I was introduced to Barbara Pym’s work through a Shelfari group I belong to. Everyone in that group is just mad about her, so I felt inspired to read her too, to see what all the fuss was about.
Excellent Women is the story of Mildred Lathbury. Actually, the book isn’t so much about Mildred as it is about the people around her; Mildred, one of the “excellent women,” has a sharp eye for detail and a subtle kind of wit. Unmarried, she lives and works in London and is heavily involved in church activities. The other major characters are Helena and Rocky Napier, a couple whose relationship is on the rocks, as well as Everard Bone, a surly anthropologist. It’s a novel of romantic misadventures, with lively characters. Although the setting is bucolic, and the humor so subtle that at times it can’t be noticed, there’s something wonderful about the way the characters interact with one another. This was my first Pym; now I’m hooked.
Also reviewed by: Bell Literary Reflections