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A Glass Of Blessings (VMC) [Paperback]

Barbara Pym , John Bayley
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

3 Dec 2009 VMC (Book 127)

Wilmet Forsyth is well dressed, well looked after, suitably husbanded, good looking and fairly young - but very bored. Her husband Rodney, a handsome army major, is slightly balder and fatter than he once was. Wilmet would like to think she has changed rather less.

Her interest wanders to the nearby Anglo-catholic church, where at last she can neglect her comfortable household in the more serious-minded company of three unmarried priests, and, of course, Piers Longridge, a man of an unfathomably different character altogether.

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A Glass Of Blessings (VMC) + Excellent Women (VMC) + Jane And Prudence (VMC)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (3 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844085805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844085804
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The subtlest of her books - the sparkle on first acquaintance has been succeeded by the deeper brilliance of established art (Philip Larkin)

[Pym] makes me smile, laugh out loud, consider my own foibles and fantasies, and above all, suffer real regret when I reach the final page. Of how many authors can you honestly say that? (Mavis Cheek)

Barbara Pym is the rarest of treasures (Anne Tyler)

My favourite writer . . . I pick up her books with joy, as though I were meeting an old, dear friend who comforts me, extends my vision and makes me roar with laughter (Jilly Cooper)

Book Description

Barbara Pym was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1978 and is the quintessential VMC author. Following on from the huge success of JANE AND PRUDENCE, this novel was loved by Philip Larkin who declared it 'the subtlest of her books'.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet drama 18 Oct 2002
We are in 1950s London with an excellent cast of characters. The pathalogically domesticated Keith, forever washing down paintwork and boiling discloths in Tide; Father Thames, the gourmet priest with a penchant for Lapsang Souchong which can never be satisfied at parish get-togethers; and the kleptomaniac Wilf Bason, housekeeper at the clergy house, whose idea of a suitable meal for Lent is fried octopus; these are among the best.
Wilmet, the heroine, self-absorbed but aware to some extent of her failings, skims the surface of life without engaging with it. She is shocked out of her complacency by a series of events relating mainly to the novel's gay couple, Keith and Piers. When it was published, homosexuality was against the law, so it was a subversive element. However, it is handled with matter-of-factness, and there is very little Angst, except that Piers drinks more than is good for him, which could happen to any one.
Wilmet avoids being totally unsympathetic by the tone of her interior monologues, which have a lot in common with those of Miss Pym's spinster heroines - these include the references to Victorian literature and the interest in the details of other peoples' lives (as long as they are "people like us").
A top class Pym.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Wilmet Meet Herself? 23 Jun 2004
By viv
Narrated by the shallow Wilmet, Glass of Blessings showcases Pym's wonderfully observant characterizations and contradictory impulses. Wilmet herself observes and comments but the reader soon learns that this self-absorbed woman is a narrator flawfully unself-aware. Pym includes deliciously witty commentary on class, church, and love through Wilmet's first person narration. No plot to speak of, naturally, but the question of Wilmet's realizing some understanding of love, of herself moves the reader through this sly wonderful novel, full of the blessings of Pym's irony.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An appealing heroine 21 Dec 2009
By Mario
I read an extract from "A Glass of Blessings" in "The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories" where Barbara Pym is credited as being "one of the first English writers to include homosexual characters in her work without sensationalising or condemning them." What's equally remarkable is that when Pym wrote this novel,where a gay couple is presented in an entirely matter-of-fact manner, homosexuality was still a crime. Reading the whole book I was enchanted by the heroine, Wilmet Forsyth, 30-something, fashion-conscious, idle, bored, with an affluent and hard-working husband, an intellectual, do-gooding mother-in-law, and no less than three High Anglican priests to interest herself in! I can just picture Wilmet, in a classic 50s couture suit, fur stole, and high heels,taking a taxi to a ladies' lunch, and then going on to buy an elegant hat. But what makes her so appealing are her doubts, humour, self-awareness, and her recognition of her mistakes. She makes a cameo appearance too in "No Fond Return of Love", still secure and cherished, with her husband Rodney and the gay couple, Piers and Keith, all in attendance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The rarest of treasures ..." 16 April 2012
By Eric TM
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anne Tyler's observation that "Barbara Pym is the rarest of treasures; she reminds us of the heartbreaking silliness of everyday life' is wonderfully apposite. Having discovered her for myself over twenty years ago, I have once more fallen into her web and what a joy it is. Resistance is futile. Although trite and over used, reference to her and Jane Austin is not inappropriate. If you hate Austin, stay away from Pym. Loving Austin is no guarantee that you will love -- or even like -- Pym but it is a good point of departure. Starting with the original six is essential. For the later novels, try The Sweet Dove Died to get a flavour of the renewed Pym and to see how the new world she created in the 1970s is so distant from the early post-war period of the 1950s.

Choosing a favourite is not of much import to me but A Glass of Blessings should not be missed. For a beginner, I would start at the beginning if for no other reason than the silly pleasure of meeting character from earlier novels wandering into the one you are currently reading. If you miss Willmet, Keith, Piers and Rodney from Blessings ..., they wander into No Fond Return of Love "like characters in a novel' according to Viola. Even Barbara pops in for breakfast. If all this seems remarkably twee, Pym is probably not for you. If this kind of literary silliness speaks to your condition then Barbara Pym may become your new favourite author. If you are a beginner, I envy your voyage of discovery.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glass of praise 26 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A Glass of Blessings (along with Excellent Women) is one of my favourite Pym novels and certainly the funniest. I'm not sure why she is compared to Jane Austen (she owes no more to her than do a lot of other writers both male and female) or why the cover blurb says she makes readers smile. Most readers will be reduced to laughing out loud - this novel of 1950s mores seems hardly to have dated at all, despite taking as its subject the leisured life of a stay-at-home wife and the amorous adventures of various clergymen.

Rather, she is a kind of ecclesiastical version of Nancy Mitford, as the various inhabitants of a London parish and the more worldly-world of the disolute Piers and Keith come under the superior eye of Wilmet. I particularly liked the verger's (I think) joy at discovering dry rot in the church ("It will make a man of him") and Mr. Bason's career as a chef-cum-antiques shop manager in Devon. Highly recommended
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable blessing
I have liked all of Barbara Pym's novels, and if you like her work I am sure you will enjoy this one,
Published 3 months ago by Ruth Book
5.0 out of 5 stars very pleased with my purchase
I love Barbara Pym books and am collecting them. She reminds me of Jane Austen. This was in good condition and arrived promptly
Published 4 months ago by C. A. Harfleet
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a rich read.
I have only recently discovered Barbara Pym, and am so enjoying working my way through her novels. Her gentle attention to detail is beautiful, and they are the perfect bedtime... Read more
Published 8 months ago by L.A.Simmons
3.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Pym book
I wasnt keen on this book and found it quite depressing actually. The main character was a complete drip perhaps it is because it is set in the fifties, it all seemed unbelievable. Read more
Published 8 months ago by ipswich
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read !
This author was recommended by a friend and I really enjoyed it. Will defintely be reading more of Barbara Pym.
Published 11 months ago by fiona23
5.0 out of 5 stars Pym seems comfy but she is anything but!
I really do think that Barbara Pym was a 20th century Jane Austen or perhaos more fairly, Trollope: Anthony not Joanna. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Devon Lady
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
This book is not to everyone's taste. It was dated by 1960, which explains Barbara Pym's "partial eclipse" after that date. Read more
Published 19 months ago by W. Tegner
5.0 out of 5 stars 'A little piece of ivory, two inches wide'
Barbara Pym is often compared to a modern day Jane Austen. It is easy to see why, in this beautifully crafted work set in the 1950's. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Lady Fancifull
4.0 out of 5 stars Consistently Pymish
For those who value subtlety and a gentle read, you can't go wrong with Barbara Pym - a soft observation on life, always with the clergy involved - weirdly ;)
Published 20 months ago by Nix
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and almost perfect
Having read Crampton Hodnet and really enjoyed it,I decided to try this Pym book. I suppose the narrator,Wilmet,'a lady who lunches', is almost exactly the same age as my late... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Pappashanga
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