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
Perhaps I should read Pym as well. I'm a fan of McCall's The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series (in spite of its enormous popularity). Isn't it great to find a new favorite author so close at hand. Thank you for sharing your discovery!ReplyDelete
I like to see the connections between Pym and so many other writers. McCall Smith's Scottish novels are most like, I think.Delete
Of course, McCall Smith's Isobel Dalhousie novels have a delightfully Pymmish quality themselves, although he substitutes applied ethics for religion. Your pile of Pyms looks very like mine, how nice!ReplyDelete
Good point: religion is exchanged for ethics, both are fascinating though! Isabel does remind me of a Pym heroine in many ways. I just need a few more books until I have a complete collection :)Delete
Fleur Fisher's blog is where I first heard about Barbara Pym; I read Excellent Women a few months ago and completely loved it. I can't wait to read more of her books. Maybe even this summer. Happy Reading!ReplyDelete
Excellent Women in next in line for me -- and I am planning a complete reread in proper order once I've read them all. Will have to trace the characters as they reappear throughout!Delete
I think that McCall Smith wrote an introduction to the Verigo Modern Classics edition of Excellent Women, in case you're looking to add to your Pym collection:) I'm at a similar place as you- I've read just enough of her books to know that I love her writing, but still have a lot left to look forward to reading.ReplyDelete
I'll have to look for that edition, to read the intro! I'm really enjoying Pym week, but will have fewer titles on the to-read stack when it's done...Delete
Coincidentally, my copy of Some Tame Gazelle took off for some weeks as well; I re-discovered it just in time to begin reading for this event (which I hadn't planned for properly *growls*). I'm intrigued by the editions of Green Leaves and Sweet Dove; I've seen (or have) some of the other editions you've snapped above, but these are new to me. Pym is one of those authors who makes me think of collecting double copies (but it was difficult enough finding singles in these parts...it took about ten years of snooping in second-hand shops).ReplyDelete
I still haven't found my Some Tame Gazelle!! I have gathered up all my copies in 2nd hand shops over time as well -- would like to have a more consistent collection but they are hard to come by! The Green Leaves & Sweet Dove ones have a cameo of sorts on the front, ie: this Green LeavesDelete