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Excellent Women

By Barbara Pym and A. N. Wilson
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym and A. N. Wilson digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

Excellent Women is probably the most famous of Barbara Pym's novels. The acclaim a few years ago for this early comic novel, which was hailed by Lord David Cecil as one of 'the finest examples of high comedy to have appeared in England during the past seventy-five years,' helped launch the rediscovery of the author's entire work. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman's daughter and a spinster in the England of the 1950s, one of those 'excellent women' who tend to get involved in other people's lives - such as those of her new neighbor, Rockingham, and the vicar next door. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest.

18 Reviews

Expressionless Face“The ending was disappointing… decent summer read though”
Reviewed in:Read With Padma
Relatable charactersEasy to readRealistic settingInformative
“في البداية هذه الرواية ليست مبنية على الأحداث والحبكة بل على الشخصيات الرئيسية، مما يلزم احد امرين لتستمر القصة، إما ان تتطور الشخصيات مع الأحداث و إما ان تكون شخصيات مميزة وفريدة لتعطي بعد مختلف للأحداث، لكن باربرا بيم اختارت ان تجعلها رواية عن امرأة في الثلاثينيات عزباء وعلاقاتها الاجتماعية مع الجيران و رواد الكنيسة وقسيسهم.. فقط. ماذا عن المرأة الممتازة؟ في الواقع احتجت لقراءة سيرة الكاتبة لمعرفة رأيها بالضبط عن المرأة الممتازة، من هي؟ من الواضح أن الكاتبة لم تجعل هذا السؤال محور الرواية لأن تصور المجتمع عن المرأة الممتازة وضعته المؤلفة دون اي رأي مخالف له او مختلف عنه، حتى رأي جارتها هيلين لم يؤخذ بجدية - ربما لأنها المرأة الناجحة علمياً الفاشلة منزلياً لذلك ليست مؤهله للحديث عن المرأة الممتازة!؟ - إذن ما محور الرواية؟ حياة الآنسة ميلدريد بين قدوم الجارة الجديدة و رحيلها..، ابرز مشكلات الرواية : شخصية البطلة ضعيفة إلى حد مقزز : "Dear Mildred,’ he smiled, ‘you are not the kind of person to expect things as your right even though they may be.’" لن يكون صعب على القارئ إدراك ضعف البطلة من الفصل الأول حيث تظهر ملامح التطفل و الغيرة من حياة جارتها هيلين وإن كانت لا تصرح بذلك، ثم إنها لا تستطيع رفض طلب و تضع نفسها في خدمة الآخرين وإن لم يطلبوا، وهذا ليس ضعفاً الضعف ان تشعر انك مجبر رغم انك لست كذلك، البطلة أيضا معجبة بزوج جارتها و زميلها، بل هي لا تتأمل ولا تنظر بعين الجمال إلا للشخصيات الرجالية.. لا يعني هذا ان الشخصيات النسائية منافسة لها لكنهن مصدر المقارنة في ذهن البطلة.. شخصية مهزوزة بشكل متعب التطرق إلى النقص في صورة الرجل في المجتمع جاء متأخر جداً جداً : " He closed his eyes and lay back in his chair. ‘I really couldn’t have borne to have got lunch myself.’ ‘Oh, it was nothing,’ I said, feeling that no other answer could be given. ‘Anybody else would have done the same.’ And perhaps even a less attractive man than Rocky would have a devoted woman to prepare a meal for him on the day his wife left him. A mother, a sister, an aunt, even.. " بعدما أطالت المؤلفة في الكتابة عن صورة المرأة الممتازة في المجتمع جاءت لتجعل البطلة واعية بامتيازات الرجل في المجتمع.. لكن هذا الوعي لن ينتج شيء. النهاية : لم اتوقع نهاية ملفته لأن مثل تلك النهايات لا تأتي من روايات هشه إلا اني لم اتخيلها بهذا السوء "Nobody thought anything of it or even noticed when her head jerked up again and she looked about her with unseeing eyes, wondering for the moment where she was. After all, she was only the President’s wife, and she always went to sleep anyway." ختاماً لو كان للعمل قيمة فهي القيمة التاريخية له، بحيث تسلط الضوء على فئة من المجتمع الانجليزي في خمسينات القرن الماضي.”
“A delight in book form. I have thoroughly enjoyed diving into this quaint world of Englishness, quiet parish life and casual yet intimate relationships. What an escape. This hits on all technical aspects from good writing to good plotting and pacing, as well as on entertainment and enjoyment factors. I will certainly be heading to more of Barbara Pym's work in the future. What she seems to do well is perceptively capture platonic relationships and friendships within a community. Often, it is what's left unsaid. Pym treats all her characters with delicacy and respect, it's hard not to fall in love with not only the setting and people she has created but the author herself, for being capable of achieving what she's achieved here (no mean feat). A wonderful treat of a read and a perfect ending line.”
“July 2022 #Pemberlittens Chapter a Day Readalong @Crinoline_Laphroaig #excellentwomenandboiledpotatoes • #StoryGraph: fiction classics reflective slow-paced 231 pages | first published 1952 I am not built to do a chapter-a-day group read because at some point (early on) I just read the whole dang book. Apparently, I lack self-control. From the introduction: It is this bleak Chekhovian question which lies at the heart of Pym’s comedy. After fifty years of social change, there are still ‘Barbara Pym’ characters to be met in real life, people trying to maintain a bit of dignity in the midst of humdrum lives, and deriving harmless amusement from the foibles of others, and from trivia—imagining the lives, for example, of those who place small ads in the Church Times.”

About Barbara Pym

A writer from the age of sixteen, Barbara Pym has been acclaimed as "the most underrated writer of the century" (Philip Larkin). Pym’s substantial reputation evolved through the publication of six novels from 1950 to 1961, then resumed in 1977 with the publication of Quartet in Autumn and three other novels. She died in 1980.

A. N. Wilson is the author of biographies on Jesus, Milton, Tolstoy, C. S. Lewis, and Dante. His acclaimed histories, The Victorians and God’s Funeral, have made him an authority on Victorian-era Great Britain. A former columnist for the London Evening Standard, he now contributes to the Times Literary SupplementNew Statesman, the Spectator, the Observer and the Daily Mail.

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