Dear Great Book Guru, Friends of mine are members of the Barbara Pym Society of Sea Cliff, and this weekend they are headed to the annual Pym convocation at St Hilda’s College at Oxford University. They are presenting a paper on one of her novels about two women whose lives intersect. They’ll focus on the changing views of marriage that Pym offers. I’d like to read this novel before they return. Any thoughts? Potential Pymite
Dear Potential Pymite, JANE AND PRUDENCE is one of Pym’s earlier novels and a great favorite of mine. Set in both 1950’s London and a small, unnamed village (strangely reminiscent of Sea Cliff), the novel tells the parallel stories of forty-one year old Jane, the kindhearted, brilliant but scattered wife of the clergyman Nicholas Cleveland, and Prudence, a twenty-nine year-old beautifully elegant single woman with a penchant for unfulfilling infatuations with married academicians. Throughout the novel each woman weighs the joys and intricacies of her “lot in life.” As in all Pym’s novels, the plot line is secondary to the character development and we soon become intimately involved in the lives of these two women. There is much humor and insight in this novel - highly recommended!