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Excellent Women (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 26, 2006
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
In Twenty Years: A Novel
When five college roommates gather after twenty years, can the rifts between them be repaired? Learn More
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A startling reminder that solitude may be chosen and that a lively, full novel can be constructed entirely within the precincts of that regressive virtue, feminine patience. (John Updike, The New Yorker)
Reading Barbara Pym is . . . a wonderful experience, full of unduplicable perceptions, sensations, and soul-stirrings. (Newsweek)
Top Customer Reviews
Relevancy aside, this is a good read. Pym lays out her well-defined world much as Jane Austen does, providing a critical and always witty tour. The characters are drawn as sharply as any Austen delivered. The novel is entertaining but rewardingly complex as it probes not only gender and social mores but also asks if Mildred Lathbury, the protagonist and narrator, is choosing the life of an excellent woman or if she is saddled with it. To use a contemporary phrase, it is about having a life, and this deceivingly gentle-seeming book is asking questions that are as rugged and significant as any asked in our less regulated times.
The comic genius of the novel is not that its heroine, the respectable and virginal and shabby-genteel Mildred Lathbury, is unwanted by her society, as I misunderstood when I was in graduate school, when I first read the novel. Rather, she is TOO much in demand, and not only is of great use to the church officials who want her to shine the brass of their decaying pews, but also of the confused married neighbors in her lodgings and even the few bachelors she knows (who subtly feel her out for her interest in marrying them--overtures which she always curtails). Although Mildred is puzzled by the work of the anthropologists she meets, she is herself too much of an anthropologist ever to commit to married life (or even sharing a room with another spinster friend).Read more ›
Barbara Pym is not a Jane Austen, and I don't mean that negatively, as she is worthy in her own right without the comparison. She is at least as observant of her time, its people and its customs as Jane was of hers. Seen through the eyes of Mildred Lathbury, this period of less than a year's span around 1951 or so contains momentous human events such as romance and disengagement, breakup and reconciliation, old friends revisited, new friends explored, new experiences, and the hopefulness of companionship and romance to come. Mildred imagines herself to have been in love once long before and the reader is sidetracked into wondering how she came to realize that she was not in love, even as she speculates on the types of men with whom she might now come to find herself in love. But, she seems to have given up on love and become reconciled to being over thirty and likely to remain unmarried forever.
There is a sort of grayness about Mildred's existence that she recognizes with some dissatisfaction, but has come to accommodate with resignation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mildred Lathbury is an “excellent woman”. Single, living alone in early 1950s England, she spends her days helping out at the local church, organizing the fêtes and jumble sales,... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Expat
no idea why it took so long to make this available in a kindle edition but very grateful. why is pym listed second as the author though?Published 1 month ago by Devon Bedford
A simple story line with and insight into the mind of the people in London.Published 1 month ago by geo49e
This is a review of the audiobook. Excellent women is a term applied to women in England who do volunteer work for churches and charitable organizations, and can be construed to be... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Upstate NY Music Fan
The reader, Jayne Entwistle, must be an actress because the characters all sound different. Her reading brought out nuances in Pym that I had never seen, the rhythms of Mrs. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mary DeForest
Her last novel. Sick with cancer as she finished it up, she died some months after it was published. Read morePublished 4 months ago by James Spindler
I read this for a book group. Although the cover of the book calls it a "high comedy," it was not perceived as such by the book group. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Nancy N. Moore
The boring life of boring people written so well that I kept reading. As much as I tried, after hearing that the protagonist was in her early 30s, I could never imagine her as a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by M. Coppedge