Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jane and Prudence

Finished Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym. This is Pym's third novel, published in 1953. Jane is the wife of a clergyman. Her younger friend Prudence is an independent, unmarried woman who works for a publisher. Jane lives in a country village. Prudence lives in London. Their lives could not be more different.

Jane is a rather dotty woman who often speaks before she thinks. While she means well, she is often misunderstood by others. She worries about her friend Prudence and wants to see her happily settled. Thus, she embarks on a matchmaking scheme that mirrors those of Emma Woodhouse. She even compared herself at one point to Austen's Emma. Much like Emma's efforts, hers is misguided.

Pym is so very good at minute observations. As a reader I felt very close to all the characters. There is a brief mention of Mildred Lathbury, the heroine of Pym's previous novel, Excellent Women. We are informed that Mildred has married the anthropologist Mr. Bone. This news was both satisfying and hilarious to me.

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