Wednesday, February 10

a glass of blessings

I scooped this book off the shelf during my last flying-visit to the library. I have always wanted to try Barbara Pym and this one had the prettiest cover, so....

It was a pleasant read and I found several lines that brought me here to set them down...but on the whole, I couldn't get close to it. The characters seemed so detached and sophisticated that I could never warm up to them.

But here are some delightful, sometimes picturesque snippets:

"...I came to the conclusion that people who went to evening classes were all more or less odd. It was unnatural to want to acquire knowledge after working hours."

"Some graves were very old, their headstones broken and overgrown with ivy, reminding me of tumbled unmade beds."

"I really cannot wait in the queue. I am Miss Daunt,' I heard her say in a loud ringing tone. 'My blood is Rhesus negative, the most valuable kind. I have a letter from the Regional Director. This precious blood,' she read,'that is the phrase used.'

'This precious blood,' she murmured, and began muttering to herself, first about her blood and then about irrelevant things which I could only half hear-a quarrel with somebody about a broken milk bottle and what they had said to each other. It seemed like a 'stream of consciousness' novel, but i was relieved when she stopped talking for I had been afraid that she might address me. Virginia Woolf might have brought something away from the experience, I thought; perhaps writers always do this, from situations that merely shock and embarrass ordinary people."

This scene caught my attention because I have Rh negative blood and then just made me laugh. Now when I give blood it will be hard not to dramatically refer to my "precious blood"!

"But in the meantime there was the excitement, which I still felt, of the Christmas post arriving two or three times a day in the week before Christmas Day."

*sigh* Imagine a world where that still happened!

"There is another little parcel you seem to have forgotten,' said Sybil, pointing to a little soft square package wrapped in holly paper. 'Oh dear, it's two handkerchiefs from Mary,' I said, 'and I didn't give her anything."

I liked this because I could imagine the soft little package with two hand-embroidered handkerchiefs inside, folded many times into a small bundle, something that seems a sweet and satisfying gift to make and give.

"But there was hardly time to consider whether we should ring or not, for the moment we set foot on the doorstep I noticed a curtain at the ground floor window being flicked aside and heard footsteps within. Evidently Mr. Bason had been watching for our arrival in a rather Cranfordian way.

I finally discovered Cranford this Winter (not the book yet, just the Masterpiece Theatre) so I could truly appreciate this.

'No, I despise women who are always knitting,' said Sybil. 'Buti it can be a useful occupation-the kind of thing one can do when talking.'

'I wonder if women brought their knitting when Oscar Wilde talked,' said Piers.

'I daresay not,' said Sybil calmly, 'but that doesn't mean they wouldn't have liked to.'