Some Tame Gazelle- by Barbara Pym - A Novel - 1950 - 252 Pages
Born - June 13, 1913 - Oswestry, England
Died - January 11, 1980 - Oxford, England
Barbara Pym is among the best chroniclers of a now lost, maybe lost when she was writing, world of curates, vicars and women whose lives are bound up the social world of post World War Two England, with rationing, the return of service men and endless meeting for tea. No one has children out of wedlock, of course. Many have small “private incomes”.
This is my second venture into the fiction of Barbara Plym. I began with her Excellent Women as it seems her consensus best work. (The Kindle edition was on sale for $2.95, another incentive.)
The second of her novels I have read is Some Tame Gazelle. It was completed in 1935 when Pym was 18 but not published until 1950, with minor revisions.
Even more than Excellent Women, Some Tame Gazelle, the title comes from an 18th century poem by Thomas Bailey, very much Is taken up with the relationship of the women characters to Church of England Clerics serving in their locale.
The plot line centers on two sisters, spinsters (is “spinster” now an offensive expression?) Belinda in her fifties and her younger sister Harriet. The have always lived together. Belinda since her university days has loved archdeacon Haccleve. He ended up marrying a well connected Bishop’s daughter. Harriet enjoys looking after young curates. She does have an admirer,an Italian count Ricardo Bianca whose marriage proposal she regularly declines. I found him a very interesting addition to the clerics.
Curates come and go, each unmarried one bringing drama. There is a curate newly returned from Africa, a head of a library and his student.
There are lots of quotes from 18th century and even earlier English poetry that has to be an impressive display of erudition from an 18 year old.
Foodies will enjoy the many references. Tea service seems the glue that holds the world of Some Tame Gazelle together.
I hope to continue my reading of Pym