Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym

It was a wet Sunday afternoon in North Oxford at the beginning of October. The laurel bushes which bordered the path leading to Leamington Lodge, Banbury Road, were dripping with rain. A few sodden chrysanthemums, dahlias and zinnias drooped in the flower beds on the lawn. The house had been built in the sixties of the last century, of yellowish brick, with a gabled roof and narrow Gothic windows set in frames of ornamental stonework. A long red and blue stained-glass window looked into a landing halfway up the pitch-pine staircase, and there were panels of the same glass let into the front door, giving an ecclesiastical effect, so that, except for a glimpse of unlikely lace curtains, the house might have been a theological college. It seemed very quiet now at twenty past three, and upstairs in her big front bedroom Miss Maude Doggett was having her usual rest. There was still half an hour before her heavy step would be heard on the stairs and her loud, firm voice calling to her companion, Miss Morrow.

How can one resist this opening paragraph of Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym. I am ready to follow Miss Doggett and Miss Morrow anywhere.

Ever the sly one, Barbara Mary Crampton Pym used one of her own names in the title of this novel which was completed in 1940 but was not published until 1985. It is one of four novels published after Ms. Pym's death in 1980.

There are thirteen published novels in all and also her diaries published in 1985 under the title A Very Private Eye.

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