Monday 8 July 2013

Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

Jane and Pru has all the trademark Pymesque qualities that I have come to know and love very quickly.

It's not as tightly drawn or poignant as Excellent Women, but bumbling curates, index cards and copious amounts of tea and cake can keep one amused for quite some time!

I've only lived in the UK for a short period of time, many years ago, so my knowledge of British men is limited, but I did meet several of the bumbling, helpless, hopeless men that populate Pym's novels. They do exist.

I am curious about all the other types of men though. Did Pym never meet any of them? Did she not find them as amusing perhaps?

Even though happily married now, I recognised a lot of myself in Prudence.
Not so much the endless flings (Pru is one of those people in love with the idea of being in love, who loves the beginning of a relationship more than the follow through).

But I did recognise the desire for freedom, bohemia and an intellectual life. In Pru it manifested itself in gorgeous house clothes, the Vogue style home furnishings and the self-consciousness of how her life might look to others.

Pym's characters are not always warm, lovable or even completely likable. Instead they are flawed, sometimes annoying, often irritating but 100% human.

I'm looking forward to my rereads of Pym. From everything I've read Pym grows on you with each reread. In this case, familiarity does not breed contempt.


  1. Anonymous8/7/13

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  2. Your post makes me want to reread Jane and Prudence right away!

    1. I can't wait to be at the reread stage with all Pym's books - I think the humour will come through even more with each reread :-)

  3. I'm another Pym fan. I was hooked from my first reading of Some Tame Gazelle (I should really check the title, but I'm pretty sure that's it). Those are books I never give away.

    1. STG has been highly recommended to me several times...I think it will be next Pym!

  4. I haven't read this one yet, but I have it on the TBR stacks!

  5. I liked this one, though I agree that Excellent Women is hard to beat for Pym perfection. I'm reading Crampton Hodnet at the moment - very enjoyable!

  6. Anonymous15/7/13

    I've never read any Pym but now I am really interested in doing so! "bumbling, helpless, hopeless men" sound entertaining and realistic characters are always good!


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