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A Few Green Leaves (1980)

by Barbara Pym

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6282632,090 (3.86)1 / 101
'.an incisive and wry portrait of life in an Engish village in Oxfordshire.'
  1. 10
    Spiderweb by Penelope Lively (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels feature an unmarried woman anthropologist's settling to live in an English rural village, and observing all she finds there.
  2. 00
    Commonplace by Christina Rossetti (KayCliff)

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» See also 101 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Not my favorite Pym -- too much little those TV shows "about nothing" for me -- but it had its moments. Really had my heart tugged by the death of Esther Clovis from an earlier book. ( )
  BooksCatsEtc | Sep 9, 2021 |
lots of characters. funny. the first one I read by Pym, I didn't like. glad I read a 2nd one. ( )
  mahallett | Jan 11, 2021 |
One of Pym's finest. She gently riffs on Austen's Emma, but gives the story its own open-ended twist. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Emma moves into her mother's cottage in a village to write up an anthropology paper, and ponders making a study of the village society. This had some memorable characters; Adam the food critic and Daphne always pining for Greece, but Emma was harder to like. Her vacillations where Graham was concerned were disturbing - why did she feel it was her place to equip his cottage and bring him casseroles? Tom was a typically ineffectual Pym 'hero'. ( )
  pgchuis | Nov 8, 2019 |
"In her wry and incisive last novel, Barbara Pym builds with accumulating effect the picture of life in a village forgotten by time yet affected dramatically by it. History -- represented by Druid ruins and an eighteenth-century manor (and the last aristocrats who occupied it in the 1920s) -- is juxtaposed against the banalities of life in the 1970s. We encounter a classic cast of Pym characters -- the local cat-lady, widows, rectors, retirees -- as well as a new generation composed of a young doctor, a restaurant reviewer, a bearded intellectual and his wife. There is a romance, and there is a death. A Few Green Leaves is Barbara Pym's final statement on life. It is a masterwork, the culmination of her writing."
~~back cover

Barbara Pym is evidently the Seinfeld of this genre: as far as I could tell, absolutely nothing happened. Except for the death, of course, but even it was a non-event, making hardly a ripple in the mundane life of the village and the people in her circle. Even the romance didn't happen; it's only going to happen ... maybe.

I love reading about life in an English village, but this book was a non-starter for me. The characters were the sort of people who could never quite figure out what they thought or how they felt about any given situation. ( )
  Aspenhugger | Jun 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Clearly something other than plot or even the interaction of character keeps Barbara Pym's novels going and the reader gratified. For nothing much happens, and the author remains a skeptical, almost aloof, observer studying relationships with a discrimination that her anthropologists might envy. But they are relationships that never develop. Closed in their own preoccupied solitudes, these people veer away from one another like charges in an electromagnetic field. This is both comic and sad, but the self-sufficient Emmas and Catherines demonstrate that being alone can be an exacting vocation, rather than a pathetic fate, one that calls for dignity, patience, intellectural curiosity, and a sense of humor.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Pymprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schuman, JackieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my sister Hilary
and for Robert Liddell
this story of an
imaginary village
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On the Sunday after Easter -- Low Sunday, Emma believed it was called -- the villagers were permitted to walk in the park and woods surrounding the manor.
Something was wrong with Emma's omelette this evening - the eggs not enough beaten, the tablespoon of water omitted, something not quite as it should be.
"I always love a walk in the woods," said Isobel. "We must remember that,", said Adam gallantly. "Do you see many foxes here?" Isobel asked. "Oh yes - and you can find their traces in the woods," said Daphne eagerly. "Did you know that a fox's dung is grey and pointed at both ends?" Nobody did know and there was a brief silence. It seemed difficult to follow such a stunning piece of information.
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'.an incisive and wry portrait of life in an Engish village in Oxfordshire.'

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