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Some Tame Gazelle

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,919 ratings  ·  393 reviews
Barbara Pym is a master at capturing the subtle mayhem that takes place in the apparent quiet of the English countryside. Fifty-something sisters Harriet and Belinda Bede live a comfortable, settled existence. Belinda, the quieter of the pair, has for years been secretly in love with the town's pompous (and married) archdeacon, whose odd sermons leave members of his flock ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published March 14th 1999 by Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries (first published 1950)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  2,919 ratings  ·  393 reviews

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The older I get, the more seriously I take Barbara Pym. Reading this book it strikes me that what she writes is very funny, and also very sad. Reading this after Cranford brings out parallels as well, and some anger -- anger about how we treat Barbara Pym and her sort of book, anger than no one in her books would ever express.

The women in these books are so easy to dismiss as trivial, and obsessed with trivialities: is the local church service too high, will I be disgraced at the jumble sale, i
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: virago
3.5 stars
My first novel by Barbara Pym and this is her first novel, published in 1950, but started before the war and the setting feels pre-war as well. The title comes from a poem by Thomas Haynes Bayly:
“Some Tame Gazelle, or some gentle dove:
Something to love, oh something to love”
The premise is a simple one and the novel is based on Pym and her sister. Pym started it in her 20s and imagined herself and her sister in their 50s, unmarried and living together. Belinda and Harriet Bede are sister
Mary Ronan Drew
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rereading Barbara Pym periodically is enlightening. When I first encountered her books I thought they were somewhat amusing but not in the least profound. As I grow older I recognize how perceptive her depiction is of unmarried middle aged women whose lives have constricted to the daily round and the common task with its small pleasures and pains.

Pym was born in 1913 and was 37 when Some Tame Gazelle was published in 1950, but she showed a remarkable sensitivity to women in their 50s, spinsters,
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the middle of the 1930s, not long after she came down from Oxford, the young Barbara Pym wrote her first novel. She borrowed a title from Thomas Haynes Bayley.

"Some tame gazelle, or some gentle dove:
Something to love, oh, something to love!"

Its significance wasn’t clear to me at first, but as I read understood.

And then Barbara Pym imagined how she and her sister might be, thirty years in the future. She creates that world, perfect in every detail, a future built on the world she knew that wo
Britta Böhler
Charming, with a delightful ‘bite’.
Barbara K
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was recently moved to revisit Barbara Pym, as an antidote, I think, to the chaos of our world and the intensity of many of the books I'd been reading. Pym's novels, of which this, written in 1950, is the first, typically focus on the quiet lives of unmarried women living in villages in rural or suburban England.

Not a lot happens in these books; the characters tend not to have exotic temperaments. Their social interactions often involve local clergymen - in a most proper way, of course.

So wha
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I first read Barbara Pym 30 years ago. I devoured all her works. But over time, I'd forgotten exactly how much and why I loved her.

The phrase "some tame gazelle" is quoted at the beginning of the book. It refers to having some, any in fact, object for one's love. We all need something or someone to love. It's a deep part of being human.

Belinda and Harriet Bede are two middle-aged "spinsters" (not a word one hears much anymore!) who live in a small English village. They are active in the local ch
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
A Barbara Pym novel for me is the greatest of guilty pleasures. Though this is not my favorite of her novels, it was a wonderful reminder of all the reasons that I adore her.

The story of two spinster sisters in a tiny township in England, where the most exciting news is the arrival of a new curate for the church, should not be page turning reading. But, I will tell you that no one is better at developing the simple lives of wonderfully complex people like Barbara Pym. I hesitate to compare her
Laurel Hicks
I really enjoy Barbara Pym's quiet, peppery humor. I wish she were better known. I thoroughly approve of the way this book ends. ...more
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Barbara Pym started writing this, her first novel, in her twenties. Basing the characters on herself and her sister and friends, she placed them, middle-aged, in a parochial setting in the countryside.

Sisters Belinda (Pym) and Harriet (Pym's sister Hilary) are confirmed spinsters sharing a house and a life filled with gardening, church activities and endless speculation about other people's comings and goings. Belinda carries a torch for the Archdeacon, who is unhappily married to prickly Agath
Roger Pettit
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Pym may not be the the very best novelist that has ever put pen to paper. But she is unquestionably my favourite. She has provided me with more hours of pure reading pleasure than any other writer I can think of (only Agatha Christie, whose detective stories I devoured when I was a teenager and who, with Enid Blyton, is primarily responsible for my love of reading, comes close). Yes, Ms Pym's stories are usually set in what now seems like an almost vanished world of genteel Anglo-Catholi ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some tame gazelle, or some gentle dove:
Something to love, oh, something to love!
---Thomas Haynes Bayly

Two reasonably content spinster sisters live together in a small town. Harriet "dotes" on young curates, having them over for meals and taking them presents, while our main character Belinda has spent thirty years gently nursing a flame for her college boyfriend, long since married and a clergyman in the same town.
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
My first Pym; her 1950 debut. A quiet yet hilarious novel about two 50-something unmarried sisters in a small British town: Harriet dotes on each successive young curate and Belinda still carries a torch for her college beau, who's long since been the married archdeacon across the street. I especially loved how Pym softened my laughter at Harriet and Belinda's foibles by making me recognize their yearnings as my--as our--very own. ...more
Loes Dissel
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the opening line of this novel you are safely and deliciously in Pym Country writes Mavis Cheek in her introduction. That's exactly where I've been during this read. ...more
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Barbara Pym is not for everyone...Her main characters are always maiden ladies of a certain age living in small villages in England sometime after WWII. They are engaged in fastidious (yet hilarious) tasks usually involving the parsonage and a young, unsuspecting curate who will need to eat their boiled chicken dinners before he leaves for another post. They dissect all encounters with food, neighbors, men, clothing, dust, and the garden. There is the upmost respect for librarians and anyone who ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is her first novel and my second Barbara Pym novel. Barbara Pym writes of English village life and the main characters here are two spinster sisters whose chief form of entertainment seems to be refusing marriage proposals. There really is not much plot, rather it takes place over the course of months and is a slice of their life. They are minutely fixated on details of dress, food and their neighbors lives, especially the archdeacon who one of the sisters continues to pine for after 30 yea ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some Tame Gazelle
Some Tame Gazelle, or some gentle dove:
Something to love, oh something to love!
(Thomas Haynes Bayly)
My first read of 2013, and the first read of two reading challenges. Some Tame Gazelle fitted into my month of re-reading, and the Barbara Pym centenary readalong with members of the Libraryuthing Virago group and other Pym fans.
Some Tame Gazelle was Barbara Pym’s first published novel; published in 1950 it was in fact written much earlier. Pym was writing the novel while she hers
I’d only read one other Pym novel, Quartet in Autumn, a late and fairly melancholy story of four lonely older people. With her first novel I’m in more typical territory, I take it. The middle-aged Bede sisters are pillars of the church in their English village. Harriet takes each new curate under her wing, making of them a sort of collection, and fends off frequent marriage proposals from the likes of a celebrity librarian and an Italian count.

Belinda, on the other hand, only has eyes for one ma
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh this is my third Barbara Pym and she's fast becoming a complete delight. The literary equivalent of sinking your teeth into a delicious afternoon tea. This was wickedly funny, spinsters, vicars, the dilemmas of knitting socks. No-one captures the absurdities of English village life like Pym. ...more
Pamela Shropshire
This is my first time reading Barbara Pym who is often called a mid-20th century Jane Austen. I didn’t realize until I finished the book that Some Tame Gazelle was her first book. The title comes from a poem by Thomas Bayly:

Some tame gazelle, or some gentle dove:/Something to love, oh, something to love!

We see most of the story from the viewpoint of Belinda Bede; she and her sister, Harriet, are middle-class, middle-aged English spinsters that are so commonly found in literature set in the Peri
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I do Love Ms. Pym. This was such a fun book. The Bede sisters are just hysterical. They are candid and remind me of someone that could be my friend or sister. I also love the depiction of the clergy...they act like schoolgirls most of the time and it's quite refreshing to see these men of the cloth as human beings.

I love Pym's writing...she's so witty, even when she's just talking about simple village life. That is one thing that really attracts me to her writing...her plots are fairly simple,
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-fiction
I have just re-read this after about 20 years and fell in love with all the characters once again. How well she understood people and their foibles, and especially their dreams. Those dreams are often unrealized, and one sees eventually that it is probably just as the characters themselves wish.
Mary Pagones
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book, although nothing really happens, and it's difficult to say what it's about. Two spinster sisters, Harriet and Belinda Bede, live with one another and receive a number of hilarious proposals from members of the clergy, all of which rival Mr. Collins's from Pride and Prejudice in epic awfulness. These proposals are a bit more realistic, which perhaps makes them more awful.

The humor is much broader than in Pym's later books, and some of the ironic lines are laugh-out loud funn
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alltimefavorites
loved this the 2nd time around and think i will love it more and more with each future read.

ohhhh happy to be reading this again! the first paragraph is so funny and great!!!
"the new curate seemed quite a nice young man, but what a pity it was that his combinations showed, tucked carelessly into his socks, when he sat down. Belinda had noticed it when they had met him for the first time at the vicarage last week and had felt quite embarrassed. Perhaps Harriet could say something t
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I took a few days to gather my thoughts before writing this review -- I feel like I have so much to say, and was worried I couldn't find the words. I read this book when younger and remembering liking quite a bit, but now that I'm older and wiser I realize just how wonderful it is.

As those who know me know, I read a lot -- and a lot of different types of books. Mystery, historical, literary, scifi, fantasy -- it's all good. But I've always had a soft spot in heart for a genre we might call norma
This book was the selection for July for my local book club. It's not my typical fare and I don't know if I would've read it if it hadn't been for my club. But I found it to be an entertaining tale, if a bit dry. I have never read Pride and Prejudice, but I imagine this is a similar kind of tale. I enjoy stories set in England, but I tend to prefer cozy mysteries.

The dialogue is witty and the social commentary is humorous and somewhat biting. I enjoyed the interpersonal relationships in such a
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
LibrayThing’s Virago Group is reading twelve of Barbara Pym’s mid-twentieth century novels to celebrate the centenary of her birth. This happens to be the only Pym that I’ve already read, and I enjoyed it just as much this time around.

This was originally recommended by a reader after I reviewed Miss Read’s charming journals of English country life in the 1950s.

Also set in an English country village and in the same time period, the style is more reminiscent of Jane Austen than Miss Read.

Barbara P
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
In the 80's the Pym novels were re-issued, and the author received very belated adulation for her work. At that time, I binged on Pym and now I am re-reading some of the novels for perhaps the third time.

For me, the fascination is in comparing the lives of her educated, middle-class women with ours today. In some of the other books her "excellent women" work in non-profit associations or semi-academic positions. Not so, for the University graduates in Some Tame Gazelle. Their lives are small, re
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2007
Published in 1950, it's a wonderful if somewhat bittersweet tale of two sisters, Belinda and Harriet single women in a time when women were expected to marry or live in a very coded way. Belinda has been holding a torch for Henry, the archdeacon for 30 years since he chose to marry Agatha. Harriet spends her time pampering every new vicar that arrives in the village, refusing marriage proposals from a middle age Italian Count. It's every day life at his simplest but also at it's most poignant. L ...more
Susan in NC
Oct 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Pym, although she was recommended to me years ago on Amazon; I picked up a few ancient paperback editions from my local used book store over the years and put them on the "to-read" shelf. I just finished "Some Tame Gazelle" last night, and I really enjoyed it. I know Pym's been compared to Austen, and I see that, but I also think, as a NYT reviewer says on the cover of my edition, ". . .Barbara Pym is funnier!" Reading her makes me feel like I do when I read Anthony Trollope: t ...more
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After studying English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, Barbara Pym served in the Women's Royal Naval Service during World War II. From 1950 to 1961, she published six novels, but her 7th was declined by the publisher due to a change in the reading public's tastes.

The turning point for Pym came with a famous article in the 1975 Times Literary Supplement in which two prominent names, Lord David Cecil

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