One of my daughter’s teachers told her that all real readers are RE-readers, and as if to prove that point, my first book of 2008 is indeed a re-read, a wonderful novel by the fabulous Barbara Pym, No Fond Return of Love.
I first read this book more than twenty years ago. My grandmother discovered Barbara Pym (1913-1980) in her last years and passed a few paperbacks along to my mother and me. Then I went to work in a bookstore and began collecting her books in earnest. A winner of the Booker Prize, Barbara Pym was often compared to Jane Austen for her portrayal of British life from the post-WWII era on into the 1960’s. No Fond Return of Love, published in 1961 (the year I was born) tells the story of a woman in her early 30’s who has a love of researching other people’s lives. The book is amusing and literate and even contains a reference to Miss Austen (and one of my favorite books, at that). I also recently re-read (in late 2007) both Jane and Prudence and Excellent Women (now published in the Penguin Classics series).
I have enjoyed these books as a young woman, a 30ish stay-at-home mom and now I am loving them again at mid-life. (And I do believe they have survived bubble baths in three different decades!) Just wish the print in the paperbacks didn’t keep shrinking…
Pym understood the absurdity of love and expressed it with a wry gentleness and great intelligence. If you don’t know her books, I hope you’ll try one!