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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

Excellent Women


Excellent Women Cover

ISBN13: 9780452267305
ISBN10: 0452267307
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $6.50!


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Excellent Women is probably the most famous of Barbara Pym's novels. The acclaim a few years ago for this early comic novel, which was hailed by Lord David Cecil as one of 'the finest examples of high comedy to have appeared in England during the past seventy-five years,' helped launch the rediscovery of the author's entire work. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman's daughter and a spinster in the England of the 1950s, one of those 'excellent women' who tend to get involved in other people's lives - such as those of her new neighbor, Rockingham, and the vicar next door. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest.

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naessa, October 22, 2014 (view all comments by naessa)
Mildred Lathbury is unmarried in her early thirties. She lives alone in 1950’s London and is active in her local Anglican church as part of a cadre of “excellent women” who organize the church bazars, man booths at the rummage sales and, of course, make and serve copious amounts of tea. The assumption is that these women have time and energy to devote to these activities since they are unmarried.

It’s not that Mildred has no potential suitors, but those who are available don’t quite measure up and she isn’t really sure if she needs or even wants marriage. Men are, after all, a lot of work. They have to be catered to; a wife’s needs are subordinate to those of her husband. Mildred’s quiet routine is upended when she finds herself drawn into the affairs of her unhappily married neighbors and a scheming widow makes designs on the unmarried vicar.

Barbara Pym’s works deserve far more attention than they get. In Excellent Women, she gets the balance between comedy and pathos exactly right. Pym is often compared to Austen, which doesn’t seem totally out of place. They both definitely turn a sharp, witty, often ironic, eye on their social microcosms. However, with Austen, a good match always equals a happy end. With Pym, there is decided ambivalence on whether such happy end is desirable or achievable.
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havi brooks, February 2, 2007 (view all comments by havi brooks)
My favorite Pym novel. I have read it at least twenty times and could quote large sections of it to you although you'd be better off curling up with a pot of tea and reading it yourself.

Excellent Women is a delicious depiction of a fairly quiet, not especially self-aware woman who has non-adventures and shares her meandering stream of consciousness thoughts in an absolutely unintentional but enormously enjoyable and clever way. Sweet little things happen to her, the other characters are a kick in the pants and the whole book is just perfectly done.

The "modern Jane Austin" appellation both fits and doesn't, the novel is perfectly charming and thoroughly enjoyable.
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Product Details

Pym, Barbara
Plume Books
New York, N.Y. :
Single women
Psychological fiction
Self-esteem in women
Psychological fiction, England
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Mass Market
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
7.62x5.24x.63 in. .49 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

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Product details 272 pages Plume Books - English 9780452267305 Reviews:
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