Three comedies of manners set in postwar England by the New York Times–bestselling author of Excellent Women and “the rarest of treasures” (Anne Tyler).
Often characterized as the twentieth-century literary heiress to Jane Austen, and heralded by Phillip Larkin as “the most underrated novelist of the century,” Barbara Pym explored female friendship and the quiet yearnings of British middle-class life—not the least of which, unrequited love—with sharp wit and deep compassion for her characters. No wonder Eudora Welty called her work “sheer delight” and the New York Times raved, “her entire canon is a treat.”
A Glass of Blessings: Wilmet Forsyth is bored with her everyday routine: teatimes, local gossip, even with her husband, Rodney, a civil servant who dotes on her. But Wilmet’s conventional life takes a turn when she runs into the enigmatic brother of a close friend. Piers Longridge is a mystery Wilmet is determined to solve. Driven by a fantasy of romance, the sheltered, naïve Englishwoman sets out to seduce Piers—only to discover that he isn’t the man she thinks he is.
Some Tame Gazelle: Pym’s debut novel invites readers to “step into the Jane Austen–like lives of Harriet and Belinda Bede,” sisters who live together in a small English village (The Christian Science Monitor). Shy, sensible Belinda has been secretly in love with the married archdeacon of their church for thirty years. Meanwhile Belinda’s more confident younger sister, Harriet, is herself pursued by an Italian count whose proposals of marriage are always graciously declined. But it’s a new arrival in their midst who has everyone talking. For now, in this poignant novel of unrequited love, that is enough.
Jane and Prudence: Jane Cleveland and Prudence Bates were friends at Oxford, but now lead very different lives. Jane is married to a vicar in a proper English parish with a daughter she adores. Prudence lives in London, career-minded and fiercely independent—until Jane decides she should be married. Jane has the perfect husband in mind. What follows is a delightfully trenchant story of manners, morals, family, and female bonding that redefines the social novel for a new generation.