I don't remember exactly when I read my first Barbara Pym novel, but I think I was in my 20's. I eventually read all 12 of her novels (here's a complete list of her published novels), but it was a long time ago. In the past few years I've suggested her novels to friends and fellow Anglophiles, but no one to whom I had suggested them fell in love with them as I did.
I'd been thinking that I'd like to read them again when I learned that A Glass of Blessings was about to be reissued in an ebook format. I vaguely remembered that this was my favorite of Pym's novels. Along with the Pym's characteristic bittersweet tone I also picked up on a strain of humor that I enjoyed. I received an advance galley through NetGalley, and started reading it on my nook.
A Glass of Blessings is the story of a young English woman, Wilmet Forsythe, who lives with her husband Rodney and his mother Sybil in London. With nothing to occupy her time, Wilmet becomes involved with the parishioners of the neighborhood church she has started to attend. This colorful cast of characters includes elderly Father Thames, a collector of fine art, mild and dumpy Father Bode, and the newest assistant, Father Ransome, who cuts a rather dashing figure. Rounding out this group are Mary Beamish, a young woman devoted to good works, and Wilf Bason, the new cook for the Clergy House. In addition, Wilmet also feels drawn to Piers Longridge, the ne'er-do-well brother of her dear friend Rowena. When Piers seems to take an interest in her she is flattered, but Piers' secretive life complicates the relationship.
Like all of Pym's works, A Glass of Blessings is a quiet slice-of-life story about a specific class of people in post-war England. Nothing too serious ever happens, and the characters are interesting, if not particularly deep. What I appreciate about these stories is that they take me to another time and place where I can spend an enjoyable few hours. I'm looking forward to re-reading more of Pym's novels, and hope that more will be reissued in digital format.