Wednesday, 31 December 2014

JANE AND PRUDENCE by Barbara Pym

So much did I enjoy EXCELLENT WOMEN that I dove right in to another Pym. While the last one was recommended by Philip Larkin, this one was recommended by Jilly Cooper. A more varied pair of admirers is hard to imagine. Though JANE AND PRUDENCE is a different story with different characters, it feels like a continuation of EXCELLENT WOMEN. In this case, the excellent woman is Jane, who is married to a vicar, and doing rather a poor job of being a vicar's wife. Her best friend is Prudence, who is - horrors, horrors - unmarried. The story follows the attempts of Jane to set up Prudence with a local bachelor.

The novel is charming and comic. Here is Jane to Prudence:
'You've got a new dressing-gown,' she said, trying to keep out of her tone the accusing note that women are apt to use to each other, as if one had no business to spend one's own money on nice clothes.
As with her previous novel, love does not conquer all. The bachelor is gobbled up by another, more aggressive, spinster, and Prudence ends up in a sort of lukewarm alternative relationship.

I didn't quite enjoy this novel as much as the previous one, perhaps because I am now a bit more familiar with Pym's tricks, but it was still enormously enjoyable. It felt a bit more like absorption than reading.

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