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

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

June 4, 2013

The gentle art of undomesticity

      'No choice!' Mrs. Morris' scornful laugh ran out. 'You want to think of yourself a bit more, Miss Lathbury, if you don't mind me saying so. You've done too much for Father Malory and so has Miss Winifred and in the end you both get left, if you'll excuse me putting it so plainly.'
      'Yes, I suppose you're right,' I said, smiling, for really she was right. It was not the excellent women who got married but people like Allegra Gray, who was no good at sewing, and Helena Napier, who left all the washing up.  'I can't change now. I'm afraid it's too late.' I felt it would not sound very convincing if I said I hadn't really wanted to marry Julian Malory. I was obviously regarded in the parish as the chief of the rejected ones and I must fill the position with as much dignity as I could.
      'You're not bad-looking,' said Mrs. Malory quickly and then looked shocked, as if she had gone too far. She bent down, unhooked the bag from the Hoover and shook out a great mound of dust on to a newspaper. 'Things happen, even at the last minute,' she said mysteriously. 'Not that you'd want to marry a man who'd been divorced. Too much of this old divorce, there is,' she muttered, going out into the kitchen with the bundle of dust. I heard her say there was a drop of milk in the jug that would do for my tea.
      She left me feeling a little shaken, almost as if I really had failed in some kind of duty and must take immediate action to make up for it. I must go to Julian and not do things for him and then he might reject Allegra and marry me. As for Rocky, in his cottage surrounded by nettles, perhaps it did not matter how much I did for him since he could never be regarded as a possible husband.

from Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym


1 comment:

Cosy Books said...

'chief of the neglected ones'...oh, that is too funny.

It's a wonder ladies had time to do anything at all apart from preparing tea, baking cakes, and making a suitable match!

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