Dear Great Book Guru, This weekend, a number of my friends and I will be attending a literary conference at Harvard’s Law School on the British author Barbara Pym. They are huge fans of hers, but I have never read any of her novels. Would you suggest one to start my Pymian adventure?
Preparing for Pym
Dear Preparing for Pym, Like your friends, I too am a huge Pym fan. She has written about a dozen books - each a jewel to be read and reread many times. Her novels are about the exquisite loveliness of everyday life with each word, each gesture, each character treated with humor, care, and respect- offering gentle but frequently biting insights into the human condition. Her descriptions of food, clothing, and those daily rituals which consume and distract us, envelope her readers in a familiar yet unique world. This weekend’s conference at Harvard will be focusing on one novel in particular: THE SWEET DOVE DIED. Lenora, the central character, is a middle-aged, rather self-absorbed woman who spurns the devoted Humphrey for his twenty-four year-old nephew James. Lenore’s romantic overtures are thwarted when James turns first to Phoebe- a young woman his own age- and then to Ned, a visiting scholar from America. We watch in growing dismay as Lenore tries time and again to win James’s affection. A wonderful look into the mysteries of attraction and love- highly recommended!