Barbara Pym: A Glass of Blessings


As I was reading A Glass of Blessings, by Barbara Pym, I found myself wondering how she did it…how did she write such a seemingly simple story of the daily happenings in a woman’s life, with no big dramas or traumas, and make it so compelling? The more I read of Pym’s work, the more I like her. She tells the truth–the inner truth–of her characters, and her stories are of people working through the everyday happenings and relationships of their lives. And the ‘action’ is very real…nothing huge or overdone, just humorous and often poignantly insightful. It’s all about friends, loved ones, neighbors, tea, and church activities…longings, duties, dreams and self-doubts, personal revelations and growth and change over time, Life happening.

A Glass of Blessings tells the story of Wilmet Forsyth, married long enough that the luster has gone out of the relationship, childless, sometimes lonely and a little bored with her life, although a caring, active member of her community. She’s a keen observer of others’ lives and has a very active imagination, which leads to some humorous misunderstandings, but she is a good and caring person who comes to appreciate her own quiet life a little more by the end of the story.

But Mary would be happy whether they had money or not. I turned over in my mind her description of life as being a glass of blessings, and that naturally led me to think about myself. I had as much as Mary had — there was no reason why my own life should not be a glass of blessings too. Perhaps it always had been without my realizing it.

I find Pym’s storytelling fascinating, and since this is already the 4th book I’ve read by her, and there aren’t that many, I’m savoring each one of them.


6 thoughts on “Barbara Pym: A Glass of Blessings

  1. LesNE

    This sounds like something I’d enjoy. Have you read Stewart O’Nan’s “Emily, Alone”? This sounds a bit like it, although Emily is a widow.


  2. Thomas at My Porch

    I am co-hosting Pym week beginning June 1st. Lots of Pym related fun and prizes. Recently I re-read three of her novels, including this one, and I find they are really wonderful to read a second time.


  3. Robin Post author

    Thomas, I’m looking forward to your Pym week! I am trying to read as many of her books as I can this year in her honor. She’s wonderful.



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