As you will see as soon as you take a look at the photo, the system breaks down a bit at this point. My largely alphabetical arrangement suddenly gets fudged up by some non-fiction related to Barbara Pym; a stack of Melville House novellas; and the start of my Persephone collection. The homogeneous design of the both the Melville House and the Persephones required me to keep them together rather than intershelve them according to their authors. I’m not saying I won’t ever do it, but I truly can’t imagine ever doing it. And just wait until you see the next shelf. One shelf of nothing by Persephone gray.
SHELF NINETEEN: 50 Books, 19 unread, 31 read, 62% completed
Pym, Barbara – No Fond Return of Love (completed)
Pym, Barbara – Crampton Hodnet (completed)(twice)
Pym, Barbara – Excellent Women (completed)(twice)
Pym, Barbara – Less Than Angels (completed)
Pym, Barbara – Jane and Prudence (completed)(twice)
Pym, Barbara – A Glass of Blessings (completed)(thrice)
Pym, Barbara – Some Tame Gazelle (completed)
Pym, Barbara – A Few Green Leaves (completed)
Pym, Barbara – An Academic Question
Pym, Barbara – Civil to Strangers
Pym, Barbara – An Unsuitable Attachment (completed)
Pym, Barbara – The Sweet Dove Died (completed)
Pym, Barbara – Quartet in Autumn (completed)
Pym, Barbara – A Very Private Eye (non-fiction)
Cocking, Yvonne – Barbara in the Bodleian (non-fiction)
Burkhart, Charles – The Pleasure of Miss Pym (non-fiction)
Holt, Hazel – A Lot to Ask (non-fiction)(completed)
Bell, Hazel, ed. – No Soft Incense: Barbara Pym and the Church (non-fiction)
Pym, Hilary and Honor Wyatt – The Barbara Pym Cookbook (non-fiction)(completed)
Wow. If you couldn’t tell from reading my blog, you most certainly can see now how much I LOVE Barbara Pym. Not only have I read all but two of her novels, I’ve read three of them twice and one of them thrice. The odd thing is the ones I have read multiple times are not necessarily my favorites.
So, what’s that? You say you haven’t gotten around to Barbara Pym yet? Well, get off your butt, get one of her novels, get back on your butt, and read one. The one that gets the most attention, and for good reason, is Excellent Women. However, I think Some Tame Gazelle is wonderful and not a bad place to start with Pym. And for those of you that like things a little darker, try Quartet in Autumn. It’s a bit Brookneresque but sunnier. For the academic nerd in your life, you can’t go wrong with No Fond Return of Love. It starts at an indexer’s conference and turns into a bit of a stalker tale.
Pym really was a genius. The world she creates is gentle but not twee. Her powers of observation are superb. Her writing is lovely and often funny. But she’s got stuff to say. These are far from fluff. At the risk of overhyping her, I think there is no other author that makes me as happy as Pym does.
And by the by, I have indeed baked a few things out of the cookbook. The recipes are a bit like the technical challenges on The Great British Bakeoff in that they don’t always give you enough information for a successful bake. A little baking intuition and cross-referencing with other recipes of the same type are recommended. If you would like to see my baking efforts from Pym Week in 2013 follow this link.
Svevo, Italo – The Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl
Melville, Herman – Benito Cereno
James, Henry – The Lesson of the Master
Wharton, Edith – The Touchstone (completed)
Howells, William Dean – A Sleep and a Forgetting (completed)
James, Henry – The Coxon Fund
Turgenev, Ivan – First Love
Dostoevsky, Fyodor – The Eternal Husband
Constant, Benjamin – Adolphe (completed)
Joyce, James – The Dead (completed)
Twain, Mark – The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg
Gogol, Nikolai – How the Two Ivans Quarrelled
Tolstoy, Leo – The Death of Ivan Ilych
Morely, Christopher – Parnassus on Wheels
Proust, Marcel – The Lemoine Affair
Austen, Jane – Lady Susan (completed)
Chopin, Kate – The Awakening (completed)
Flaubert, Gustave – A Simple Heart (completed)
Kipling, Rudyard – The Man Who Would Be King (completed)
Jewett, Sarah Orne – The Country of the Pointed Firs (completed)
Pushkin, Alexander – Tales of Belkin (completed)
von Kleist, Heinrich – Michael Kohlhaas (completed)
Tolstoy, Leo – The Devil (completed)
de Balzac, Honore – The Girl with the Golden Eyes
Stevenson, R.L. – The Beach of Falesa
Back in August 2011 Frances at Nonsuch Book decided to read all Melville House’s Art of the Novella novellas in one month. At that time there were about 42 of them. She was crazy to try and I was even crazier for joining her. I think it was the lure of a set of books that caused me to order all of them. I only finished 19 of them, and oddly, not all of those 19 are here. Either I got rid of them at some point or they are lurking somewhere else. Of those I completed, I really loved A Simple Heart by Flaubert, Austen’s Lady Susan, and surprisingly given how much I hate his other work, I really loved The Dead by James Joyce. And The Awakening is one of my favorite books. One that I didn’t keep was Mary Shelley’s Mathilda. I hated that book so much it made me angry.
Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe arrived just as I finished re-reading Anita Brookner’s novel Providence. So what? I’ll tell you what, the protagonist in the Providence was a scholar of Adolphe and the work was woven into the Brookner novel. I liked Adolphe, but the experience of reading right after Brookner heightened my enjoyment and comprehension of it.
Downes, Mollie Panter – Good Evening, Mrs. Craven (completed)
Dickens, Monica – Mariana (completed)
Whipple, Dorothy – Someone at a Distance (completed)
Strachey, Jessica – Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (completed)
Crompton, Richmal – Family Roundabout (completed)
Burnett, Frances Hodgson – The Making of a Marchioness (completed)
The two Persephone books at the left in their gray livery are indicative of the cover design for almost all Persephone books. However, they also publish some of their more popular titles with more colorful colors. In general I really like and often love most of what Persephone reissues. From the group above, I absolutely adored the Crompton, I liked Making of a Marchioness far more than I did The Shuttle, Burnett’s other Persephone. Someone at a Distance is a very popular Whipple but I think it is my least favorite. Next shelf, you are going to get to see nothing but Persephones.
NEXT TIME: Persephone to Persephone