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8 Apr 2:30am

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne – the ‘modern Jane Austen’?

The Guardian
This excellent cradle-to-grave biography of a much loved novelist who goes in and out of fashion captures her alarming habits and tormented love affairs In 1971 the author Barbara Pym was at her day job at the International African Institute when she noticed “Mr C” laboriously attacking his lunchtime sandwich with a knife and fork. Pym made a mental note of the detail before asking herself ruefully, “Oh why can’t I write about things like that any more – why is this kind of thing no longer acceptable?” Ten years earlier, Jonathan Cape had dumped her after her sixth book on the grounds that her brand of anthropological observation of English social manners was old lady-ish, dull and didn’t sell. As an extra humiliation, no other publishing house had been interested in picking up Miss Pym: books built on “the daily round of trivial things” could hardly compete with Frederick Forsyth’s
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