skip a single word.
There's not a whole lot that happens in this book and yet I found it captivating, beautiful, and highly engaging.

Wilmet is a sort of society matron (but of course she's just barely 30) in London in the 1950s. She's sensitive and astute and pays close attention to everything. She's going through a lull in her life and in her identity. She is a little sour on her husband and is drawn into the daily life of an Anglican Catholic church. And she develops a crush on another man.

For as many characters
A wonderfully wry comedy of Anglo-Catholic manners in the 1950's.
Carol Taylor
This is my first book by Barbara Pym. She died in 1980 but someone had written a review of her books a few months ago and that got me interested. A Glass of Blessings was recommended as a good starting point. The main character is a married woman in her thirties who beings exploring relationships with other men - the brother of her best friend, the new Anglican priest in the parish, etc. It's much more character-driven than plot-driven but there's a lot of humor and social observations that make ...more
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After studying English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, she served in the Women's Royal Naval Service during World War II.

The turning point for Pym came with a famous article in the Times Literary Supplement in which two prominent names, Lord David Cecil and Philip Larkin, nominated her as the most underrated writer of the century. Pym and Larkin had kept up a private correspondence over a period o
More about Barbara Pym...
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