Barbara Pym

[The woman] paused and seemed to take a deep breath. ‘You see,’ she declared. ‘I am Tom Mallow’s aunt.’ Catherine’s first instinct was to burst out laughing. She wondered why there was something slightly absurd about aunts; perhaps it was because one thought of them as dear, comfortable creatures, somehow lacking in dignity and prestige.

“[The woman] paused and seemed to take a deep breath. ‘You see,’ she declared. ‘I am Tom Mallow’s aunt.’ Catherine’s first instinct was to burst … Read More

Oh, this coming back to an empty house,’ Rupert thought, when he had seen her safely up to her door. People – though perhaps it was only women – seemed to make so much of it. As if life itself were not as empty as the house one was coming back to.

“Oh, this coming back to an empty house,’ Rupert thought, when he had seen her safely up to her door. People – though perhaps it … Read More

She set about preparing her supper. It would have to be one of those classically simple meals, the sort that French peasants are said to eat and that enlightened English people sometimes enjoy rather self-consciously – a crusty French loaf, cheese, and lettuce and tomatoes from the garden. Of course there should have been wine and a lovingly prepared dressing of oil and vinegar, but Dulcie drank orange squash and ate mayonnaise that came from a bottle.

“She set about preparing her supper. It would have to be one of those classically simple meals, the sort that French peasants are said to … Read More

Perhaps I need some shattering experience to awaken and inspire me, or at least to give me some emotion to recollect in tranquility. But how to get it? Sit here and wait for it or go out and seek it? . . . I expect it will be sit and wait.

“Perhaps I need some shattering experience to awaken and inspire me, or at least to give me some emotion to recollect in tranquility. But how … Read More

Oh, but it was splendid the things women were doing for men all the time, thought Jane. Making them feel, perhaps sometimes by no more than a casual glance, that they were loved and admired and desired when they were worthy of none of these things – enabling them to preen themselves and puff out their plumage like birds and bask in the sunshine of love, real or imagined, it didn’t matter which.

“Oh, but it was splendid the things women were doing for men all the time, thought Jane. Making them feel, perhaps sometimes by no more … Read More

You know Mildred would never do anything wrong or foolish. I reflected a little sadly that this was only too true and hoped I did not appear too much that kind of person to others. Virtue is an excellent thing and we should all strive after it, but it can sometimes be a little depressing.

“You know Mildred would never do anything wrong or foolish. I reflected a little sadly that this was only too true and hoped I did … Read More