Book Review by Ms. Onions: Jane and Prudence & Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym
I do love Barbara Pym, though I’d be the first to admit that she is not everyone’s cup of tea, so I was delighted to find new copies of her books in the library recently. Pym writes about village life in England in the 1950s. The action (not that there is much) usually centres around the parish church and the ladies who spend their lives volunteering and vying with each other for the attentions of the men who run it.
Post-war food rationing is still in place and there is much discussion of what to have to eat, particularly if the curate is coming to tea. Will he eat sardines? Or would he prefer a nice lightly boiled egg? Can the local butcher be cajoled into finding some liver or kidneys to make a nice pie? I know it sounds horribly trivial, but that is rather the point. Pym writes about the small lives of her characters with such sympathy and wit, that you can’t help but get caught up in the minutiae of their day-to-day dramas. She is often likened to Jane Austen, which, perhaps, is a bit of a stretch, but her gentle irony and light mockery of these well-meaning characters does make for delightful reading.