A Few Green Leaves
As big a fan as I am of Barbara Pym—indeed she may be my favorite author of all time—I have yet to finish all of her novels. Now that I have finished A Few Green Leaves, I think I only have one left, Civil to Strangers. And that one is only an unfinished fragment I think. Part of the reason I am so unclear on some of these points is that I have been keeping myself from knowing too much about her and her work. As if keeping myself in the dark will somehow make it seem like there are reams of her work still to discover. I really shouldn’t worry. I’ve already discovered that re-reading Pym novels is even better than reading the for the first time.
From it’s opening line, A Few Green Leaves sets the reader smack in the middle of Pym’s universe.
On the Sunday after Easter—Low Sunday, Emma believed it was called—the villagers were permitted to walk in the park and woods surrounding the manor. She had not been sure whether to come on the walk or not. It was her first weekend in the village, and she had been planning to observe the inhabitants in the time-honoured manner from behind the shadow of her curtains.
What follows is the comings and goings of village life centered around the rectory and the doctors’ surgery. Potential love interests both local and imported, flower rosters, pubs, the Church Times, The Archers, and Women’s Hour. It’s as observant as E.F. Benson but without the sting and snark. Perhaps more so than Pym’s other novels, A Few Green Leaves is more about the journey and less about the destination.