April 5, 2015

Oh, dear...

“You’ll see it’s exactly like her novels. Everyone here is from their pages,” Laura Shapiro said, when I told her that this was my first time at the Barbara Pym Society’s annual North American conference. It was a Friday night in the middle of March and we were standing with sixty or so other Pym fans in the wood-panelled hall of the Episcopalian Church of the Advent in Boston. On the tables where we would shortly eat dinner were milk bottles full of tulips and daffodils. “I’m so glad we’re not having Pymian food,” I heard a professor of literature say, alluding perhaps to the solitary meals — a boiled egg or half a tin of baked beans — often eaten by her heroines. A woman at my table was telling her companion that her father, a clergyman in New York, retired in 1959. Before the evening was out, I would have three separate conversations about Anthony Trollope. This is Pym’s world:genteel, literary, largely female, located somewhere between academia and the church.
—  from “ Barbara Pym and the New Spinster,” by Hannah Rosefield, in The New Yorker

With many thanks to Fleur for sharing this, I just couldn't resist saving it for posterity. :)

{The illustration is by Vivienne Strauss, found here.}


JoAnn said...

Ha! You just made my morning... thanks :)

Terra said...

That is a lovely passage and quite an event to attend, I imagine.

JaneGS said...

Loved the comment about the Pymian food!

Sounds like a wonderful meeting.