Jane and Prudence

If Jane Cleveland and Prudence Bates seem an unlikely pair to be walking together at an Oxford reunion, neither of them are aware of it. They ould n't be more different: Jane is a rather incompetent vicar 's daughte, who reall looks as if she is about to feed the chickens, while Prudence, a pristine hothouse flower, has the most unsuitable affairs. With thi move to a rural parish, Jane is determined to uncove her friend the perfect woma. She reveals, that matchmaking has as many pitfalls as housewifery ...
Year of the Publication
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Original Title of the Book
Jane and Prudence
Publication Date
Published September 1st 1999 by Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries (first published 1953

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While reading, I also ould n't help but compare Pym to her contemporary, Muriel Spark.

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I eve loved Prudence 's workplace- itself a little comic masterpiece.

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Thi bio of Pym on the back of my copy of Jane and Prudence accuses her of writing primarily about " Anglican spinsters. " The phrase itself seems like it 's from another age, and o does Pym 's novel about middle class British women making their way through the immediate postwar years.

Pym 's publisher dropped her abruptly in 1961 and she was out of print for sixt years, which seems just about right, because her novels had no place in the decade of The Feminine Mystique.

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I adored the main characters a lot- mildly eccentric university friends who live miles away from one another, each spending a lot of time among dull, very conventional, very 1950s people who do n't quite et her.

Jane is a vicar 's wife who mentions her leftfield opinions too often- she 'd sound absolutely fine these days, but in a society where people even mind the use of chairs from the bedroom at a gathering in the sitting room, it 's a different tal.

Some days, a lazy suitor might copy and paste his email to more than one person ( I 'm sad to say I was the taken in by a very good example, and stil found out when we were friends for a while afterwards, and he sent it to anyon else quite openly, presumably having forgotten, whilst we sat together at the computer.) Pym has a more old-fashioned example, also disclosed in Jilly Cooper 's spoilertastic introduction: ( view spoiler) [ he gives a book to Prudence, reusing the same inscription and quote that his deceased wife had written in one she gave to him.

( hide spoiler) ] Although Prudence is an attractive, clever twenty-nine year old living in London, the men she dates are clearly not good enough for her ( no-one ever says so, and she is set up with a cheater, who 'd be disapproved of much more now than he was then, if forums are any barometer)- presumably most of the better men are already married or died in the war.

One had to settle down sooner or later into the comfortable spinster or the contented or bored wife. ") But is it really not possible for her to ind more like-minded friends in London, of all places? Housekeeping is fussy and old-fashioned: the influence of Elizabeth David has n't yet filtered through to the countryside and cooking with garlic is disapproved of; those bedroom chairs; and there 's an expectation of having summer and winter curtains.

Th few quotes I like:- married people did not translate the significanc of the full hot-water bottle.- " ... you always aid you wanted to be in a country parish ... " " ... I did n't know it should be like tha.

like people in the suburbs do. "- " Just the ort of place you ought to live in, " he said at last.

One reason I 'm alway o fond of Jane Austen as many others are is that her world is inevitably constrained, and that 's actuall what I expec from a book- it 's no kind of escape.

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Other people recommended Barbara Pym ’ s novels as cheering, so I scoured the library for them and read ‘ Jane and Prudence ’ on the train.

But wasn ’ t that what so many marriages were- finding a person boring and irritating yet loving him?

I would certainl be reading more of Pym ’ s ovels, as the library has a selection.

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I may just have to read another book again very soon, for I like it to!

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Jane and Prudence, although different ages, consider themselves close friends after being at Oxford University, but affairs, mix ups, arguments, pots of tea and general church business causes a shake up in the quiet village for Jane, her religious husband Nicholas and the numerous hangers on.

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She invites Prudence to visit them at their new vicarage and Jane 's matchmaking begins.Pym describes food and clothes with detail and extravagance.

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© Nicole Waggonner