- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries; 1st ed edition (January 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1559212284
- ISBN-13: 978-1559212281
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Few Green Leaves Paperback – January 1, 1999
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"All the people in A Few Green Leaves are completely realistic; the sort of people we meet every day of our lives and never particularly notice...Miss Pym's art endows them with a significance which they could never possess in life." -- Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Barbara Pym, who died on January 11, 1980, spent the last few years of her life in an Oxfordshire village, sharing a small cottage with her sister. In 1977, after sixteen years in the wilderness she published QUARTET IN AUTUMN. It was treated as a major literary event, as was her next novel, THE SWEET DOVE DIED.
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Top customer reviews
The women in Pym's books fall into three categories. There are the self-effacing good girls like Mildred in EXCELLENT WOMEN and Ianthe in AN UNSUITABLE ATTACHMENT. There are the passionate, eccentric mis-fits - Jane in JANE AND PRUDENCE, Catherine in LESS THAN ANGELS, Sophia in AN UNSUITABLE ATTACHMENT, and Dulcie in NO FOND RETURN OF LOVE. And there are a few absurd femmes fatale like Prudence in JANE AND PRUDENCE and Leonora in THE SWEET DOVE DIED.
Emma doesn't FIT. Plain and generally poorly dressed, she's certainly not a man-hunter and yet men are comfortable with her, even if they sometimes take her for granted. She's not selfish or cruel, but she has too much sense of self to be a door-mat. She's aware that others have expectations of her, but doesn't worry about meeting them. She's intelligent, but remote and more likely to observe other people in a slightly clinical way than to get involved in their problems.
It's reasonable to suppose that Pym was already ill when she wrote this book and possibly knew that she hadn't long left. I wonder if the character of Emma is her summing up of how she saw herself and her life - a professional woman whose love affairs never led to marriage. While Emma isn't as entertaining as some of Pym's characters, she's more realistic.
This mild tale of a woman moving to a small village, re-connecting with an old boyfriend and meeting a new man won't have you on the edge of your seat, but it has Pym's charm and sly wit and some outrageous characters. Mostly it's of value because of the insight it gives into Pym's personality and her feelings as she looked back over her life. Pym fans should make an effort to find a copy and read it. Even Pym's second-string books are better than most writers can ever hope to achieve.
Then I re-read them. I was floored. The writing is right, I am not sure how else to explain it. The characters live their lives in smaller English towns and villages, they do this or that yet it is all there. Barbara Pym captures her people in their lives and their thoughts and writes with wit, respect and affection for them. It seems quite a few of her books have recently been re-issued. I bought them all and am reading them, one at a time, with great pleasure.
Far be it for me to compare any writer to Jane Austen but there it is.