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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful past
Some Tame Gazelle is set in a village just as picturesque as St Mary Mead or any other literary village, but the characters are deeper and utterly credible. It is full of moments of recognition, such as Belinda's joy at making pasta, 'finer than the finest chamois leather' and who has not had sudden guests and felt guilty at the withered orange in the bowl? It gently...
Published on 28 Aug 2008 by Christabel

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something to quite like.
I have really been enjoying the chance to discover Barbara Pym through the Virago re-issues. So far I have absolutely fallen in love with Jane and Prudence, Excellent Women and No Fond Return of Love. I am really looking forward to A Glass of Blessings and Less than Angels coming out. So the re-issue of Some Tame Gazelle this month was a cause of some excitment. However I...
Published on 10 Aug 2009 by H. C. Anderson


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful past, 28 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Some Tame Gazelle (Paperback)
Some Tame Gazelle is set in a village just as picturesque as St Mary Mead or any other literary village, but the characters are deeper and utterly credible. It is full of moments of recognition, such as Belinda's joy at making pasta, 'finer than the finest chamois leather' and who has not had sudden guests and felt guilty at the withered orange in the bowl? It gently and tellingly relays what has been described as the beauty of the unregarded life, and points out that romance is on offer, even there. It repays rereading, for the more subtle humour can be sometimes missed on a first read. It is a brilliant book, and its layers reveal themselves slowly as one becomes more and more drawn into the lives of the Bede sisters.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and funny, 22 April 2001
By 
P. A. Hogan (Providence RI USA) - See all my reviews
In the early chapters of "Some Tame Gazelle" we are taken on a "Pym moments" romp through the day-to-day lives of the spinster sisters, Belinda and Harriet Bede. Timid, sentimental Belinda (another of Pym's "Excellent Women"), elder of the two, a faithful church worker, has loved the peevish, married Archdeacon Henry Hoccleve ("dear Henry") for over 30 years. Belinda quotes 18th Century poets, wears "sensible" shoes and longs for "some sympathetic person to whom she could say that Dr. Johnson had been so right when he had said that all change is of itself an evil." Plump ("attractive in a fat Teutonic way"), jolly and style-conscious Harriet, in her middle fifties, has a fondness for young curates to whom she serves boiled chicken suppers and makes presents of hand-knitted socks and home-made jellies. We meet: The Reverend Edgar Donne, the latest in a long line of young curates fussed over by Harriet; Edith Liversidge ("a kind of decayed gentlewoman"), the disheveled, blunt-speaking neighbor with an interest in sanitation arrangements; the dreary, snobbish Connie Aspinall, who basks in the memory of her glory days when she was companion to Lady Grudge of Belgrave Square ("a kind of relation of one of Queen Alexandra's Ladies-in-Waiting"); Miss Prior, the touchy sewing woman, in a tender and humorous episode involving cauliflower cheese; the melancholy Count Ricardo Bianco, who on a regular basis offers proposals of marriage to Harriet. There is Archdeacon Hoccleve, the object of Belinda's devotion ("her passion had mellowed into a comfortable feeling more like the cosiness of a winter evening by the fire than the uncertain rapture of a spring morning"), whose standoffish behavior and proclivity for choosing unsuitable prayers and for preaching obscure literary sermons no one understands win him little favor among the people in his parish. And there are more matchless Pym characters set against a quintessential Pym story, touching and funny and quite wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something to love, oh, something to love......., 29 Mar 2014
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Some Tame Gazelle (VMC) (Paperback)
"Some tame gazelle, or some gentle dove:
Something to love, oh, something to love."

Some Tame Gazelle is Barbara Pym's first novel - published in 1950 but started before the war and set in 1930s. It is a gently comic picture of village life that has the local church at its centre. Like Jane Austen, Pym writes about a small world sharply observed. Harriet and Belinda are spinster sisters who have rejected various offers of marriage but enjoy "crushes" on the church clergy. Any newcomer is eagerly awaited and his looks, manners and general demeanour discussed at length. The humour is gentle but laced with some very incisive comments on the way in which the men in the book are only able to function because of the abilities of the women around them.
Belinda is in love with Archdeacon Hoccleve - but is probably realises that it is more satisfactory to love him at a distance. He is an increasingly obnoxious character who constantly complains about how busy he is, how little time he has for any leisure and is unable to have a holiday -but at the same time he barely fulfills his statutory duties and resents many of the tasks that a member of the clergy is expected to carry out.

On the surface this is a cosy tale of country folk but is in fact so much more - unrequited love, petty jealousies, male/female relationships and class snobberies.

Barbara Pym is a literary treasure and all her books are joys to be savoured.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something to quite like., 10 Aug 2009
By 
H. C. Anderson (Brentwood, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Some Tame Gazelle (VMC) (Paperback)
I have really been enjoying the chance to discover Barbara Pym through the Virago re-issues. So far I have absolutely fallen in love with Jane and Prudence, Excellent Women and No Fond Return of Love. I am really looking forward to A Glass of Blessings and Less than Angels coming out. So the re-issue of Some Tame Gazelle this month was a cause of some excitment. However I have to say Some Tame Gazelle has been something of a disappointment.
It is not a bad book - I don't think Barbara Pym was capable of writing a bad book but I usually love the central character and I have to say I have found Belinda rather hard to like. I can't put my finger on it but I think she is more snobbish and obsessed with propriety than Pym's other heroines. In fact I don't remember Dulcie, Jane, Prudence or Mildred showing any of these traits... Another annoyance is her love for the Archdeacon. Her books are full of women who love rather selfish self-satisfied men. But usually the reader can see the attraction to the men (despite their faults) even if he or she does not share it. Whereas with the Archdeacon in 'Gazelle' whilst his self-love and pronoucements are often very funny - he himself is not a remotely likeable character. So much so that I found myself warming to his wife Agatha - despite the fact she is clearly not meant to be likeable and rather unkind to Belinda.
Maybe the problem with Some Tame Gazelle it is Pym's first book and she was still developing her unique voice. That said it is still worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 20 July 2014
By 
W. Tegner "Bill" (Cheshire UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In my review of A Glass of Blessings, I said that it "was not to everyone's taste", and so it proved: it was dismissed as "chick-lit" by my (former) book group. But I have to confess a great affection for Miss Pym's books, so I was pleased to read in the first sentence of Mavis Cheek's introduction, that "from the opening line of Some Tame Gazelle you are safely and deliciously in Barbara Pym country". And so I was.

The book is set in rural (presumably southern) England, as so many books are, from Agatha Christie to MC Beaton and many others. I can remember life there in the fifties (though this book predates that) and it rings true, with horsey voices, vicarage tea parties and tweeds. Agatha Raisin and Miss Marple could well be there with their coteries, but there are no murders to keep them interested.

The Church of England was obviously far more of a presence then than now. I don't think many villages now boast an Archdeacon and a curate. And the class system was even more rigid. I noticed references to "the village people", an expression still in use, I think. And then there are people like Mrs Prior who don't quite fit in, being somewhere in the middle.

Yes, it's an interesting glimpse of another age: of boiled chicken, mutton, tinned tongue and bottled fruit, with hock to wash down the meal. And (afternoon) tea, an important event at four o'clock. And the Crown and Pinion was definitely off limits to the respectable.

Two phrases caught my attention: "the comfortable life of a spinster in a country parish", and "uneventful lives in this quiet village". But it is not a precious, rustic soliloquy of the type favoured by writers like Elizabeth Goudge. The author comes across as what she was, educated and intellectual, but also full of humour, fun and even a degree of spice. As Anne Tyler says, "she reminds us of the heartbreaking silliness of everyday life" (or life as it was, albeit in a rather niche environment). And this book contains some real gems. Altogether it's a relaxing, entertaining and enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym, 30 Mar 2013
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Have not read any books by Barbara Pym for years so good to read her again after a long gap.
She is said to be like Jane Austen - I am not sure that is true at all apart from observing people - especially church men and women.. but she is more concerned with this than J.A who had a grasp of psychology and how people functioned over a much wider social span. Its of an era which is what makes its interesting. I suspect some would be bored by it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Safe sisterly relationship, 12 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Some Tame Gazelle (VMC) (Paperback)
I read this after several other Pym books and enjoyed it. It is very funny and the characters are all such silly people that I think it must have been intended as a satire. Belinda and Harriet, the two crush-prone spinsters, are living a cosy and rather dull life in their village. For entertainment they magnify trivia and have crushes on ridiculous churchmen. Were (are?) archdeacons, bishops and curates really like this? I think they're caricatures. A clue is in the surnames. How can you take someone called 'Grote' or 'Grudge' seriously? As an African-born person how can I take Mbawawa(I think) remotely seriously? I went to a church school in Africa in the fifties and heard lots of idiotic sermons('the fairies at the bottom of the compost heap' being my favourite) but this Archdeacon goes far beyond and Belinda would need to have been an imbecile to have enjoyed them.
The enjoyment is in the beautiful writing and the humour. It is only in the last chapter that the book becomes reflective of anything remotely deep-that Harriet and Belinda are afraid of change, and that whilst they may fantasise (incessantly) about men, when someone actually does anything about it-they are both proposed to and reject the proposals- they scuttle back to their safe sisterly twosome. This may be how Pym saw herself and her sister's relationship. Sad, as she was only 37 when she wrote this, perhaps already scarred by rejection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable, but not her strongest work, 7 May 2012
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This review is from: Some Tame Gazelle (VMC) (Paperback)
Sixteen years in the making, according to the Introduction in the Virago Modern Classics edition - at least 16 years elapsed from the start of composition to the date of publication - this was Barbara Pym's first novel.

In many ways, it is perfectly realised - the middle aged Bede sisters live in a village, have no need to work, and occupy themselves in gossip, some good works and become emotionally engaged in the life of, particularly, the local clergymen. Belinda has loved the local archdeacon for 30 years, but he is married to someone else and the flame within Belinda now burns steadily still, but with less ardour than in her youth. Harriet, meanwhile, has taken a strong interest in a long run of mostly celibate or would-be celibate curates. Pym is, as in her later novels, wonderfully sympathetic to ALL her characters - and also laughs at all their foibles, whims and eccentricities. And this novel gives us much to smile at and much to laugh at.

Later novels, however, would add dimensions of life that are missing here - the first person narratives of Excellent Women and A Glass of Blessings are remarkably sustained exercises in imagining an inner world; and the themes of the novels will gradually become deeper - and more painful.

But this is very enjoyable and strongly recommendable - just not her strongest work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gently funny, 22 Jun 2011
This review is from: Some Tame Gazelle (VMC) (Paperback)
I have have read several Barbara Pym's novels and have found them all deeply satisfying. I think this is my favourite. Her gentle observations of village life based around the church are always sharp, funny and more than a little bit sad. Highly recommended .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truth universally acknowledged, 27 Sep 2010
This review is from: Some Tame Gazelle (Paperback)
In the last part of the 20th century Barbara Pym was finally recognised as one of the most under-rated writers of her day. She has been compared with a latter day Jane Austin, a good analogy as she had the same sharp, but quiet wit.

I've just re-read Some Tame Gazelle, Barbara Pym's first novel, about two middle aged spinsters. It seems to me as engaging now as the day I first read it (maybe 30 years ago). She completed the book in 1935 when she was only 22. Initially, she struggled to find a publisher, but went on to write a string of equally delightful and amusing books. Why am I so charmed? It is something of a period piece and as mentioned elsewhere, my natural habitat was probably the 1930s. I think I rather yearn for less brash times, the days of gentle humour and making the best of things; when people were a bit more stoical, got on with life and made do with far less than we have now. Highly recommended as a way of stepping aside from the rat race to a nicer time.

The HR Headmistress
Author: How to Get Top Marks in ... Managing Poor Work Performance
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Some Tame Gazelle (VMC)
Some Tame Gazelle (VMC) by Barbara Pym (Paperback - 6 Aug 2009)
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