Saturday, February 12, 2011

Less than Angels

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.


Grand Purl Baa said...

Hmmm. I go to bed to sleep. No TV, no reading. Just get me my head on that there pillow with eyes tight shut. Sometimes I go to bed with the idea of waking the bloke up, but mostly I go to bed to sleep.

kristieinbc said...

I love hearing about new authors! I am off to the Amazon site to read more about her books. Thanks for bringing her to our attention.

JoAnn said...

Barbara Pym is a recent discovery for me, too, and I can't wait to read more! Will add this title to my list...

Karenlibrarian said...

This is the only Pym my library doesn't have! I may have to buy a copy after my book-buying ban ends. And I do have a birthday coming up. . . I need to find out what happened to MIldred!

Rochester Reader said...

Hello and thank you for visiting my blog recently :-) I read 'Excellent Women' and really enjoyed it and this book sounds great. Thanks for the lovely review and evocative nighttime rituals. I don't have any at the moment, but sometimes I might resort to a little reading and a cup of earl-grey before bed... oh and a biscuit or jam on rye.