Monday, March 11, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  Someone told me that this coming weekend is the North American Barbara Pym Society conference and , in addition to the normal festivities,  it is a celebration of her 100th birthday. I have never read a Barbara Pym novel but many of my friends are great fans of hers. Do you have a favorite Pym novel that I might begin with? Possible Pymian

Dear Possible Pymian,  The Pym Society  of Sea Cliff's members- the Hansmann-Kennedys and the DiPietros among others-will be attending the conference in full force this weekend. Every March during Harvard's spring break the Pym Society takes over the campus with lectures, dramatized readings, dinners, testimonials and general Pymian  good fun. This year's conference is sold out but do plan on attending next year. I would recommend any of her books, but a favorite of mine is one  of her earlier works: JANE AND PRUDENCE.  Set in both  1950's London and a small, unnamed village (strangely reminiscent of Sea Cliff?) , the novel tells the parallel stories of 42 year-old Jane, the kindhearted, brilliant but scattered wife of the clergyman Nicholas Cleveland , and Prudence, a  29 year-old  beautifully elegant single woman with a penchant for unfulfilling infatuations with married academicians.  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 !

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