Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Intro: A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym

"I suppose it must have been the shock of hearing the telephone ring, apparently in the church, that made me turn my head and see Piers Longridge in one of the side aisles behind me. It sounded shrill and particularly urgent against the music of the organ, and it was probably because I had never before heard a telephone ringing in church that my thoughts were immediately distracted, so that I found myself wondering where it could be and whether anyone would answer it. I imagined the little bent woman in the peacock blue hat who acted as verger going into the vestry and picking up the receiver gingerly, if only to put an end to the loud unsuitable ringing. She might say that Father Thames was engaged at the moment and not available; but surely the caller ought to have known that, for it was St. Luke's day, the patronal festival of the church, and this lunchtime Mass was one of the services held for people who worked in the offices near by or perhaps for the idle ones like myself who had been too lazy to get up for an earlier service."
A Glass of Blessings
by Barbara Pym

With a style immediately recognizable as Barbara Pym, I quickly settled into her 1958 novel, A Glass of Blessings. Open Road Media recently released several of Pym's novels in ebook format to celebrate her upcoming centenary. I received a review copy through NetGalley.

Have you read Barbara Pym? What do you think of this intro?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.



35 comments:

  1. I like it! Now I really want to know about that phone call...and I haven't read this author, but I'm going to check her out.

    Here's MY TUESDAY MEMES POST

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I think you would like Pym's novels... cozy, very English, with parish life often figuring prominently. Thanks for visiting.

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  2. I love your choice! I've read 2 Barbara Pym books in the past with one of my book clubs and we all enjoyed them. Your post reminds me of how much I like this author. I must read more Barbara Pym! I didn't know that some of her novels are now being released in ebook format. Wonderful news!

    Here's my FCFPTO pick: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2013/02/first-chapter-first-paragraph-tuesday.html

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    1. Catherine - This is my 4th Pym novel, and certainly won't be my last. I think availability in ebook format will help more readers discover her work.

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  3. I received this from NetGalley too, but I was (foolishly?) saving it for Thomas' Pym in June reading month. Perhaps I'd better download it now as you've posted about it with excitement. Plus, I've never read a Barbara Pym novel though I own Excellent Women.

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    1. Bellezza - I have Some Tame Gazelle tucked away for the June event! I'm new to NetGalley (this is my first download) so wasn't sure if I should wait until them. Still trying to figure out those rules ;-)

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  4. I'll have to look -- I thought I got a different Pym from NetGalley? I love her books -- read them all, a long time ago, and am grateful to Thomas for letting us know about the centenary. Also love the vintage glimpse of a phone ringing in church (probably not such a rare occurrence today).

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    1. Audrey - Perhaps more than one is available through NetGalley? Must check on that. This is the fourth novel I've read - Quartet in Autumn is the only one to have a decidedly different feel. I love Pym and will read them all eventually.

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  5. I read this novel in the fall with an online reading group, a subgroup of the Trollope reading group at Yahoo. At first the many references to arts and crafts and cooking of the day kept me searching like crazy for things like Jacobean fabric design. I was online viewing food, recipes for lots of food, (Gentleman's Relish, Dundee Cake), clothing (musquash cape), crafts (Toby jug), art (Grinling Gibbons "decorations"), and had to look up one wine, Tio Pepe, a Spanish sherry. Each of these examples fits into a group of similar objects that repeat as a category, and Pym offers many types of objects that sort into related categories.

    This surface, decorative aspect of the novel contrasts with the the heroine's quest for meaning through male-female relationships, a theme that had me reading Jung and Freud before I was done. This is one of the best Pyms I have read. Hope you enjoy it.

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    1. Fay - Thanks so much for your comment. I think it's very easy to skim the surface and just enjoy the story, but it's fascinating to delve just a little deeper into Pym's world. I'm about a third of the way through now and can certainly see why you consider this one of her best. I have very high hopes for the rest of the book!

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    1. Kelley - I think that would be the right decision ;-)

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  7. I've never read any of her books but that paragraph is intriguing enough to me to try one though.

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    1. Darlene - This would be perfect when you feel like a cozy read.

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  8. The author's name rings a bell but I can't place a book title or plot in my head. I like the way she drew me into the story and made me wannt to read more.

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    1. Margot - Pym is the queen of English country village/parish life :-)

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  9. Yes, I've read An Unsuitable Attachment by Barabara Pym and liked it a lot. I'd keep going. Here's Mine

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    1. Paulita - I haven't read that one yet, but hope to read all of her books eventually.

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  10. I like her writing, characterization of the speaker. I'd like read Pym.

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    1. Harvee - Pym is a delight. Hope you get to read her soon.

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  11. I've long wanted to read Pym. This sounds like something I'll really enjoy. Maybe even better with an audiobook CD while driving. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Arti - Pym may not be available on audio yet. I'll have to look into that...

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  12. I like the intro and would keep reading. Your reviews of her work is the reason that I want to try something by this author!

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    1. Staci - Pym is like a cozy mystery ... with church/parish life instead of a mystery.

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  13. I love this intro and am curious for more. I've been wanting try Pym for a while now. Hope you end up loving this one, as I think it might be a good one for me to start with.

    Thanks so much for joining us this week; I appreciate it.

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    1. Diane - This would be a good place to start with Barbara Pym... and it's available on NetGalley now.

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  14. I have not read Barbara Pym but judging from your tease as well as the other comments, that's my loss. I'll keep my eyes out for this one.

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    1. Sim - Hope you get a chance to try one of her novels!

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  15. I have not read this author, but do like this intro.

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    1. Nise' - I think you might like this one!

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  16. I read this book recently and really liked it -- much better than I liked Excellent Women, the only other Barbara Pym I've read. The narrator of A Glass of Blessings is such a fascinating character.

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    1. Elizabeth - I really like it so far, too. Wilmet seems to be deeper, or more complex, than Mildred was in Excellent Women.

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  17. What are we? Reading twins? I love Pym, as you know -- and now I see you have Nancy Mitford in your "reading now" list. I want to go back and read the Mitfords ... maybe I will this summer. Or after I buy a lottery ticket and win.

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  18. I, rather shamefully, have not read Barbara Pym yet. This intro makes me want to change that though. I love this feature of your blog!

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  19. I like the opening and would definitely keep reading.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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