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Delightfully mundane

Cover of Quartet in Autumn
A review of Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym
"This is the story of four people in late middle-age - Edwin, Norman, Letty and Marcia - whose chief point of contact is that they work in the same office and they suffer the same problem - loneliness. Lovingly, poignantly, satirically and with much humor, Pym conducts us through their small lives and the facade they erect to defend themselves against the outside world."
Why do I love this book? First of all, Pym’s sparkling, perfect writing. She is a master of dry, wry wit, of dialogue, and of subtle spare prose. Second, she’s created these crazy characters who are so normal, yet bizarrely unique. We get into each person’s head, going from one internal monologue to another. As usual in her novels, nothing much happens. They go to work (what do they do??), they have tea, they have lunch, they go to the library, they go to church, they go home. One character wonders if they really exist and experiences a sense of nothingness. Most of her other novels are set in pre-feminist times, but all them are focused on the inner lives and concerns of her kooky characters who still find a kind of hope. In this day when everything is so ridiculously complex and busy, the mundane lives of these people are a relief.
Aug 7, 2023