Excellent Women

Excellent Women

Book - 2008
Average Rating:
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Cover design by Orla Kiely

Mildred Lathbury is one of those 'excellent women' who is often taken for granted. She is a godsend, 'capable of dealing with most of the stock situations of life - birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sales, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather'. As such, though, she often gets herself embroiled in other people's lives - and especially those of her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks. One cannot take sides in these matters, though it is tricky, especially when Mildred, teetering on the edge of spinsterhood, has a soft spot for dashing young Rockingham Napier. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest and most touching.

Publisher: London : Virago, c2008.
ISBN: 9781844085262
1844085260
Branch Call Number: PYM
Characteristics: xii, 288 p. ; 21 cm.

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m
MissSnippy
Jul 20, 2017

Wonderful British spinster novel filled with quirky characters and the quiet observations of a curate's daughter who has to share the bathroom with more exciting neighbors.

LPL_MeredithW Jan 28, 2017

A quiet, wry, slice-of-life novel of manners about competent, observant Mildred Lathbury, a single woman who gets swept up in the intrigues of her neighbors in post WWII-England, I would recommend “Excellent Women” for fans of Jane Austen or Stella Gibbons. One word of warning: if you need a strong plot, this isn't the book for you. But if you're character-focused, definitely give this a try!

k
kathylou
Aug 18, 2016

dated? did you notice it was set in the 1950's?
I found it amusing, ironic, and truthful.

e
Eosos
Apr 01, 2015

An eminently likeable story with likeable characters and a nice setting. It was not an inspiring read for me but it is enjoyable to hang out with these characters in 1950s England for a few hours.

WVMLStaffPicks Nov 13, 2014

Every reader should have a favourite author to return to after weathering a succession of less than satisfactory new books. Mine is Barbara Pym. Read enough issues of Staff Picks and you will likely encounter most of her ten novels. This one is the story of the capable, unmarried Mildred, just past thirty and on her way to becoming an “excellent woman” in her London parish. An appreciative observer, she excels at getting involved in others’ lives instead of her own-until the charming, carefree Rocky moves into the apartment downstairs. Once again Pym’s comic flair and eye for the absurdities of human behaviour bring to centre stage those individuals usually regarded as too insignificant for fiction.

v
vickder
Oct 08, 2014

I wanted to like this book but it felt very dated and the characters did not interest me.

e
Evilida
May 28, 2014

I love all of Barbara Pym's novels. Her novels are witty, funny, perceptive and kind-spirited. (This kind spirit this generosity towards ALL her characters, is where she differs from Jane Austen, who tends to be much too fond of her main characters and too unpleasantly judgemental of all others.) Barbara Pym is a hidden treasure. You don't have to be a fan of romances to enjoy them. They "work" just as well as deliciously observant social portraits of a particular time and place

New reader to Pym. What a treat. Truly a novel of manners but of more recent times. In 100 year people, who want to understand the inestimable social changes after WWII, will read Pym and get a micro sample of life of women when men were scarce and spinsterhood ceased to become a curse.

m
macierules
Dec 13, 2012

Strangely, this book didn't seem dated to me. The concept of "excellent" women is still alive today, including several of them in my own family.

hgeng63 Sep 10, 2012

If you've never read Barbara Pym before, this is the one to start with! The Jane Austen of 1950's Britain.

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