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Felicity and Barbara Pym [Paperback]

Harrison Solow
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Jun 2010
"Original, controversial, academic, readable, serious, light-hearted, sensible, charming - there is no end to the words that could be applied to Felicity and Barbara Pym. Such is the opinion of Hazel Holt, Biographer and Literary Executor of the Barbara Pym Estate.

What appear to be books about "Silly men, Mousy women, Tea, Religion and Quotations, in which apparently "nothing happens" are in fact novels that open up the world, writes Mallory Cooper to her recalcitrant literature student, Felicity about the novels of Barbara Pym. Beautifully observed, Felicity and Barbara Pym is a rare thing - a cross genre work (fiction and nonfiction) that is also creative and literary in its own right.

"This is a book of strong opinions, valiant, forthright and elegant, laid out in defiance of yea-sayers, bet-hedgers, academic bureaucrats and bureaucratic academics" and "should be mandatory reading for all undergraduate students of English Literature..." says the eminent Emeritus Fellow of the English Association, Peter Miles.

Says Harrison Solow: "It's about literature. It's about reading. It's about writing. It's about becoming educated, about not assuming things aren't happening just because you don't see them happening, about not ever believing that language is a true vehicle for communication - and it's about knowing that sometimes, in order to get a true education, you have to turn to your butcher."



Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cinnamon Press (9 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907090118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907090110
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 890,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Harrison Solow is widely published in America, Wales, Canada and England. Writer in Residence for the University of Wales, Lampeter in 2008, Harrison was Director of The Saint David's Institute for Wales in the World, as well as a lecturer in English and American Literature and Writing. She won a prestigious Pushcart Prize for Literary Non-Fiction in 2008 and her poetry and short fiction has also won several awards.

"Pushcart Prize winning American writer, former Franciscan nun and of the two best selling UC Press authors of all time (at time of publication) Harrison Solow has received many awards for her literary fiction, nonfiction, cross-genre writing, poetry and professional writing. Her most recent award is First Prize for Short Fiction in the Carpe Articulum Literary Review International Competition for 2010.

Harrison has lectured at a number of universities, colleges, arts and cultural institutions in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. A former faculty member at UC Berkeley, she accepted a lectureship in the English Department of the University of Wales in 2004 and was appointed Writer in Residence in 2008.

She is a strong proponent of the traditional Liberal Arts, the Fine Arts and the Utilitarian Arts as separate and equally respectable entities, an advocate for Wales and a patron of literary endeavours.

Harrison speaks various varieties of English as well as intermediate Welsh and rusty French. She is a member of The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers, The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The National Association of Scholars, The Women's Faculty Club of the University of California, Berkeley, The Association of Welsh Writers in English, The Claremont Institute, The Association for Core Texts and Courses, The Red Room, The Association of Writing Programs, The Welsh Academy, and The National Coalition of Independent Scholars, where she serves on the Board.

Harrison lives in the United States and Wales with her husband, Herbert F. Solow, the former Head of MGM, Paramount and Desilu Studios (Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Mannix, Medical Center, etc).

Pushcart Prize winning American writer, former Franciscan nun and of the two best selling UC Press authors of all time (at time of publication) Harrison Solow has received many awards for her literary fiction, nonfiction, cross-genre writing, poetry and professional writing. Her most recent award is First Prize for Short Fiction in the Carpe Articulum Literary Review International Competition for 2010. Harrison Solow is published in America, Wales, Canada and England under a trio of pseudonyms by The University of California Press, Simon & Schuster, The Pushcart Press, Cinnamon Press, Harper Collins and several others.

Harrison has lectured at a number of universities, colleges, arts and cultural institutions in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. A former faculty member at UC Berkeley, she accepted a lectureship in the English Department of the University of Wales in 2004 and was appointed Writer in Residence in 2008.

She is a strong proponent of the traditional Liberal Arts, the Fine Arts and the Utilitarian Arts as separate and equally respectable entities, an advocate for Wales and a patron of literary endeavours.

Harrison speaks various varieties of English as well as intermediate Welsh and rusty French. She is a member of The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers, The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The National Association of Scholars, The Women's Faculty Club of the University of California, Berkeley, The Association of Welsh Writers in English, The Claremont Institute, The Association for Core Texts and Courses, The Red Room, The Association of Writing Programs, The Welsh Academy, and The National Coalition of Independent Scholars, where she serves on the Board.

Harrison lives with her husband, Herbert F. Solow, the former Head of MGM, Paramount and Desilu Studios, in the USA and Wales. She has two incomparable sons.


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The English of the 50s explained 7 Mar 2011
By Joyeuse VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
For anyone who reads Barbara Pym's novels or the novels of the mid C20th generally this is an very enjoyable adjunct.

Written as a series of letters/emails from an American college lecturer to a student about to enter on the study of Barbara Pym it is an amusing look at the English/American cultural divide, and not only the cultural divide - it examines and explains a world as surely lost to this young American as would be the world of Jane Austen. Indeed it is as much a lost world to an English contemporary as it is to Felicity and will ring bells with anyone who has been faced with such queries as "What's a mangle?" or "Who's El Alamein?" from junior relatives and colleagues.

It's a clever exploration of the changes, to not only the physical and technological worlds, but of the almost unrecognisable social mores and economic constraints of that time and place when viewed from 2011.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to do with Barbara Pym 4 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is awful.
Barbara Pym would be embarrassed by this. It consists of one side of a correspondence between a student and an academic who constantly talks down to her and boasts of her own achievements.
She knows a man who has had work published in Hebrew,Yiddish, Aramaic and Russian and is a 'deep and elevated soul' when he talks in English. Good for her but not much to do with Barbara Pym.
She also knows lots of people in Hollywood.95% of these acquaintances are 'highly dedicated and talented people'. I am sure they are but nothing to do with Barbara Pym.
Even if you have a barge-pole: Stay Away!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be aware of what you're buying! 24 Jun 2013
By S Jones
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can understand why this book provokes some extreme reactions. Many will have become aware of it through reading Barbara Pym's novels and come expecting something, I suspect, similar in style.
In fact, it represents the correspondence from "Mallory Cooper" (who appears to be a thinly disguised version of the author*) to "Felicity", an American student about to embark on an English Literature degree and who has been given a paper to write on Barbara Pym. The format is very similar to CS Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters", and like Wormwood in that book, we never meet Felicity but form a picture of her through Mallory's letters to her (I imagine her as an modern version of Flora Cleveland from "Jane and Prudence"). As with CS Lewis, Mallory Cooper could be considered quite reactionary - or traditional, depending on your own view - given her stated views on the various 'modern' theories of teaching of English, current academic standards and the mass expansion of student numbers.
Felicity, it appears, doesn't like or understand Pym's work, and through the book Mallory's letters explain to her the social, economic and cultural context of the books - via chapters entitled "Silly Men", "Mousy Women" and "Tea". For many modern readers, especially not from the UK, understanding this is vital to appreciate some of the nuances and humour in Pym's novels.
However, it's worth stressing that this isn't in any way a "heavy" or theoretical tome. It's fairly short, and the tone is light and chatty throughout - I read it completely in the course of a couple of train journeys. There are some amusing digressions into aspects of Mallory's life in the film industry, with a couple of one-liners that would be worthy of Barbara Pym herself.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not out of print! 4 Dec 2009
By Dr. J. E. Fortune - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is certainly not out of print. As the publisher I can assure readers it's still in the finishing stages of editing and is due for release in May 2010 - and that has always been the target date. It's well worth the wait. This is an extraordinary book, an innovative epistolary creative nonfiction, introducing readers not only to the works of Pym in accessible style with great wit, but also to the peculiarities of Englishness, with something to say about Americanness along the way.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for fans of Miss Pym's novels 22 Dec 2010
By V. V. Pol - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Just love this book!! Having read all of Barbara Pym's novels and still craving more, this book enabled me to revisit Miss Pym's delectable assortment of caracters.
Ms. Solow's writing is witty and clever and she( or alter ego Mallory Cooper) delves into the caracters exposing layers that had escaped me or that I had seen in a different light. Her knowledge of English customs (loved the chapter on tea!) and idiosyncrasies makes you want to get on the first flight to the English countryside.
A very enjoyable book from an author that I hope to read more of.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Felicity and Barbara Pym 5 Oct 2011
By Katmeis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant journey into the mind and soul of a witty and wise intellectual who, through a series of letters, tries to inspire a love of Barbara Pym's literature in a reluctant student, Felicity. Solow's no nonsense Professor Mallory (who has much in common with the author) is a force to be reckoned with. She is frank, funny and highly engaging. I finished the book wishing she might appear in a one-woman show on Broadway. You will laugh, ponder and, if you're like me, probably end up reading Barbara Pym after enjoying this fabulous book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous book 2 Sep 2013
By Barbara Froman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
You do not need to be familiar with Barbara Pym's writing in order to love Felicity and Barbara Pym--but you will probably want to become familiar with it by the time you finish Harrison Solow's book. What Dr. Solow has done in this volume is demonstrate, through a series of letters written by a professor, Mallory Cooper, to her student, Felicity, the best of the educational process.

At every turn, Professor Cooper is passionate about her subject matter, displaying a dazzling knowledge of and reverence for history, language, and literature, as well as an impatience with myopic and self-serving views. A charismatic instructor, she needles, she criticizes, and challenges Felicity to dig into her subject matter, examine and appreciate its context. And, as she does, she deftly engages the reader in the same process, encouraging them to discover, or rediscover, why literature is so important.

Felicity and Barbara Pym is a hugely entertaining read and a great achievement--a must for anyone who loves books.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Force 5 Jun 2013
By Jules Jacob - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Harrison Solow's creative genius is apparent, and cleverly cloaked in her genre-defying novel Felicity & Barbara Pym. The story is told through Professor Mallory Cooper's one-sided correspondence with her student Felicity, who's considering a liberal arts degree without considering the context of literature. Felicity is intrigued by her esteemed professor's extraordinary life, and her own media-bottled notions of Hollywood.

Professor Cooper employs the novels of underrated English author, Barbara Pym, and a cornucopia of witty, erudite opinions and subjects--weak male characters, engaging word derivations, mousy women, academic posers, religious assumptions, prejudiced poetry, the significance of clothing in novels and the intangibility of fame--to entice (and boot) Felicity out of her teenage, literary and literal status quo.

Harrison Solow removes the reader's literary boundaries without the reader realizing she's placed an eraser in their hand. Felicity & Barbara Pym is a proof of the unification theory Solow refers to in the book's preface in which "seemingly unrelated facts or principles can coalesce into a magnificently unified microcosm, wherein all components balance beautifully, harmoniously and usefully with the application of appreciation to knowledge."

Readers of all levels and circumstance will want to keep a pad of paper and pencil handy while reading Felicity & Barbara Pym. Long after they've finished the novel, the majority will still be on Solow's tuition-free, DIY literary tour de force.
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