"There is something very disturbing about the spring in Oxford." Indeed there is, and it is enough to give all sorts of normally staid souls some very odd notions. More than one unsuitable attachment is formed and an assortment of busybodies and gossips do their best make the most of it all. The moral of the story is that one really mustn't make a drama of things—and one ought to be sure to have walnut cake on hand for tea.
This is the first Barbara Pym I've read. The forward by Hazel Holt explains how and why this manuscript, written in 1939,was laid aside and only published in 1985. As Holt says: "It is more purely funny than any of her later novels. So far, everyone who has read the manuscript has laughed out loud—even in the Bodleian Library."
I did not read this in the Bodleian (alas!), but I laughed out loud quite often—it's cutting satire and very amusing. I can't imagine living in the kind of claustrophobic, gossip-filled town she describes, but much as I would hate living in that time and place, I enjoyed my visit.
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