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Download A Few Green Leaves / Barbara Pym. epub

by Barbara Pym

Vintage paperback
Download A Few Green Leaves / Barbara Pym. epub
ISBN: 0060805498
ISBN13: 978-0060805494
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Classics
Author: Barbara Pym
Language: English
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; First Printing edition (November 1981)
ePUB size: 1215 kb
FB2 size: 1167 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 230
Other Formats: mbr lit rtf docx

This was the last book that Pym wrote before her death and it's been largely over-looked. (There's no Kindle version, for example.) It's not one of her best and yet I think that Emma Howick is an intriguing character simply because she doesn't fit the mold of Pym's usual females.

The women in Pym's books fall into three categories. There are the self-effacing good girls like Mildred in EXCELLENT WOMEN and Ianthe in AN UNSUITABLE ATTACHMENT. There are the passionate, eccentric mis-fits - Jane in JANE AND PRUDENCE, Catherine in LESS THAN ANGELS, Sophia in AN UNSUITABLE ATTACHMENT, and Dulcie in NO FOND RETURN OF LOVE. And there are a few absurd femmes fatale like Prudence in JANE AND PRUDENCE and Leonora in THE SWEET DOVE DIED.

Emma doesn't FIT. Plain and generally poorly dressed, she's certainly not a man-hunter and yet men are comfortable with her, even if they sometimes take her for granted. She's not selfish or cruel, but she has too much sense of self to be a door-mat. She's aware that others have expectations of her, but doesn't worry about meeting them. She's intelligent, but remote and more likely to observe other people in a slightly clinical way than to get involved in their problems.

It's reasonable to suppose that Pym was already ill when she wrote this book and possibly knew that she hadn't long left. I wonder if the character of Emma is her summing up of how she saw herself and her life - a professional woman whose love affairs never led to marriage. While Emma isn't as entertaining as some of Pym's characters, she's more realistic.

This mild tale of a woman moving to a small village, re-connecting with an old boyfriend and meeting a new man won't have you on the edge of your seat, but it has Pym's charm and sly wit and some outrageous characters. Mostly it's of value because of the insight it gives into Pym's personality and her feelings as she looked back over her life. Pym fans should make an effort to find a copy and read it. Even Pym's second-string books are better than most writers can ever hope to achieve.
This novel is so very British, reserved, yet profound. It beautifully celebrates the cerebral machinations of a small Oxfordshire village and portrays the intertwined lives of its aging as well as its younger residents. Symptomatic of changing times, the village has two doctors, a Dr. G who is older and traditional and comforting, unwilling to dispense medicine but more than able to send his patients away with a platitude or bromide; and a younger doctor, geriatrics specialist, far more modern, believing in the cure-all of exercise and perhaps a prescription. Besides the medical comforters is the traditional religious comforter, Reverend Tom, a widower living with his thwarted sister Daphe, who dreams of owning a dog and living on a sun-drenched island in Greece. Reverend Tom is a lovely, harmless man, unable to be bold or aggressive, dreaming of a lost medieval village somewhere in the woods around the town, and preoccupied with history while the present slips away from him. Then there is Emma, an anthropologist, rather plain by her own telling, who has come to the town to recover from a shabby "affair" with a fellow academic, as well as to study small-town village life. After doing something impetuous, she finds herself facing the same rather boring man with which she was slightly entangled and is befuddled again as to what their "relationship," if it can be called that, really means, if anything. "A Few Green Leaves" is really about what is meaningful and beautiful in our lives. So very little can mean so much to us. A true artist, Barbara Pym creates for us these village lives, with their frustrations, their humor, their longings, and their mortality. This was her last artistic effort before her own death two months after its completion. It is a fine work, and I felt the whole way that I was in the secure hands of a master story teller: wise, funny, perceptive, and profoundly literate. Bravo!
I read several Barbara Pym novels almost 30 years ago. I put them in the book case and saved them. I moved them with me 7 or 8 times. I had forgotten why I was keeping them but I kept them.
Then I re-read them. I was floored. The writing is right, I am not sure how else to explain it. The characters live their lives in smaller English towns and villages, they do this or that yet it is all there. Barbara Pym captures her people in their lives and their thoughts and writes with wit, respect and affection for them. It seems quite a few of her books have recently been re-issued. I bought them all and am reading them, one at a time, with great pleasure.
Far be it for me to compare any writer to Jane Austen but there it is.
This is another review comparing Barbara Pym's books so that readers can choose between them.
A FEW GREEN LEAVES is my favorite. After writing about London settings, Pym returns to the small country village of her beginnings. But, this village lacks the comfortable traditionalism of her earlier SOME TAME GAZELLE. Much of the book dwells on the changes that have come about in the English countryside by 1980.
A FEW GREEN LEAVES is not depressing, however. It is instead humorously realistic about the incongruities between what people have been raised to expect and what actually is. In this sense, it is the most profound of her books because it demonstrates how we can still get the most out of life when only "a few green leaves" remain. This book was written at the end of Pym's life and it contains wisdom and hopefulness as well as, of course, great humor.