Friday, January 02, 2009

An Academic Question

I fell head-over-heels in love with Barbara Pym after reading Excellent Women, professing to read everything she ever wrote. It turns out the book I somewhat randomly pulled off the library shelf turns out to be "not her best". Oh well. It was quite good, but wouldn't have turned me into a Pym fan.

This one is called An Academic Question, and was published posthumously from several drafts. Uh-oh. It lacks the wittiness of Excellent Women, as well as the positivity of the main character, who is so charming, intelligent and strong. An Academic Question centers around a wife who's husband, an academic, puts her in a very awkward position. The book does have some interesting aspects, such as the very straightforward way she writes about the main character's gay friend, or her sister's abortion:
"...What is Coco exactly?-- I mean, sexually."

"Well, nothing, really," I said, embarrassed.

"But he must be something," A note of irritation had now come into Iris's voice--irritation and impatience at my ignorant stupidity.

"You mean hetero or homosexual?"

"Of course that's what I mean," she mocked. "Surely you must know."

"We've never talked about it. In any case, are people to be classified as simply as that? Some people just love themselves."

It's a perfectly fine book, but it just didn't make me laugh the way her other book did. Next up for me is her No Fond Return of Love - review to come soon!

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