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A Few Green Leaves [Paperback]

Barbara Pym
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 1999
Emma Howick, an aspiring anthropologist, chooses to settle in a country community in the heart of England, with a view to researching a study on "The Social Patterns of a West Oxfordshire Village". She soon finds herself inextricably caught up in the lives of her new neighbours.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Moyer Bell Ltd ,U.S.; New Ed edition (1 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559212284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559212281
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 825,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Emma Howick, an aspiring anthropologist, chooses to settle in a sleepy country community in the heart of England, with a view to researching a study on ‘The Social Patterns of a West Oxfordshire Village’. She soon finds herself inextricably caught up in the lives of her new neighbours: Tom Dagnall, the widowed rector who is passionate about local history; Tom’s dominating and frustrated sister, Daphne, whose ambitions are to own a dog and escape to a Greek island; Adam Prince, a fastidious and self-indulgent good food inspector; Sir Miles, the elusive local squire; and last but not least, the genteel spinsters, Misses Lee, Grundy and Lickerish.

In 'A Few Green Leaves', Barbara Pym chronicles everyday life with her inimitable warmth and humour, creating an incomparable, vivid portrait of English village society.

“Her sense of humour is as strong as ever. The set pieces are as witty, or wittier, than anything she has ever written.”

“Miss Pym’s characters are human and warm and vulnerable … they establish themselves immediately, they stay in the mind. This is a book to be taken slowly and easily … there are epiphanies in it, showings-forth of joy.”

“She has a connoisseur’s eye for the absurd, almost disconcerting candour, and the ability to note shortcomings with amused equanimity.”

Also available in Flamingo: 'Civil to Strangers', 'The Sweet Dove Died' and 'Quartet in Autumn'.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Barbara Pym, who died in 1980, spent the last years of her life in an Oxfordshire village, sharing a small cottage with her sister. Between 1950 and 1961 she published six novels. After a gap of sixteen years, publication of ‘Quartet in Autumn’ in 1977 was treated as a major literary event, as was her next novel, ‘The Sweet Dove Died’. Four more novels were published posthumously, as was ‘Civil to Strangers’, a collection of writings including one complete novel and sections of three others.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Green leaves turning to autumn shades 12 Oct 2010
Yesterday was my first day back from holiday. It was busy, needless to say and we also lost our broadband in the office for a while towards the end of the day which made life difficult.

By the end of it I wanted to be soothed with gentle, perceptive writing, a dry wit and a degree of detachment, which I like but has become rather unfashionable in these days of letting all one's emotions hang out all over the place. I come over all headmistressy with too much public weeping and gnashing of teeth ("put that heart on your sleeve away, please !").

I picked up A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym. I really love everything she has ever written (anyone brought up on Jane Austen like I was would feel the same). This book is no exception. It was Miss Pym's last book. In its outlook one could say that it is an autumnal feel to it - calm, gently mocking in places and dispassionate. There's less humour than in her previous books and though there are tinges of melancholy it's not sad, far from it; it leaves one feeling that there may be the possibility of a happy outcome for Emma and Tom.

Mission accomplished - reading my tatty old copy, I was soothed and entertained yet again. Excellent for calming the mind at the end of a busy day.

The HR Headmistress
Author: How to Get Top Marks in ... Managing Poor Work Performance
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars elegiac last novel 25 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was Pym's last novel written in the years after she become once again publishable and published just after her death. It covers the lives of a range of Oxfordshire villagers and no doubt draws on Pym's experience of living in an Oxfordshire village in her retirement.

Pym still shows here her knowledge of the human heart, the strangeness of renewing acquaintance with old loves being a theme of her later years and fully developed here and the novel is written in the inimitable style of her maturity. Each chapter holds the interest, and there is much both to smile at and to sympathise with, for all her characters. The novel lacks the high spirits of her earlier work, but retains a comic tone in its observations of the exchanges of everyday life. The tone is elegiac - and much more welcoming of life than its immediate predecessor, Quartet In Autumn. It probably helps that the most central character is in her 30s - though there is a rich cast list of all ages.

In short, I would strongly recommend this to admirers of Barbara Pym. But for those coming to her novels, start with the ones she wrote in the 1950s, or just possibly The Sweet Dove Died, is what I'd recommend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very fine novel 29 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you've read any Barbara Pym, you'll know the kind of thing. Gentle humour and whimscality, a bit of romance and a story of imperfect human beings trying to find some meaning in the their lives. Beautifully written and a book you could lose yourself in. A shame it isn't longer.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor for Pym 19 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book, written shortly before her death, is probably Pym's worse novel, and well below her usual standard set by the books she wrote in the 1950s. Formulaic and written rather unnaturally, with characters which are not convincing. Has flashes of her unique style but really of interest only to dedicated Pymmites.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom And Hopefulness 18 July 2000
By Trixie - Published on Amazon.com
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.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Barbara Pym's best 11 May 2000
By Kathy Housley - Published on Amazon.com
"A Few Green Leaves" is one of Barbara Pym's best novels. It is full of characters familiar to readers of Pym's other novels; rectors, widows, spinsters, eccentrics, anthropologists and a cat lady. There is romance, but in true Pym fashion it is not always suitable. It is subtly funny and poignantly sad, often at the same time. The heroine, Emma Howick, is a prototypical Pym spinster, intellectual, unsure and perhaps uninterested in the classic ways to attract a man. She is an anthropologist recently moved to a small village to live in her mother's cottage. I discovered Barbara Pym's work while in college and nothing she has written has ever disappointed me.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less Is So Much More 7 Jan 2007
By John Sollami - Published on Amazon.com
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!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Barbara Pym, you will never regret it 3 Oct 2008
By M. Goodman-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
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.
7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unspeakably Boring 15 Aug 2008
By Kate Smart - Published on Amazon.com
I have read several books by Barbara Pym (Jane & Prudence is her best, in my opinion) and although nothing really happens in her novels, there is nevertheless something compelling about the writing and characters which keeps you reading.
This time, I could only get through the first quarter. I cannot understand why Pym's editors never put the brakes on her obsession with spinterish women who live next to a rectory. I realize that 4 or 5 novels of Pym's is enough for me; this one was particularly excruciating.

When her protagonists are eccentric virginal types who go around quoting Byron, it is tolerable when the setting is pre-WW2 England, or just after. But in this novel, it's the 1970's - a time of emerging feminisim, consciousness raising, and political activism. And yet, once again her characters are meanding through the woods, talking about jumble sales and tea scones and arguing about who is going to arrange the flowers for the church. Enough already. This novel is boring to a degree that is nearly coma-inducing. I'm guess I'm done with Barbara Pym.
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