For the first day of Barbara Pym reading week, hosts Thomas and Amanda have shared how they met Barbara Pym. Which made me think about how and when it was that I first read Pym.
As far as I remember, I'd been aware of Barbara Pym as a name. But I was under the impression she was a mid-century British writer, probably of little interest to me -- why I made this assumption, I am not quite certain, as I do read quite a bit of both mid-century and British women's novels.
In any case, there were two elements that made me decide to read my first Barbara Pym, a few years ago now. First was the general influence of so many bookish blogging friends mentioning her novels, continuously, in an offhand manner that suggested that of course one must also be a fan. More specifically, the influence of Kerry at Pickle Me This, a member of the Barbara Pym Society! If so many people who I loved to read and take advice from agreed, then it must be time to pick up a novel. I had No Fond Return of Love in the house so I started with that one. And quickly realized that this was a wonderful author who was going to become a favourite, which she has.
A secondary impulse toward reading Pym came from a stranger direction. I am, despite his enormous popularity, a fan of Alexander McCall Smith, having read every single book in his multitudinous output. I can't recall where I read that he is a Pym fan, and that he's read all of her work and recommends it, too. But, wondering about it, I went into my first Pym read with that in mind. It was fairly easy to see her influence on him, actually: in some of the phrasing, in some of the focus on domestic detail, certainly in the observation of people and their personal oddities. My discovery of Pym has added extra depth and a resonance to my McCall Smith reading.
So, I am at that lovely stage in which I have read just about half of her work, and have nearly half left unread. I've managed to collect up all of her novels excepting three titles, which I'm still on the hunt for. And I'm on the hunt for Some Tame Gazelle which is somewhere in my house, I swear, though I was unable to rustle it up for this photo:
Scheduled Reading for this Week:
An Unsuitable Attachment
A Few Green Leaves
A Very Private Eye