a glass of blessings/no fond return of love, by barbara pym

We’re back in the first person. Wilmet, the narrator of Glass, is the smuggest and most unpleasant of Pym’s heroines. I should confess to my own feelings of unpleasant smugness when she gets her (surprisingly progressive) comeuppance.

I’m hugely enjoying the continuity in the Pym universe. Wilmet is Archdeacon Hoccleve’s distant cousin. She and her friend Rowena knew Rocky Napier in Italy, and Wilmet’s husband Rodney has a dalliance with Prudence. Best of all, Rowena reads to Wilmet out of a magazine, and what she reads is Catherine Oliphant’s fictionalized account of the moussaka scene.

But the weirdest moment by far in Glass is when *I* show up in it.

I thought he might be a colonial, perhaps a New Zealander. I remembered clever moody passionate girls, like Katherine Mansfield, striving to break away from the narrowness of their environment, almost nineteenth century Russian in their yearnings, hating the traditional English Christmas in the middle of summer and the sentimental attitude toward the Mother Country.

Since women like me are represented in English literature with considerably less frequency than most breeds of dog, it always comes as a bit of a shock.

Austen parallel: Mansfield Park. (It’s “about ordination.”)

Dulcie, the protagonist of Fond, is a tragic figure because she lives in a world without Google. Her ability to Googlestalk before the fact is both impressive and creepy. She gets one of the best proposal-rejection scenes so far. I was starting to think that this novel took place outside the Pymiverse until Dulcie ran into Wilmet at a castle.

Austen parallel: Dulcie thinks she’s in Persuasion, but I think she’s in Northanger Abbey.

This marks the break in Pym’s career. She was bumped off the midlist after Fond and didn’t get anything published for another eighteen years. A good time for me to take a break too, I think.

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