Monday, May 11, 2015

Back to the Classics Challenge: Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym


Some Tame Gazelle (1950), Barbara Pym's first novel, is the story of the Bede sisters, the spinsters Belinda and Harriet, who live together in an English village in Oxfordshire. Of the two sisters, Harriet is the more vivacious. She plays the piano and is quite attractive. She enjoys the periodic marriage proposal from a charming Italian count who also lives in the village. Of course, Harriet must refuse him. Harriet also has an interest in curates and wants to be an important figure in their lives, especially when a new curate comes to town. Sometimes it seems like Harriet wants to be more of a mother figure to the new curate, but at other times, it appears that Harriet has more of a romantic interest.

Belinda, on the other hand, keeps most of her thoughts to herself. Possibly the worst kept secret of hers is her abiding adoration of Archdeacon Hoccleve, a pompous, arrogant man who was her first love. He is in a loveless marriage with the sometimes difficult Agatha. Belinda is able to overlook his multitude of faults and only see the man that she loves. 

In this traditional village, the subject of marriage is an important one. When a suitor comes to town with a marriage proposal for one of the sisters, the question becomes whether marriage will be a happier proposition for this particular Bede sister than continuing to live as she has done with her sister.

While Some Tame Gazelle is not big on plot, it is a nice, quiet kind of story. I love Pym's writing about the little post World War II village and its happenings. She has a lovely way of revealing little bits and pieces about the characters, and the book has much humor. 

This is my second Barbara Pym book, having read An Unsuitable Attachment last year. An Unsuitable Attachment is a different kind of book, and I liked it more, but I also recommend Some Tame Gazelle.

I read Some Tame Gazelle for the Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate, for the category of Forgotten Classic.



6 comments:

  1. My favorite Pym novel is Excellent Women, but I did like this one. I have A Few Green Leaves sitting on my shelf that I need to read this year. Hopefully, it's as good as her others. I haven't read An Unsuitable Attachment yet, but am looking forward to it. Congrats for finishing another books for the Back to the Classics Challenge. :)

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    1. Thanks, Lark! I've heard great things about Excellent Women. It's on my bookshelf, and I'm hoping to get to it this year. I really enjoy Pym's writing.

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  2. I've yet to meet a Pym novel I haven't enjoyed! Excellent Women, Jane and Prudence, A Quartet in Autumn, and A Glass of Blessings, along with Some Tame Gazelle are all wonderful. A Few Green Leaves is waiting on the shelf.

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    1. I have a list (that's gotten way too long) of authors whose work I love and and want to read all of, and Barbara Pym is on that list!

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  3. I read all of Pym's novels when they were reprinted in the late 70s and early 80s. Now they are "classics" I am feeling old!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nancy! How wonderful that you've read all her novels! I want to do that as well.

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