Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

What (BP)

A bibliography of Barbara Pym’s books is here and Hazel Bell’s Index of Barbara Pym’s writings is here.

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

Once, she knew, she had been different, and perhaps after all the years had left her with a little of that difference. Perhaps she was still an original shining like a comet, mingling no water with her wine. But only very occasionally, mostly she was just like everyone else, rather less efficient, if anything.
Some Tame Gazelle

I suppose an unmarried woman just over thirty, who lives alone and has no apparent ties, must expect to find herself involved or interested in other people’s business, and if she is also a clergyman’s daughter than one might really say that there is no hope for her.
Excellent Women

One’s married friends were too apt to assume that one had absolutely nothing to do when not at the office. A flat with no husband didn’t seem to count as a home.
Jane and Prudence

‘I’m not one of those excellent women, who can just go home and eat a boiled egg and make a cup of tea and be very splendid,’ she thought, ‘but how useful it would be if I were!’
Less than Angels

I suppose that by the time one is seventy one can say confidently and from personal experience that things will pass. At thirty one is still living experimentally, guessing that they will yet almost hoping that they will not.
A Glass of Blessings

I am unlovable, she thought, and unfriendly. When some nice well-meaning woman comes up to me my instinct is to shrink away.
No Fond Return of Love

He had a few days leave still in hand. ‘You never know when they might come in useful,’ he said, but he felt that those extra days would never be needed, but would accumulate like a pile of dead leaves drifting on to the pavement in autumn.
Quartet in Autumn

There was nobody else looking over it except for a middle-aged woman wearing a mackintosh pixie hood and transparent rainboots over her shoes. She was carrying a shopping bag full of books, on top of which lay the brightly coloured packet of a frozen ‘dinner for one’.
The Sweet Dove Died

Tom did not care for his sister’s friend very much, though he respected her as a librarian, even if her interest in local history appeared a little excessive at times and there was something forced and unnatural about her frequent references to the sites of deserted medieval villages and the appearance of ridge and furrow in the landscape. Could any normal woman be quite so interested?
A Few Green Leaves

The afternoon’s shopping had been arranged to console her sister Penelope, who at twenty-five was still young enough to suffer disappointments in love as commonly as colds or headaches.
An Unsuitable Attachment

Young men of twenty-one didn’t usually think about being husbands. They wanted a fine romantic love to fill the time when they were not busy with more important things, like making speeches or writing clever political pamphlets. But women, poor things, wanted more than that.
Crampton Hodnet

Carefully, cautiously, with a cool eye and as much detachment as I could muster, I peeped at myself and Alan, as it were lifting the corner of a curtain or peering through a chink in a lighted window. I saw two people, together yet apart, not exactly incompatible, and I wondered if it was my fault.
An Academic Question

Adam looked puzzled. Cassandra had been harping so much on love during the last few weeks. It was surely unnecessary in a woman who had been happily married for five years, he thought.
Civil to Strangers


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