Less than Angels by Barbara Pym
I think it's important to have small comforts in life, particularly at bedtime. I am always intrigued by people's night-time rituals. When I was a child it was always fun staying with friends and seeing what their families did. Little friend Deborah's Dad, known to me as Uncle Warren, would bring each child (including guests) a cup of hot cocoa at bedtime and would soothe ruffled feathers, sibling rivalries and over-excited munchkins with firm but loving admonitions. Another friend would literally rock herself to sleep. She urged me to try it but I found it too exhausting. My mother always had a Georgette Heyer by the bed - somewhat guiltily - but it did the trick after a hard day of being a domestic goddess.
I think I have found my "blanky" in Barbara Pym. God's in his Heaven (or hers) and all's well with the world when I read Barbara Pym. I am using her books as relief from some of my more worthy and good for you (like multi-grain bread) reads.
Less than Angels is my second Barbara Pym. I was delighted to find a reference to some of the characters from my first - Excellent Women - but it is not necessary to have read it to follow the story. It just deals with a different group - a bit like those multi-layered films that are so popular these days like Short Cuts - where storylines slightly intersect.
A friend from bookclub has lent me four books from her Barbara Pym collection and lest I "forget" to return them, I assiduously returned this as soon as I had finished, so I'm sorry but I can't quote from it.
All I need say to encourage you to read it is that I laughed out loud and snorted on several occasions. Ms Pym has that marvellous ability to describe characters forced to live closely together in straitened circumstances - usually family members...and the way they carve out a modicum of privacy, self-determination and/or sanity in shared households. Her descriptions of the two sisters living together with one sister's adult son and daughter is classic. I'll leave it to you to guess which sister I wanted to smack on frequent occasions.
There's so much more I could say but doubtless others have waxed enthusiastic before me...if you haven't read Barbara Pym yet, don't waste another moment.
What's your nighttime ritual? It's a bit too hot for cocoa in Queensland at the moment.