Literary Giants: Excellent Women

An unqualifiedly great novel from the writer most likely to be compared to Jane Austen, this is a very funny, perfectly written book that can rival any other in its ability to capture the essence of its characters on the page. Mildred Lathbury, the narrator of Pym's excellent book is a never-married woman in her 30s--which in 1950s England makes her a nearly-confirmed spinster. Hers is a pretty unexciting life, centered around her small church, and part-time job. But Mildred is far more perceptive and witty than even she seems to think, and when Helena and Rockingham Napier move into the flat below her, there seems to be a chance for her life to take a new direction. This early comic novel, which was hailed by Lord David Cecil as one of "the finest examples of high comedy to have appeared in England during the past seventy-five years," helped launch the rediscovery of the author's entire work. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest. (Amazon)