Keen readers tuned in for Chorleywood Bookshop’s recent Zoom interview with the author of a new biography of novelist Barbara Pym, whose depiction of village life and vicarage tea parties earned her the reputation as ‘a 20th-century Jane Austen.’
However, one woman had particular reason for enjoying the interview.
Chorleywood resident Kathy Walton once lived in the Oxfordshire village of Finstock, where Barbara Pym and her sister Hilary shared a cottage and, in whose churchyard, both women are now buried.
“I met Hilary, who was very pucker, at a harvest supper,” said Kathy.
“I was a freelance journalist and a fellow guest thought I would get on with her.
“Actually, all she wanted to know was whether I lived in Finstock or in the neighbouring hamlet of Ramsden, where the houses are prettier and more expensive.
“She said it was important to know because ‘one finds one friends in Ramsden and one’s servants in Finstock,” which sounds especially funny if you say it with a plummy voice.
“I didn’t know what to say, but her remark certainly put me in my place!”
Kathy said she previously found Pym’s novels ‘a bit tame’ but that her husband loves them.
“We are both looking forward to reading this latest biography, which reveals Barbara to be a bit of a goer and not at all the prim spinster everyone took her to be, so I must revisit her novels.”
‘The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym’ by Paula Byrne (£25) is available from Chorleywood Bookshop.
Picture credit ‘The Barbara Pym Society’