Monday, 28 March 2011

Miss Pym Disposes*

pym tame gazelleJust finished another Barbara Pym – this time it was “Some Tame Gazelle”

It was a large print edition. Leics libraries supply of ‘regular’ BPs is rather limited. They obviously feel that her books will be more popular with myopic readers

It is another one which left me smiling, and often laughing out loud.

A gentler read, “reminding us of the heartbreaking silliness of life” says the novelist Anne Tyler.

The plot centres on two spinster sisters, the Misses Bede, who are at the hub of parish life in their little village. Harriet is plump, elegant and jolly, and loves fussing over the new curates. Her sister Belinda has silently harboured affection for the Archdeacon for 30 years since their student days. He is married to the dire Agatha. Two older single men, a librarian and a Bishop come into their lives and disturb the peace. But all ends happily.

There were some wonderful quotes…

“It isn’t right” thought Belinda indignantly “for a clergyman’s wife to get her clothes from the best houses. She ought to be a comfortable, shabby sort of person, in an old tweed coat and skirt and skirt or a sagging..suit. Her hats should be shapeless and of no particular style and colour. Like my gardening hat”

garden hat

Well that’s told me, then!

The Archdeacon had taken pleasure in making a selection of books for [the Bishop’s] bedside table…a volume of sermons…Beowulf...Poems of Mrs Hemans, an Icelandic grammar, and as a concession to the Bishop’s connection with Africa, a particularly dull anthropological work…The Bishop would naturally want thrillers, the clergy always did, he found – but he was keeping his own supply locked up in his study.

abc book

Well, yes, Bob does enjoy a good thriller.

[The curate] had that evening preached a most successful sermon…on the text “We heard of the same at Ephrata and found it in the wood”

Nope – I think it is fair to say that neither Bob nor I have ever taken that somewhat obscure text into the pulpit for exposition! [It is from Psalm 132 btw] I feel it would be something of a challenge to get a meaty three-point sermon out of such a verse.


Anyway, if you enjoy BP and haven’t read this one, do try it. I somehow feel her portrayal of Anglican ladies is more accurate than Jodie Picoult’s portrayal of Amish women.

*Miss Pym Disposes is actually the title of a detective novel by Josephine Tey – another of my favourite authors.


  1. Somehow I cant imagine you in an old tweed suit or a sagging skirt!

  2. The outfit sounds like a description of my old French teacher!
    Jane x

  3. Angela - photos sorted over on my blog - hopefully!

    Thanks so much for the lovely giveaway - I was so thrilled with it! I used some of the shampoo last night - I can tell you, my bath was lovely!

  4. Wonderful review. This sounds like something I'd enjoy!



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