Cynthia's Reviews > A Glass of Blessings

A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym
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Nov 07, 12

bookshelves: books-read-in-2010, re-reads-2012, books-read-in-2012
Read in November, 2012

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 suppose 29 was considered differently then.) Though she’s happy with her husband whom she met in Italy while serving as a WREN and he was a dashing soldier she still likes the attention of other men. She runs into them at innocuous places such as church and while visiting friends. Pym’s humor is understated. There are no mean undertones. She touches on homey things like knitting, helping a friend choose a new dress or hairdo, nights at home with her husband and mother in law, romantic memories of the war years and Italy, church gossip, and even listening to John Rutter on the radio directing Christmas carols sung by the King’s Cambridge choir. She invokes past authors such as Wilde and Woolf and Trollope. I hope I’m not giving the impression that this is a bit of fluff writing because it’s not. It’s immensely complex writing but I also keep wanting to describe it as delicate. The best part of her writing is having a front row seat at a cozy chat between friends where you get to see the subtext.

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11-2-10
reread
11-7-12 with otherlit group
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely I hope I’m not giving the impression that this is a bit of fluff writing because it’s not. It’s immensely complex writing but I also keep wanting to describe it as delicate.

Oh you are not, C. I think that you choose your books so well that having a one with fluff writing will not a regular feat for you. As always, nice review!


message 2: by Teresa (new)

Teresa I haven't read Pym, but keep meaning to, as so many of my reading friends seem to enjoy her. Your review reminds me of Gaskell's Cranford which also might seem like fluff, but isn't; also complex and delicate, as you said of Pym.


Cynthia Thanks KD and Teresa. I forgot that Pym mentioned Cranford in this book and I felt it was apt. She's like a new age Austen imo.


message 4: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "I forgot that Pym mentioned Cranford in this book and I felt it was apt. She's like a new age Austen imo."

Then you got the feel of the book down-pat in your review!


message 5: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· I agree that Pym is vastly under-estimated.


message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara C, your wonderful reviews always lead me to new discoveries. I'll have to read her! Thanks!


message 7: by Maria (new)

Maria Your review touches on exactly what I like about Pym myself, her complexity yet "homey" simplicity & understated wry humor with no meanness.


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