In my readings I’ve come across the name of Barbara Pym and have been wanting to read her work. A Glass of Blessings
is actually a good place to start. Pym’s novel is a social commentary that brings out various subtle ironies found in personal relationships between spouses and amongst friends and acquaintances. Pym doesn’t shy away from awkward situations. Instead, she focuses on them, closely examining small details—body language, thought and space—which actually provide more insight into a character’s make-up than from what they actually say.
Thus, A Glass of Blessings
is a story driven more by characterization than by plot—Pym’s characteristic style. For the modern day reader, the novel’s protagonist, Wilmet, at times can seem overwhelmingly naive and pedantic. For someone who has traveled abroad and did her bit during WWII, Wilmet is not necessarily world wise, which is quite surprising given her previous experiences. She is very close-minded about certain subjects, which in turn affects how she perceives or fails to perceive the people around her. What immediately seemed obvious to me as a reader at the beginning of the novel, takes Wilmet the entire course of the novel to finally begin to understand. Even then, I somehow don’t feel that she has really grasped a full understanding of what’s happening around her. Pym’s use of irony and how it’s pitted against Wilmet, is shockingly uncomfortable to read. Yet despite the biting sarcasm underlying Wilmet’s story, there is some recognizable truth in how she is portrayed. All in all, A Glass of Blessings
is a quite a good work.