uartet in Autumn PDF ï uartet in MOBI :Ê

uartet in Autumn [Epub] ➜ uartet in Autumn Author 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 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 There is nevertheless an obstinate optimism in her characters allowing them in their different ways to win through uartet in MOBI :Ê to a kind of hope Barbara Pym’s sensitive wit and artistry are at their most sparkling in uartet in Autumn.

10 thoughts on “uartet in Autumn

  1. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This was recommended to me by various bloggers and certainly lived up to their praise Originally published in 1977 this was Pym’s seventh novel out of nine; she died in 1980 It’s about four London office workers all sixty somethings who are partnerless and don’t have or at least don’t live with any immediate family members We never learn what they do in this office; in fact Edwin Norman Letty and Marcia don’t seem to be filling much of a need especially given the fact that the two old girls aren’t replaced when they retire midway through the novelFor as long as they’ve been working together the four haven’t given in to the usual human impulse to know and be known At first there doesn’t seem to be much to know about them; with only one or two shorthand facts apiece it’s a minor challenge to tell them apart Widower Edwin’s hobby is attending Anglican services; Norman lives off fried food and visits his brother in law in hospital; Letty lives in a boarding house and has a friend in the countryside; Marcia has had a mastectomy and hoards tinned food and empty milk bottlesBut for all of them a line applied to Letty holds true “It was a comfortable enough life if a little sterile perhaps even deprived” Especially after her retirement Letty knows “she must never give the slightest hint of loneliness or boredom the sense of time hanging heavy”From what I’d heard about Pym I might have expected a lighthearted satire about country manners and Anglican vicars Perhaps that’s a fair assessment of some of her earlier books? But this is much darker and the humor always has a bitter edgeWhen Marcia finds a plastic bag labeled “To avoid danger of suffocation keep this wrapper away from babies and children” the narrator adds “They could have said from middle aged and elderly persons too who might well have an irresistible urge to suffocate themselves”Offered the option of moving into a care home Letty thinks “better to lie down in the wood under the beech leaves and bracken and wait uietly for death”Overall it’s uite a melancholy little book a warning against letting your life become too small and private Yet the last line remarkably is a sudden injection of optimism “it made one realize that life still held infinite possibilities for change” I’d recommend this to readers who have enjoyed Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth TaylorOriginally published with images on my blog Bookish Beck

  2. Hugh Hugh says:

    I have been hearing good things about Barbara Pym for a while and this short novel which earned her only Booker shortlisting seemed like the obvious place to start It is gentle poignant and sharply witty The leading characters are all of a certain age around 60 and single and at the start of the book they are all sharing a London office where they do clerical workThe plot revolves around the contrasting retirements of the two women Letty and Marcia Letty lives in a shared house and Marcia has inherited a house Marcia is recovering from a mastectomy and is the most eccentric of the four though the two men Edwin and Norman are not far behind Marcia is a hoarder and due to fears of another war she keeps a collection of hundreds of milk bottles in a garden shed and a cupboard full of canned food which being almost anorexic she never touches Letty has a friend in the country who she planned to move in with but who is now engaged to a much younger vicar Edwin spends most of his free time attending church services and eventsI found this book a very enjoyable read and would recommend it

  3. Katie Lumsden Katie Lumsden says:

    This is a very good novel poignant and solemn and smart all at once The way Pym explores loneliness and the skill with which she paints her characters make it an impressive and important book

  4. Wanda Wanda says:

    This little novel probably appealed to me so strongly because these four people are in the zone that I currently inhabit—they are reaching retirement age and wondering if they are ready for this next phase of lifeI’m currently flailing around trying to determine if I have the financial resources necessary to pull the plug because like Letty and Marcia I never married and I’m now responsible for my own future But how times have changed—I’m no longer at the mercy of the government pension to determine how my future unfolds and I’ve been able to plan better things for myselfStill I understand the uncertainties of retirement How will my days be structured? What activities will fill my time? Will I still be able to afford many of the activities that I currently enjoy? Poverty in old age is a perennial worry something that has soaked into my bones I think single women of my vintage have a horror of becoming bag ladies and having to eat cat food Financial advisors rarely understand this worry—they don’t live on the same financial edge that many older single women do I remember when one of my friends was looking for housing for her elderly mother in the UK She told me she looked at too many places where “You wouldn’t want to leave your coat let alone your mother” I think we’ve all heard horror stories of homes for the elderly where they are abused andor neglected The problem of where to live is the big one Does one stay at home and go odd like Marcia? Or take small steps towards taking control like Letty?I’m hoping to be in the Letty camp—once I’m retired I hope to start looking around for the next living situation and plan out the next number of years I think most of us still feel younger than we are in our own heads—referring to myself as elderly seems ridiculous to me but I’m sure I seem that way to the younger people in my life Still I need to get planning adventures for the post work phase of life and this book has been both a comfort and an inspiration for that

  5. Cynthia Cynthia says:

    “uartet” is the first of her books written after a hiatus It was also written after her own breast cancer surgery It’s much darker than her earlier novels Her trademark sly humor is still intact though there’s a gallows feel to it The story is about four 60 something work colleagues two men and two women right on the cusp of their retirement Pym too had recently left her long time editing job due to ill health As always the characters are utterly uniue Norman is an angry man barely able to contain his rage to expected levels Edwin a widower is a church hopper structuring his time around the ecclesiastical calendar always searching for the church with the best service Letty is a gentle soul who’s never married but has one close female friend from her youth Marcia is an anomaly Lost odd obsessive suffering from ill health When Marcia and Letty retire the four are separated but events keep bringing them together and not always for happy eventsI love Pym’s subtly the blind allies she leads us down the insights you have to suss out for yourself the unexpected out of place humor the heart tugs that don’t spill over into schmaltzbut just barely I think in “uartet” she’s at her best though if you’ve read her earlier books it might jolt you with its darker tone

  6. Skye Skye says:

    I enjoyed this story that was of a character study of four elderly office workers that lived uiet lives in London during the 1970's Each character had their own uniue uirks but ultimately their rigidness turned into a tale of loneliness

  7. ·Karen· ·Karen· says:

    I don't think she's that underrated actuallyview spoilerIn 1977 the Times Literary Supplement polled a host of literary notables asking them to name the most underrated writer of the 20th century Pym was the only author who received than one vote; Larkin and Lord David Cecil both picked her hide spoiler

  8. Ali Ali says:

    When I first read uartet in Autumn I think I found it a little sad – veering towards depressing Maybe this is the kind of book that one needs to be in the right frame of mind for This time I found I really loved it Although this novel does seem to be a bit different from other Barbara Pym novels there are still plenty of Pymisms to be found This was the novel that was published in 1977 after Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil had both separately and independently of each other named Barbara Pym as the most under rated novelist It was also the novel which found her nominated for the Booker Prize There certainly is a melancholic feeling to ‘uartet in Autumn’ – focusing as it does on four lonely people as they approach retirement from a dull unimportant office job “That day the four of them went to the library though at different times The library assistant if he had noticed them at all would have seen them as people who belonged together in some way”Edwin Marcia Norman and Letty – work together in an unspecified office They have worked together for a number of years – and although they are a similar age – they don’t socialise out of work or have any kind of personal relationship Letty and Norman each live in bedsits – while Marcia and Edwin each live alone in what were family homes Edwin in the home he shared with his wife Marcia in the house she lived in with her parents Edwin likes to visit churches in his lunch hour; Letty sometimes goes to the library Marcia remembers with fond nostalgia her time in hospital where she under went ‘major surgery’ under the auspices of Mr Strong for whom she nurses tender feelings In the shed in her over grown garden Marcia hoards empty milk bottles just as she hoards tinned food – although barely eats anything When Letty finds the house she lives in is sold to a new landlord a pastor of an obscure African church she is nervous of the noisy lively family he brings with him and with Edwin’s help re locates to a new room in the home of octogenarian Mrs Pole Marcia and Letty retire before Edwin and Norman remember the days when women retired five years earlier than men? – and while Marcia and Letty need to adjust and find ways of filling their days Edwin and Norman occasionally wonder how “the girls” are getting on Marcia is annoyed by a medical social worker who keeps trying to call while Letty settles into a new routine with Mrs Pole “In Mrs Pole’s house the telephone rang just as she and Letty were settling down to watch television They uite often did this now and although it had started by Mrs Pope suggesting that Letty might like to watch the news or some improving programme of cultural or scientific interest there was now hardly an evening when Letty did not come down to watch whatever happened to be on the box whether it was worthy of attention or not”The story of these uiet sad lonely people are not entirely dispiriting though while Marcia becomes obsessive and secretive – Letty at least shows she is able to remain positive and move forward in her life even beginning to reach out to the people around her by the end of the novelA novel of four ageing lonely people who have out lived their usefulness – whose jobs when they retire will not be re filled – is understandably poignant but it is also shot through with Barbara Pym’s sharp humour In ‘uartet in Autumn’ Barbara Pym seems in part to have been examining the fate of single elderly people who is it that will look out for them? Whose responsibility is it to see that someone is taking the necessary care of themselves? The system as Pym must have seen existing in the 1970’s is seen to fail Marcia – who seems to slip through the social care net These characters who I once found so sad spoke to me in a completely different way this time Barbara Pym’s minute observations of people are uite brilliant the humour and pathos are handled deftly and saved this from being overwhelmingly sorrowful

  9. Josh Friedlander Josh Friedlander says:

    There's something magnetic about Barbara Pym's prose and her prickly very private isolated protagonists On the book's cover each of the characters faces away from the centre; indeed a very superficial reader might leave this book with the impression that the characters don't much like each other But that would be to mistake their very British reserve for lack of compassion On the contrary there is so much compassion in the awkward way that the four retired protagonists connect Their thoughts run unbidden to one another the tiny echoes of past interactions in the absence of pressing current concerns dictate their inner and outer livesPym's ability to write the uotidian rhythm of life without losing the reader is both artistic triumph and a reaction to the hegemony of the young Away from the current of social change of 1970s England though not unaware of it away from the passion of youth and the caprice of narrative uartet in Autumn finds humanity and hope in uiet and unnoticed lives In life we are become death thinks one of the characters but this book's vitality reverses that drawing the continued possibility of change and growth from some forgotten place between office drudgery and the grave

  10. Sandy Sandy says:

    Realistic but sad portrayal of four retirement age people who work together in one office but are not really friends They are all uirky and lonely people who over time and because of the death of one of them seem to become aware that all they have is each other The end is very optimistic and hopeful but the book is rather a drudgery of humdrum daily lives Perhaps because I am at that stage of life the message hits too close to home Barbara Pym has the reputation of being a wonderful author so I will give her a second chance

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