Quartet in Autumn, by Barbara Pym is a quiet book about four office co-workers on the verge of retirement. They’re colleagues, but not friends. They have worked together for a number of years, but never really gotten to know each other or move beyond the niceties and conventions of the workplace. However, as you get to know them you realize that each one is very much alone, and that the somewhat skimpy relationship they share is the one real relationship in their lives. Could be really depressing to read about, but I found it fascinating, first because I’m so close to the same age, and my husband and I are actually starting to use the “R” word a little more often. And then because Pym has an amazing way of taking us inside each person’s life and showing us the little bits of hope and dignity of each life. We come to understand them as a rather dysfunctional group, but they ARE a group and their lives intertwine in an interesting, and ultimately positive, way. It’s been years since I read a Barbara Pym, and I had forgotten how very much I like her writing.