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A Glass of Blessings

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,180 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
Well dressed and looked after, Wilmet is married to Rodney, a handsome army Major, working 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 three priests and engaging Piers Longridge who happens to be living with another man. Her limited life has its ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 9th 1994 by Pan (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
Apr 04, 2015 Sketchbook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anglican flirtations. Sensitive, specialized.
"I never know what it is that Christians want when they pray for the sick," said Sybil. "Death is greatly to be desired for believers, and yet they never like to pray for that." Exactly.

Heavenly socials: I bet Joan of Arc is marvelous at bridge. Who else is around? See anyone you know ?
Jul 03, 2008 Lisa added it
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.
Apr 28, 2013 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
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.
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
Jan 11, 2011 Bobbe rated it it was amazing
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
May 19, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it
Non penso che A Glass of Blessings sia uno dei migliori romanzi di Barbara Pym (anche solo perché qui il fulcro della vicenda è spostato dalle sue 'excellent women' a una giovane donna sposata - anche se senza figli - e piuttosto vacua) però mi è piaciuto molto lo stesso.

Come al solito consigliato per chi non ha bisogno necessariamente di una trama e ama immergersi nella descrizione psicologica dei personaggi. La protagonista Wilmet è terribilmente credibile (e forse proprio per questo, antipati
Mar 03, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked 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
Jun 04, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
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
Jul 18, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: england, read-in-2012
"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
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
Jun 13, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: anglophilia
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
Sep 06, 2010 Luann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-ladies
One of her best, I think. A lot going on beneath the surface -- understated and rich. Love her. Loved it.
Jul 27, 2012 Gary rated it really liked it
A wonderfully wry comedy of Anglo-Catholic manners in the 1950's.
Sep 02, 2012 Serenknitity rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2013 JoAnn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Aug 18, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, classics
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
Feb 17, 2014 Dagný rated it really liked it
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
Andrew Tibbetts
May 07, 2015 Andrew Tibbetts rated it it was amazing
I just finished my first ever Barbara Pym! Recommended by some smart Zoetrope online writing group person.

She wrote high comic novels about church parish manners in 1950's England. Her milieu is teeny-tiny, but her depth of insight is astonishing. She was largely forgotten until the 70's when a couple of British intelligentsia mentioned that she was the most under-rated novelist of the century, and then everyone was surprised she was still alive. So she felt affirmed and wrote two other novels,
Russell Sanders
Dec 10, 2014 Russell Sanders rated it really liked it
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
Jan 25, 2014 Lisa Lieberman rated it really liked it
Shelves: comfort-food
Quiet, with endearing characters. Just the thing to read by the fire on a cold night, with a cup of tea close at hand.
Apr 25, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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
Marcia Bianchi
Mar 05, 2014 Marcia Bianchi rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
Jan 30, 2009 Kieran Walsh rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 03, 2012 Mary Lou rated it liked it
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.
Dec 20, 2015 Ginni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-reading, of a 1980 Penguin edition that is now falling apart. It's not going to be thrown out though - too much of a favourite. This title was first published in 1958.
I first discovered Barbara Pym through a Woman's Hour serialisation of Quartet in Autumn, published in 1977. I had never heard of her, not surprising as when her books 'went out of fashion' in the 60s and early 70s, she became discouraged and stopped writing. She had renewed interest from the reading world in 1977, wh
MeiLin Miranda
Mar 23, 2014 MeiLin Miranda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 21, 2015 Alarie rated it liked it
I’ve been rereading Barbara Pym, and enjoyed this novel a bit more than A Few Green Leaves, because the characters were up to more interesting adventures. As usual, Pym pokes a bit of fun at clergy, society, and anthropologists. However, behind the humor, is a bored, unfulfilled young wife, Wilmer Forsyth. Like many young women after WWII, she finds it hard to occupy herself. Wilmer was busy and useful serving in the Wrens. Now she has servants to do the cleaning and cooking, no job or children, ...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
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