Beth Bonini's Reviews > Excellent Women

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
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Oct 20, 2010

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Read in September, 2010

Again, I want to give this novel a 3 1/2 -- but for the exact opposite reasons that I gave that rating to Lorrie Moore. I read this novel and Moore's A Gate at the Stairs back-to-back, and they couldn't be more different. Moore's novel is so very contemporary that I doubt it will still be read in 10 years; on the other hand, Pym's novel -- while precisely placed in slightly shabby middle-class post-War London -- has a timeless quality to it. I enjoyed it, but I found it very easy to put down. You can read a sedate chapter or two at a time, and not be at all tempted to stay up past your bedtime. (If I REALLY LIKE a novel, I tend to race through it; even if it means I'm sleep-deprived the next day.)

Pym is an unshowy writer; her artistry and skill are very understated. The novel is steadily paced and nothing much happens; or, more accurately, things happen but nothing much changes in the main character's life. Although she is only in her early 30s, Mildred has already settled into the quiet life of being an "excellent woman" -- someone to lend an air to other people's problems, sort clothing for the church jumble sale, and subsist without much love or rich meat in her life.
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04/11 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Relyn (new)

Relyn This sounds fascinating. I do the same thing with books I love - I read all night. My students are always fascinated the next day when I tell them I stayed up all night reading a great book.

Beth Bonini How old are your students?
Don't any of them stay up all night to read a book? I was the original flashlight-under-the-covers kid; although more often I would just go read in my closet!

message 3: by Relyn (new)

Relyn My fourth graders were, but these are only second graders. So, not yet...

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