A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym

226981  This was one of the later Pym novels.  Published in the year of her death and set in the 70s.  It revolves around a small village, an anthropologist who is writing and studying the inhabitants, the rector and his unmarried sister and various other villagers.  The setting is appealing, as is the story.  A slice of life in this village that seems to have been left behind with its quaint sherry parties, hunger luncheons, afternoons of walking and blackberry gathering, and flower arranging debates.

Emma, the anthropologist, is first an outsider, observing village life and the inhabitants in a cool scientific manner.  She begins her adaptation to village life primarily to gain better observations for her writing, but later she becomes a true member of the community.  The rector, Tom is a widower, who rambles about the village in a rather disorganized manner.  He seems quite at odds with what to do with himself.  It is left to the women, to organize, clean, feed, supervise and maintain the social graces.  These are the same excellent women that have appeared throughout Pym’s work, here there seems to be a sense of nostalgia and yet at the same time still an acknowledgement of their importace.

The characters, story, and setting are all endearing in Pym style.  There is, in my reading, almost a wistfulness about the writing that is not present in the earlier works by Barbara Pym that I have read.  The book ends with a sense of hope for Emma and the village itself.  Utterly charming and breath of fresh air, I would definitely recommend reading A Few Green Leaves.

 

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