Okay, I am about to take a Pym break to get through some other books in the stack, but I will leave you for now with A Glass of Blessings, which looks at some common themes and ideas that Pym has worked through in her canon.
Wilmet Forsyth is a bored housewife. Her husband Rodney is a civil servant who is married to his work. They live with his mother Sybil, an attentive but independent companion. She becomes involved with her local parish and invests time and energy into the priests: Father Thames, Father Bode, and the handsome, enigmatic Father Ransome. She also contemplates rekindling her romance with her old love, Piers Longridge, even as someone else begins to pursue her. Her life becomes a comedy of misadventure and misunderstanding, just as acknowledged spinster Mary Beamish finds her own life turned upside down by a series of unexpected events.
The thing I enjoy about Barbara Pym is her capability to show misunderstanding and misadventure in a puckish, yet gentle light. She’s playful but not mean-spirited, and after the meanness and pettiness we endure in our lives and on the internet, it’s refreshing to read something a bit gentler. I also found an interesting commentary on the lives of women again. Since Wilmet is married but childless, her life is expected to be full and without complaint–yet what purpose does she serve? How can she be fulfilled with minor chores and pleasantries, when even those are considered to be “women’s work” and not worthy of comment? It’s a great analysis of sexism in twentieth-century culture.