Reviews

‘an intriguing read . . . keeps the reader guessing . . . a lot to enjoy in this romp through the Cambridge Commons . . . a strong sense of place and a narrative style that is both energetic and engaging.’ [Dead Letters]

- Margaret Murphy, SHERLOCK

How Pleasant to Meet Miss Pym

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Every week book shops are closing, so I feared the worst last week in Tunbridge Wells when I saw that the windows of Hall’s book shop were painted white and the bookshelves outside were gone. I was delighted though when I got a bit closer and saw a notice that announced that the shop was only closed for renovations and would open again in November in time for Christmas. It’s one of my favourite second-hand book shops. I visit it every year and always find some treasures.

This year I thought I was going to escape from our few days in Sussex without buying anything – but no. On a visit to Petworth I saw the magic sign ‘second hand bookshop.’ I went up the stairs into a small room. No-one was there. A sign read ‘Hard backs £1 and paperbacks 50p.’ Five minutes later I was departing with Civil to Strangers, a collection of Barbara Pym’s unpublished fiction, including four short stories. It’s in excellent condition: a bargain. I have already read the short stories and they have reminded me why I have so much enjoyed her in the past. She is just so funny in such a understated English way. This is from ‘Farewell, Balkan Capital,’ set in WWII when Laura is reflecting on what her parents would have thought of the mingling of classes at the ARP centre, which she is rather enjoying. ‘Perhaps it was a good thing that they had not been spared to see it. Laura had always thought that the shock of a Labour government in office had hastened the Archdeacon’s end.’

Incidentally, this was the perfect place to buy a book by Barbara Pym. A National Trust house with a tea room and a second-hand-book shop: just the sort of place where you might find one of her characters.

3 Comments

  1. moira @ Clothes in Books
    July 30, 2014

    Another taste we share! I love Barbara Pym.

    Reply
  2. Lyn
    July 30, 2014

    Barbara Pym is one of my favourites. I’ve read CTS but it was a long time ago. I must reread the short stories at least. I picked up a lovely secondhand copy of A Lot To Ask, Pym’s diaries & letters edited by Hazel Holt, a while ago. There are always hidden gems in secondhand bookshops.

    Reply
  3. Christine Poulson
    August 1, 2014

    Thanks, Moira. I suspected as much! She is so good on clothes. And I am not surprised to hear that Barbara Pym is one of your favourites, too, Lyn. Excellent Women and A Glass of Blessings stand out for me. It is lovely to be part of this reading community.

    Reply

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