Monday, March 9, 2009

:::no fond return of love:::

i just finished my second barbara pym -- no fond return of love -- and i am so happy that i was not disappointed. i love the way pym captures the every day occurrences of life with witty insights and playful interactions between her characters. i think she is a fabulous author and i wish more people read her books.

so far as i can tell, pym tends to write about single women who are dealing with their spinsterhood in comical yet earnest ways. undoubtedly, anyone who likes high comedy and has the patience for an older book would enjoy her writing, regardless of whether or not they were married.

in short, the story centers around dulcie mainwaring, a single woman in her late twenties, i believe, who begins to stalk professor aylwin forbes after meeting him at a literary conference. yes, there is more to the story than that, but the plot grows from the main storyline of dulcie and her friend viola dace endeavoring to find out more about aylwin.

in case you can't see what it says, on the cover, it is a quote from the new york times thay says, "the novelist most touted by one's most literate friends." so...i guess that makes me your most literate friend. please, don't be stinting with you praise.

without any further ado, here are my favorite quotes from no fond return of love...

"dulcie always found a public library a little upsetting, for one saw so many odd people there, and it must be supposed that a certain proportion came in because they had nowhere else to go. others were less easy to classify and less worrying."
page 52

"'there are some people one could never cease to care for,' said viola, 'and I suppose aylwin is one of those.'

'obviously every man must be that to some woman,' said dulcie, 'even the most unworthy man...those are the people from whom one asks no return of love, if you see what i mean. just to be allowed to love them is enough.'"
page 75

"'you young women nowadays are so much cleverer than we were.'

'and yet,' said dulcie, feeling that she knew what was coming, 'you were probably happier than we are.'

'oh, I wouldn't say that. but life was simpler then. we made our own pleasures. Perhaps in some ways we were more serious -- felt our responsibilities more.'"
page 80

"and the way she had looked -- so fragile and appealing with her fluffy curls, almost a 'girl wife' -- had been such a refreshing change from the frightening elegance, frosty bohemianism, or uncompromising dowdiness, of those women who could really have entered into his work and would probably in the end have elbowed him out of it altogether.
page 81

"'the man in the queue after me asked for baked beans, and he got them. he was laughing and joking with the girl who was serving -- you know the way they do -- i didn't say anything, but i was quite upset.'

'yes, i know, that's what life is like. and it is humiliating. one feels a sense of one's own inadequacy, somehow, almost unworthiness,' said dulcie thoughtfully."
page 88

"the young woman seemed a more elegant version of herself, rather as dulcie might have looked if some woman's magazine had taken her in hand."
page 89

"it was sad, she thought, how women longed to be needed and useful and how seldom most of them really were."
page 103

"it seemed -- though she did not say this to viola -- so much safer and more comfortable to live in the lines of other people -- to observe their joys and sorrows with detachment as if one were watching a film or a play."
page 108

"dulcie herself was to travel home with laurel on Christmas Eve to spend the holiday with her sister charlotte and her family. It would be better than spending Christmas alone in london, she knew, yet she felt reluctant to uproot herself and be reduced in status to the spinster aunt, who had had an unfortunate love affair that had somehow 'gone wrong' and who, although she was still quite young, was now relegated to the shelf and good works."
page 109

"she went on to wonder why anybody married anybody. it only brought trouble to themselves and their relations."
page 141

"'but he's a celibate, of course.' here her tone took on a sterner, more vigorous note. 'and anyone can see that. it sticks out a mile.'

dulcie caught viola's eye and she wanted to laugh, though one could see what she meant. celibacy so often did stick out a mile, and not only among clergy."
page 149

this quote is in regards to her stalking of aylwin forbes -- "oh -- don't you know how it is! one goes on with one's research, avidly and without shame. then suddenly a curious feeling of delicacy comes over one. one sees one's subjects -- or perhaps victims is a better word -- as being somehow degraded by one's probings...'"
page 171

"some thin slices of meat were now served, and little dishes with just enough vegetables for two were placed on the table. remembering that it was friday -- and Good Friday, too -- dulcie glanced to see whether the clergyman was having fish. but he was not, and did not appear to object to what was put before him. dulcie was disappointed, having hoped for some spirited protest or whispered conference between him and the waitress. she supposed he must be rather Low Church."
page 177

"it so happened that the evening chosen was also laurel's last evening at dulcie's house, before she left to 'take residence', as it were, in the flatlet house in quince square. it had not been so difficult as had been feared, to persuade her parents to agree to the arrangement. charlotte, laure's mother, revealed an unexpected and presumably long suppressed desire to live a 'bachelor gir'ls' life in london; the idea of a bed-sitting room with a little cooker hidden away in a cupboard, a concealed washbasin and a divan bed piled with cushions was to her as romantice as an elopement to the south of france with a lover might have seemed to one of a different temperment."
page 115

"it was at this point that somebody came to the unoccupied table, but as she was a woman of about forty, ordinary-looking and unaccompanied, nobody took much notice of her. as it happened, she was a novelist; indeed, some of the occupants of the tables had read and enjoyed her books, but it would never habe occurred to them to connect her name, even had they ascertained it from the hotel register, with that of the author they admired."
page 176

"He would have preferred an emptier carriage, and had seen one with only a single lady in it, but just as he was about to enter it he had noticed that the lady was miss randall...she in her turn, and of course without his knowing, had avoided him at an earlier stage in the journey when she had seen him standing at the bookstall...thus, there may be mutual avoidance between men and women, the men not always realizing that they are not the only ones to be practising the avoidance."
page 208

"they're engaged, ducie thought, disliking herself for the slight sinking feeling she experienced. and it will be all jolly, and i shan't really know what to say."
page 223

ETA: aaah! these picture issues are driving me nuts. i will fix them when i get home tonight.

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MBC said...

I read this a few years ago and I liked it well enough, but I think my expectations were too high. I wanted to love it, especially since I'm always interested in spinsterhood, but I didn't quite.

rebekah said...

i liked excellent women better. the pace of the writing is definitely slower than that of a contemporary book, and in both books i felt a good portion of the middle could have been drastically downsized.

i don't know if i loved it either, but i did really, really like it. i think her books hit the spot instead of overwhelming you. a nice, comfortable, enjoyable read.

michelle said...

I've only read Excellent Women, but now I want to read this one as well. That's a lot of quotes! And how much do I love that photo of your post-its sticking out??