A Glass of Blessings Paperback
by Barbara Pym
Part of the Virago Modern Classics series
Wilmet Forsyth is well dressed, well looked after, suitably husbanded, good looking and fairly young - but very bored.
Her husband Rodney, a handsome army major, is slightly balder and fatter than he once was.
Wilmet would like to think she has changed rather less. Her interest wanders to the nearby Anglo-catholic church, where at last she can neglect her comfortable household in the more serious-minded company of three unmarried priests, and, of course, Piers Longridge, a man of an unfathomably different character altogether.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 03/12/2009
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781844085804
- EPUB from £5.99
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by CatyM
Pym's humour is a little more understated in this novel than in some of her books, but her characters are as beautifully drawn as ever. Wilmet Forsyth is a young wife given to reminiscing about her carefree days in Italy in the Wrens, when her husband was a glamorous young naval officer rather than a middle-aged civil servant. Wilmet is in many ways very naïve, being oblivious to several of the relationships among her family, friends and acquaintances. She's an endearing and interesting character, though, and so are many of Pym's other characters.
Review by Kasthu
A few years ago, when I first started reading Barbara Pym’s novels (with Excellent Women, which I think is a lot of people’s first Pym), I’d heard that her novels were a lot like Jane Austen’s. With a comparison like that, how could I pass that up? Barbara Pym’s novels are actually a lot funnier… but the humor is hidden.This is the story of Wilmet Forsyth, a thirty-something housewife leading a leisured life with her civil servant husband. She spends her life involved with church work and attending classes, but her life isn’t all that fulfilling or fulfilled. Wilmet herself isn’t a person to like much; she’s incredibly superficial and narcissistic, concerned more with fashion (how often in the novel does she turn aside and tell the reader exactly what she’s wearing?) than in actually helping others. But she’s incredibly self-aware, and I think she knows on a deeper level what her faults are. Wilmet develops a friendship with Piers Longridge, a Portuguese translator and teacher (and a classic Barbara Pym character), who she imagines is in love with her. Little does she know that Piers’s attentions are focused elsewhere…As I said, this book is incredibly funny, but the humor is hidden. The focus is on how people, especially within the constraints of Wilmet’s life, interact with each other on a small scale. You won’t see the major events of people’s lives described in Barbara Pym’s novels, but I think it’s the minutiae of people lives that are interesting; and that’s what make Barbara Pym’s books so good. There’s a crossover to Pym’s other books, too; Wilmet appears in No Fond Return of Love, and Prudence Bates of Jane and Prudence makes a cameo in A Glass of Blessings.
Review by lauralkeet
Wilmet Forsyth is a bored housewife in 1950s England. She and her husband Rodney have no children, and he takes her for granted, like part of the furniture. So Wilmet looks for stimulation elsewhere, and finds it, in a way, in the life of her church. Specifically, she takes a keen interest in the lives of three unmarried priests and their male housekeeper. She also joins her mother-in-law in taking Portuguese lessons from Piers Longridge, the attractive brother of her friend Rowena. This is yet another idle activity: Wilmet has no need to learn the language, but it fills up otherwise empty time. The only real excitement in her life comes when she finds herself the object of Piers' attention, and Rowena's husband Harry begins flirting with her. Rodney is oblivious, which gives Wilmet considerable freedom, but dampens her excitement as well.Readers experience the story through Wilmet's narration, which is rather unfortunate since she is insufferable. Pym makes this clear early on, when Wilmet says, "I was pleased at his compliment for I always take trouble with my clothes, and being tall and dark I usually manage to achieve some kind of distinction." <em>(p. 5) </em> Later, when a church member is seriously ill, she hopes to make herself useful: "I suppose I had imagined myself busy in a practical way -- cooking meals or running errands, even being what people call a tower of strength." <em>(p. 107)</em> Wilmet is completely serious, but this is typical Pym humor. Her characters are always well-drawn, their foibles obvious and amusing. I enjoyed her digs at Wilmet, and her portrayal of certain minor characters, such as the housekeeper Mr. Bason and Piers' flatmate, Keith.However, it was difficult for me to get over my dislike for WIlmet, and I didn't care much about resolving the conflict that stemmed from her idle flirtations. In the end, this was a respectable read but not my favorite Pym.