Author(s): Barbara Pym
Mildred Lathbury is one of those 'excellent women' who is often taken for granted. She is a godsend, 'capable of dealing with most of the stock situations of life - birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sales, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather'. As such, though, she often gets herself embroiled in other people's lives - and especially those of her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks. One cannot take sides in these matters, though it is tricky, especially when Mildred, teetering on the edge of spinsterhood, has a soft spot for dashing young Rockingham Napier. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest and most touching.
'One of the finest examples of high comedy' Lord David Cecil 'I don't think I've ever before recommended a novel as one that everybody will enjoy and yet - even with a certain assurance - I'm prepared to vouch for EXCELLENT WOMEN' Marghanita Laski, OBSERVER 'I pick up her books with joy, as though I were meeting an old, dear friend who comforts me, extends my vision and makes me roar with laughter' Jilly Cooper.
Barbara Pym was born in Shropshire and educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford. When in 1977 the TLS asked critics to name the most underrated authors of the past 75 years, only Pym was named twice. Her novels are characterised by what Anne Tyler has called 'the heartbreaking silliness of everyday life'. She died in 1980.