Excellent Women by Barbara Pym audiobook

Excellent Women

By Barbara Pym
Read by Jayne Entwistle

Blackstone Publishing 9780143104872
8.68 Hours 1
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Excellent Women is one of Barbara Pym’s richest and most amusing high comedies. This is Barbara Pym’s world at its funniest. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman’s daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those excellent women, the smart, supportive, repressed women whom men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors—anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door—the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.

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Summary

Summary

A Washington Post Best Audiobook of 2016

A Slate Magazine Pick for the Best Audiobooks of 2016

An iBooks bestseller in Literature and Fiction

A Literary Hub Pick of 5 Mid-Century Commonwealth Writers You Should Read

Excellent Women is one of Barbara Pym’s richest and most amusing high comedies. This is Barbara Pym’s world at its funniest.

Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman’s daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those excellent women, the smart, supportive, repressed women whom men take for granted.

As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors—anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door—the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Oh, happy day! One of Barbara Pym’s subtly comic novels has finally been produced in an audio version. Pym has been called heir to Jane Austen, her observations possessing a similar undercurrent of wicked irony…Jayne Entwistle delivers Mildred’s story in a proper, well-brought-up English voice—reticent, obliging, sometimes wondering—making this production a perfect joy.” Washington Post (audio review)
“[One of] the finest examples of high comedy to have appeared in England during the past seventy-five years.” Lord David Cecil, New York Times bestselling author
“[Pym] is a shrewd observer of a certain kind of middle-class woman, no longer young and not quite beautiful, whom society finds it easy to overlook. And she is just as shrewd an observer of the people that these women, vigilant and perceptive, themselves observe….[in] Excellent Women, Pym’s most famous and most perfect novel.” New York Times
“A startling reminder that solitude may be chosen and that a lively, full novel can be constructed entirely within the precincts of that regressive virtue, feminine patience.” New Yorker
“Pym brings Lathbury into sharp focus, and we come away with a great sympathy and affection for her. Are you interested, as I am, in the complicated emotional dynamics of a small town church jumble sale? It’s Barbara Pym to the rescue.” Literary Hub
“Her most widely admired work…Cleanly crafted…A special treat for lovers of the high, wry style.” Kirkus Reviews
“The fabulous Barbara Pym…is as witty and observant as Jane Austen and is very acute on male vanity.” Paula Byrne, author of Kick
“What stays longest with the reader once the amusement, the satire, the alert ear, and exact eye have all been acknowledged? Partly it is the underlying loneliness of life…the absence of self-pity, the scrupulousness of one’s relations with others.” Philip Larkin, English poet and novelist

Reviews

Reviews

by David12 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

A very entertaining comedy of manners

Excellent women is a term applied to women in England who do volunteer work for churches and charitable organizations, and can be construed to be a bit condescending. Mildred Lathbury is a single, very intelligent middle-aged woman in her early 30s living in a small apartment with a shared bathroom in London. She is the daughter of a clergyman, and does much work for her church. Her new neighbors are Helena and Rocky Napier. Helena is a glamorous anthropologist, and her handsome husband, Rocky (whose given name is Rockingham), is a charming man who has returned from military duty in Italy. Mildred finds herself attracted to Rocky, as many women do, until they realize that he is really quite shallow underneath it all. Helena moved in before Rocky’s return, and had become interested in a fellow anthropologist named Everard Bone. However, Everard does not feel the same way. Other major characters are Julian Malory, the local vicar, and his sister Winifred, who lives with and keeps house for him. Mildred is close friends with both of them. An attractive widow whose late husband was also a vicar moves into a spare apartment in their house, and sets her sights on Julian, much to Winifred’s dismay. This synopsis sounds a bit like a soap opera, but there is much more to it than that. It really is a comedy of manners. It is not plot-heavy, but more character-driven, and is propelled by the ins-and-outs of everyday life and relationships. The writing is very funny, in the understated, wry sort of way that the British do so well. Ms. Pym has much insight into human nature and makes even the most minor characters seem real. Narrator Jayne Entwistle does an excellent job. She does many accents of different regions and classes, and at times sounds like Judi Dench, and at other times like the late, great actress Joan Greenwood, who was known for her husky voice.

Author

Author Bio: Barbara Pym

Author Bio: Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym (1913–1980) was an English novelist educated at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Her novels, on the surface a comedy of manners of village life, looked deeply at the relationships between men and women. When in 1977 the Times Literary Supplement (London) asked critics to name the most underrated authors of the previous seventy-five years, Barbara Pym was the only one named by two critics. After sixteen years between published novels, her Quartet in Autumn was treated as a major literary event and was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction/Literary
Runtime: 8.68
Audience: Adult
Language: English