- Audio Cassette
- Publisher: Chivers Audio Books; Unabridged edition (September 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0745127673
- ISBN-13: 978-0745127675
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,055,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Excellent Women Audio, Cassette – Audiobook, Unabridged
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An unqualifiedly great novel from the writer most likely to be compared to Jane Austen, this is a very funny, perfectly written book that can rival any other in its ability to capture the essence of its characters on the page. Mildred Lathbury, the narrator of Pym's excellent book is a never-married woman in her 30s--which in 1950s England makes her a nearly-confirmed spinster. Hers is a pretty unexciting life, centered around her small church, and part-time job. But Mildred is far more perceptive and witty than even she seems to think, and when Helena and Rockingham Napier move into the flat below her, there seems to be a chance for her life to take a new direction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Mildred Lathbury, the narrator of Excellent Women, is washing up after providing her neighbors with tea and yet another opportunity to impress their problems upon her. Mildred maintains a tolerant and wonderfully wry perspective on her supporting role in the melodramatic lives of others, but she has no desire to be "always making cups of tea at moments of crisis." In fact, she has complicated and often inappropriate ideas about her relationship to people around her. She examines the social psychology of each situation afterward as if she were inspecting a soapy cup for lingering stains: "My thoughts went round and round and it occurred to me that if I ever wrote a novel it would be of the 'stream of consciousness' type and deal with an hour in the life of a woman at the sink." Excellent Women, however, goes beyond Mildred's introspection to include a bevy of curates, anthropologists, gossips, and ingrates in parochial, academic, and domestic contexts. In Barbara Pym's fiction, the preoccupations are petty, the daydreams disappointing, the romance unromantic, and the intelligent woman who does all the work is bound to be unappreciated. Oddly enough, these elements add up to delightful reading. Honesty, insight, feminism, and some terribly funny remarks are hidden among the teacups and conversations. If you are patient with Excellent Women you may discover an entirely unexpected story sandwiched between the lines. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Kirsten Backstrom --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The truly excellent narrator shows the heroic levels of insight into self, situation, other protagonists and her own narrow future which are both a blessing and a curse: unlike others in her tiny dreary circle, she's incapable of the sorts of self-delusion we employ to make the unbearable bearable.
Pym charts her course in the most richly English-understated, gentility-restrained comic prose since that employed to bring to life the world of Mister Darcy.
The book is set in England just after World War II and revolves around the life of a single woman in her 30s, then considered to be old and pretty much unmarriageable. She dedicates her life to a part-time job, friends and church activities, and would be considered a "gentlewoman," as the kind and well-bred daughter of a vicar. Despite this rather dry existence, she is delightful, funny and smart - always a step ahead in understanding everyone around her and very interested in men, despite her 30-plus years.
When a couple moves into the flat below our heroine, her life changes. The husband is charming and becomes a friend, causing her to evaluate who he is and his motives. I won't give away the plot, but she is attracted to him even as she and his wife are also friends. The book is definitely worth reading.
Barbara Pym has been overlooked in the U.S., and that is a shame. I highly recommend this book as entertaining, witty, well-written and a quietly rollicking good time!
"I sat down at the table without any very high hopes, for both Julian and Winifred, as is often the way with good, unworldly people, hardly noticed what they ate and drank, so that a meal with them was a doubtful pleasure. Mrs. Jubb, who might have been quite a good cook with any encouragement, must have lost heart long ago. Tonight she set before us a pale macaroni cheese and a dish of boiled potatoes, and I noticed a blancmange or 'shape' , also of an indeterminate colour, in a glass dish on the sideboard. Not enough salt, or perhaps no salt, I thought, as I ate the macaroni. And not really enough cheese."