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

Barbara Pym 1913-1980

I discovered Barbara Pym in the later 1990s by virtue of a bookgroup which chose Quartet in Autumn as its monthly read. It wasn’t the book itself that encouraged me to tramp to the public library for a copy; it was the enthusiasm of the group members overall for this woman’s work, the flurry of chatter about these stories, these characters.

Now, of course, it seems impossible that I ever had not heard of her, that I could have knelt down to the shelf to run my fingertips across the row of William-Morris-ish-covered hardbacks without a certain fondness. I don’t recall if I started to read Quartet immediately, but I do recall that, when I had started (and had, very shortly thereafter, finished), I knew that I would be (and, indeed, was) revisiting that shelf often. The next one I chose was No Fond Return of Love (seduced by the first sentence) but after that I descended into what I affectionately recall as the Great Pym-Blur. Yum.

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[More about Barbara Pym: Who, Where, What]
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