The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

May 22, 2013


Barbara was making good progress with her novel, which she finally decided to call Some Tame Gazelle (having rejected Some Sad Turtle as being too reminiscent of soup.) It was, of course, 'for Henry' and as Archdeacon Hoccleve he displayed all the selfishness, insensitivity and arrogance that Barbara felt she saw in the original.  But, because Barbara was still fascinated by Henry, the Archdeacon comes through triumphantly as a marvelous eccentric, with great charisma and one who, in spite of his faults, the heroine Belinda/Barbara could not help loving faithfully even after he had been married to another woman for thirty years. She deliberately took all the main characters directly from life, since this was to a be a roman a clef for her own particular circle. Thus she herself was Belinda, Hilary was Harriet, Henry was the Archdeacon, the hated Alison West-Watson was Agatha, Jock was Dr. Nicholas Parnell, Honor Tracy was Edith Liversidge, Count Roberto Weiss was Ricardo Blanco and Julia Pakenham (because of a rather matronly figure) was Lady Clara Boulding. She circulated chapters among her friends as she wrote them and they were all enthusiastic. Quite early on, in July 1934, Jock had written:

Henry and I think you are a very great novelist and implore you to continue your story -- we long to know more about Barbara and Hilary and the Archdeacon's family and Miss Tracy and Dr. Liddell. Henry thinks you are far greater than Miss Austen. I don't quite agree, though I place you well above the Brontes. We have read your story aloud to each other to West-Watson, to Mr. Barnicot and to Henry's sister Betty. Henry's mother, present on the last occasion, thought it very clever of the little girl Barbara to think of all that.

from A Lot to Ask:  A Life of Barbara Pym, by Hazel Holt



JoAnn said...

No, Some Sad Turtle just would not do at all!

Bellezza said...

I'm hoping to Prymp win you...I have A Glassful of Blessings and Excellent Women. Now I just hope to have time.

Vintage Reading said...

Love the line 'Henry thinks you are far greater than Miss Austen ... I don't quite agree' !!

Anonymous said...

Some Sad Turtle, hahahaha! Thanks for sharing that delicious bit! :) That's the only Pym I have read so far (Some Tame Gazelle, that is) and am definitely looking forward to reading more.

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #Middlemarchin2019 #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Allison Pearson Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy Whipple E.H. Young E.M. Delafield E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Ellizabeth Taylor Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Essays Eudora Welty Fanny Burney Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Gertrude Stein Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Martha Grimes Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Susan Hill Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson