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Some Tame Gazelle Paperback – March 14, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries; 1ST edition (March 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559212640
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559212649
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Barbara Pym's (1913-1980) first novel, Some Tame Gazelle , was published in 1950, followed by thirteen more books. A writer from the age of sixteen, Barbara Pym has been acclaimed as "the most underrated writer of the century" by the late British poet laureate, Philip Larkin. Her 1977 novel, Quartet in Autumn, was short listed for the Booker Prize. -- Christian Science Monitor

Book Description

Barbara Pym is the twentieth-century literary heiress to Jane Austen, praised by the Huffington Post as “the thinking girl’s romance writer.” 
The Barbara Pym Cookbook, which shows readers how to recreate the English teas and dinners featured in Pym’s fiction, is the perfect companion for devoted fans. 
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Barbara Pym (1913-1980) was a bestselling and award-winning English novelist. Her first book, Some Tame Gazelle (1950), launched her career as a writer beloved for her social comedies of class and manners.

Customer Reviews

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I just finished "Some Tame Gazelle" last night, and I really enjoyed it.
NC Reader
And there are more matchless Pym characters set against a quintessential Pym story, touching and funny and quite wonderful.
P. A. Hogan
I enjoyed this read, recommend it for one in need of a comfy, cozy, easy read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 1997
Format: Paperback
Although it was not her first novel to be published, this was one of Barbara Pym's earliest endeavors. I read in A Very Private Eye (a collection of Miss Pym's letters and journals) that she started writing it in her early 20's, basing the main characters on herself, her sister, the man she was in love with at Oxford, and other friends. However, she aged them all considerably, making them 50-ish years old. I think she may have worked on the book again later, so I don't think it's actually the work of a 22-year old.

Miss Pym appears as Belinda Bede and her sister as Harriet. In the story, they are two spinsters living together in a small village. Interestingly, later in life Barbara Pym and her sister did live together. The character of their clergyman, a married Archdeacon, is based on a man sharing the same first name (Henry) whom Barbara Pym was devoted to in college. He subsequently broke her heart by marrying another woman. The fictional Henry, too, is married, but has been so for 25 years. Belinda/Barbara is still devoted to him, but with warm affection instead of burning passion.

It's hard to explain the appeal of this book. It has humor; Barbara Pym saw the funny side of ordinary happenings and people. And it has pathos, which is a crucial ingredient of the best humor. There is even a touch of feminism, although gentle. For example, when Henry remarks to Belinda that women "enjoy" being martyrs, she repies that they may martyr themselve, but they leave the enjoyment of it to the men.

Like Jane Austen, Barbara Pym limits herself to "a few families in a village," and like Jane Austen she succeeds in providing insight, irony, and, withal, enjoyment and optimism.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By P. A. Hogan on April 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
In the early chapters of "Some Tame Gazelles" we are taken on a "Pym moments" romp through the day-to-day lives of the spinster sisters, Belinda and Harriet Bede. Timid, sentimental Belinda (one of Pym's "Excellent Women")elder of the two, a faithful church worker, has loved the peevish, married Archdeacon Henry Hoccleve ("dear Henry") for over 30 years. Belinda quotes 18th Century poets, wears "sensible" shoes and longs for "some sympathetic person to whom she could say that Dr. Johnson had been so right when he had said that all change is of itself an evil." Plump ("attractive in a fat Teutonic way"),jolly and style-conscious Harriet, in her middle fifties, has a fondness for young curates to whom she serves boiled chicken suppers and makes presents of hand-knitted socks and home-made jellies. We meet: The Reverend Edgar Donne, the latest in a long line of young curates fussed over by Harriet; Edith Liversidge ("a kind of decayed gentlewoman"), the disheveled, blunt-speaking neighbor with an interest in sanitation arrangements; the dreary, snobbish Connie Aspinall, who basks in the memory of her glory days when she was companion to Lady Grudge of Belgrave Square ("a kind of relation of one of Queen Alexandra's Ladies-in-Waiting"); Miss Prior, the touchy sewing woman, in a tender and humorous episode involving cauliflower cheese; the melancholy Count Ricardo Bianco, who on a regular basis offers proposals of marriage to Harriet.Read more ›
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Barbara Pym is a brilliant writer. I, of course, am not the only one who thinks so, or we might never have seen half of the work she eventually published. After writing and publishing 5 novels, with both critical and commercial success, Pym found her 6th novel rejected by her publisher, and by every other publisher she submitted it to. The 60s had arrived, and the sharply pointed humor of Barbara Pym was no longer in fashion. In spite of the rejections, Pym continued to write for 17 more years with what appeared to be no hope of sharing her writing. Luckily, as with most Pym stories, a bittersweet ending allowed the world to have another half dozen Pym novels in print to delight in. SOME TAME GAZELLE, the second novel she wrote (the first was very much juvenilia) and the first she published (following two separate rounds of editing during the next 12 years), is her funniest. Casting her eye to the future, she wrote about her Oxford friends, and about herself and her sister, Hilary, in middle age. Full of inside jokes, the novel's tongue-in-cheek tone sparkles throughout. Pym is a brilliant writer because her sentences are gems. She is funny because of WHAT she says and HOW she says it. And, finally, she is MEAN in the most pleasurable possible way. Pick up any novel by Pym and delight in her. You will be well rewarded.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Trixie on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have just reread SOME TAME GAZELLE and would like to write a comparison to Pym's other novels, for readers trying to decide between them. Of course, they are all marvelous, if you enjoy her kind of very gentle English social humor.
SOME TAME GAZELLE is, I think the most light-hearted and optimistic of Pym's books. The world it presents is very established and secure and the character of Harriet is one of her bubbliest and most life-affirming. The ridiculous foibles of all the characters are looked on with a very forgiving eye.
The down side of this book is its moral seems to be the more things stay the same, the better. Naturally, this doesn't make for a very exciting plot (none of her books are very plot-heavy, but this least of all) and there is a flatness to the ending. The humor is also less profound.
The relationship between the sisters is the strongest element in this book. The weakest is that it doesn't end up very far from where it started out. But that certainly is a delightful and amusing place.
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