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Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey

Miss Pym Disposes (1946)

by Josephine Tey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1114211,366 (3.83)163
  1. 31
    Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers (janetteG, janetteG)
    janetteG: One of the great Dorothy Sayer's mysteries ranked with The Nine Tailors and Strong Poison. And it takes place in an Oxford women's college.
    janetteG: One of the great Dorothy Sayer's mysteries ranked with The Nine Tailors and Strong Poison. And it takes place in an Oxford women's college.
  2. 00
    The Black Echo by Michael Connelly (raizel)
    raizel: slight spoiler: both books have someone trying to do what is just and not succeeding
  3. 00
    Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie (raizel)
    raizel: The detective /solver of the case tries to help the cause of justice.
  4. 01
    Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (bmlg)
    bmlg: common setting of the community of young women facing academic and personal pressures, in addition to an engaging genre plot

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» See also 163 mentions

English (42)  Spanish (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
I picked this up off of my shelf needing something totally brainless to read. It is really hot here in D.C. (actual temps in the upper 90s and heat index in the 100s) and I've been working outside all week. This book was the perfect thing to read amongst all of that.

Some of Tey's books have annoyed me because they reflect the racist notions of a different generation, but this one basically avoids that by being set in an all-girls college. Miss Pym goes there to give a lecture on psychology and ends up enamored with the girls and life there. She stays for a week or two and is witness to some jealousies and crimes. I thought this was written with a lot of insight and subtlety for a mystery and I enjoyed it. I've read six of Tey's mysteries and this and Brat Farrar are my favorites. ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 7, 2019 |
Such a challenging book to rate. Although I am a devoted Agatha Christie acolyte, I think it is a shame her star has so thoroughly eclipsed the other great crime writers of her day (Sayers, Allingham, Heyer, Innes, etc) because we have become so thoroughly accustomed to one particular style of crime novel. Josephine Tey's work is something different altogether. It will disappoint some, but was refreshing to me for its focus on the psychology, ambience, and character of the place, with the crime playing out as these things often do - something that has happened to someone else; something that will not be the centre of these people's lives once the moment has passed.

There are some obvious flaws. Tey's language is occasionally outright racist by our standards, and even when Miss Pym is thinking things about, for instance, the Welsh, one gets the sense that this isn't just the character. On top of that, one realises that Christie's works haven't dated too much because most of her characters are standard, thoroughly English, thoroughly noble stereotypes. By delving into teenagers and individuals, Tey liberally spreads idioms, pop culture references, and quotes into her characters, to the point where some of the dialogue is completely unintelligible to someone born decades after the book was published. Not her fault, but it does make parts of the book a slog. And most vexingly, I feel that poor Rouse is disliked by everyone - including Miss Pym - simply for not being traditionally attractive and having a certain sparkle in her eye. There are some questions to be asked.

At the same time, I found Miss Pym fascinating, and I thoroughly enjoyed the often accurate analysis of this kind of retreat from the outside world, and of simple pleasures like toast and morning dew. Also, despite the issues with the use of current vernacular, it creates an interesting time capsule - the book is almost more intriguing as an historical document than as a novel. The twist at the end is delicious, and haunting, and I ultimately enjoyed the experience. I think it's important to take Tey's novels - like most "Golden Age" crime novels - for what they were; the movies or miniseries of their day. Not something you necessarily had to commit your life to, just something enjoyable to read on the train and lose yourself in another world. If you're expecting a grand literary adventure, you may be disappointed, especially as the book revolves around beliefs about the study of psychology - which the characters themselves acknowledge is almost unrecognisable generation from generation.

I could have done without some unfortunate remarks about people of colour, but otherwise I found this a satisfying read - it's just very unusual. Not a satisfying or detailed way to review a novel, true, but I'm keen to read another Tey and see how her style approaches other settings and situations before I make too many judgments. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
An enjoyable romp with Lucy Pym, a popular psychologist who visits her friend at a small college and stays longer than planned to involve herself in the goings-on there. ( )
  gbelik | Jun 11, 2018 |
Lucy Prim is invited to talk to students—all girls— at the Leys Physical Training College. A former French teacher, Miss Pym was delivered from the classroom when she received a modest legacy upon the deaths of her parents. Pursuing an interest in psychology, she researched and wrote a psychology book, which became a best-seller. It's through her book and her friendship with the college's head, Henrietta Hodge, that she gets the invitation.

She's put up in a spartan room in a dormitory, and she's introduced to the college's routine and students when an alarm bell rings at 5 a.m. She hears girls calling to one another, exchanging gossip and rumors, getting washed up and dressed for a new day. Then she actually meets several girls face to face. She's drawn in, and when the students urge her to stay for several days, she agrees. She gets to know more of the students and to know more about individuals. She mixes with the faculty. Increasingly impressed, Miss Pym finds herself willingly staying through finals and graduation.

At one point, Miss Pym has a chance encounter with the parents of a star student, sharing tea with them in a picturesque tea room. (Well, it's picturesque in my mind.) The girl doesn't know her parents are so close by but not contacting her; they don't want to distract her during finals. Miss Pym develops impressions of the parents, but also fleshes out her impression of the girl.

Interesting, to me, is that only three men play significant roles in this novel. One is the star-student's father, a country doctor of modest means who is greatly loved and respected by his daughter. Another is the janitor in the gym, who opens and closes the much-used facility and who keeps it clean and all its equipment in top shape. The third is a once famous, now fading stage actor, who serves to cast light on a particular faculty member, his cousin as it turns out, who routinely avoids and disparages him.

The vast majority of the story is used to introduce the characters, allowing them to reveal themselves, and be observed and (privately, in her own mind) assessed by Miss Pym. Conflict is introduced quite early in the story with the revelation that Miss Hodge has been asked by officials of Arlinghurst (only the best girls' school in England) if there is a Leys student suitable for a post at the school. Everyone—students and teachers alike—is astonished. Weirdly, to me, this highly selective school seems to have delegated all authority over filling their vacancy to Henrietta Hodge. ("Just send over your best girl, and she's got the job.") Naturally, students and faculty and Miss Pym alike really chew over this appointment. Who will it be?

The choice is revealed as the book is running out of pages. Naturally, Miss Hodge bungles the opportunity by naming the least felicitous candidate, then stonewalling dissent from faculty and, ultimately, the students. It does end, and it is left to the reader to decide if a crime has been committed, if justice is served for all parties, if all's well that ends well.

Both of my thumbs are up.
  weird_O | May 31, 2018 |
A weird book about a former teacher turned amateur-psychologist who solves a murder in a boarding-school but decides that the murderer should walk away. Weird, very weird but interesting. ( )
  Trifolia | Mar 15, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Josephine Teyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boyd, CaroleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A bell clanged. Brazen, insistent, maddening.
"If you knew that by saving a person from the top of a snow slide,you would start an avalanche that would destroy a village, would you do it? That sort of thing." "Of course I would do it." "You would?" "The avalanche might bury a village without killing a cat, so you would be one life to the good." "You would always do the right thing, and let the consequences take care of themselves?" "That's about it." "It is certainly the simplest. In fact I think it's too simple." "Unless you plan to play God, one has to take the simple way."
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Miss Lucy Pym, a popular English psychologist, is guest lecturer at a physical training college. The year's term is nearly over, and Miss Pym — inquisitive and observant — detects a furtiveness in the behavior of one student during a final exam. She prevents the girl from cheating by destroying her crib notes. But Miss Pym's cover-up of one crime precipitates another — a fatal "accident" that only her psychological theories can prove was really murder.


A former French teacher who has casually and flippantly written a popular psychology book begins to believe in her ability to understand the human psyche. At a girl's physical education college, which is described with fascinating details of programs of study, sport activities, and employment inquiries, Miss Pym undertakes the discovery of a murderer of an unpleasant student. The investigation gives Tey great opportunity to describe an improbable gathering of teen-aged physical education students — the independent and attractive Head Girl, "Beau" Nash; her pleasant, intelligent, competent friend, Mary Innes; and the fiery Latin American exchange student, far more sexually mature than her peers, who wants only to dance.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684847515, Paperback)

Miss Lucy Pym, a popular English psychologist, is guest lecturer at a physical training college. The year's term is nearly over, and Miss Pym -- inquisitive and observant -- detects a furtiveness in the behavior of one student during a final exam. She prevents the girl from cheating by destroying her crib notes. But Miss Pym's cover-up of one crime precipitates another -- a fatal "accident" that only her psychological theories can prove was really murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A solicitous guest lecturer at an English women's college uses her own psychological theories to solve a campus murder case.

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