Jane and Prudence

Jane and Prudence

by Barbara Pym


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Barbara Pym affectionately skewers the charms, eccentricities, and secret yearnings of British middle-class life

Jane Cleveland and Prudence Bates were close friends at Oxford University, but now live very different lives. Forty-one-year-old Jane is married to a vicar, has a daughter she adores, and lives a very proper life in a very proper English parish. Prudence, a year shy of thirty, is self-sufficient and fiercely independent—until Jane decides her friend should be married. Jane has the perfect husband in mind for her former pupil: a widower named Fabian Driver.

But there are other women vying for Fabian’s attention. And Pru is nursing her own highly inappropriate desire for her older, married, and seemingly oblivious employer, Dr. Grampian. What follows is a witty, delightful, trenchant story of manners, morals, family, and female bonding that redefines the social novel for a new generation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480408067
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
Publication date: 03/05/2013
Pages: 212
Sales rank: 343,781
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Barbara Pym, who died on January 11, 1980, spent the last few years of her life in an Oxfordshire village, sharing a small cottage with her sister. In 1977, after sixteen years in the wilderness she published QUARTET IN AUTUMN. It was treated as a major literary event, as was her next novel, THE SWEET DOVE DIED.


·       Readers of twentieth-century literary fiction
·       Fans of English domestic dramas·       Jane Austen fans looking for more contemporary reads 

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Jane and Prudence 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charming British chic lit
oldblack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Womens fiction" the publisher proclaims. I'm not averse to this genre, but I really don't get much out of reading about the slightly foolish antics of the British upper-middle classes. I suppose we're meant to be amused by Pym's exposé of this bunch of rather silly people, but really, from a 21st century standpoint, the stupidity of their sub-culture is so self-evident I doubt that it's worth devoting 250 pages to the analysis. The back cover quotes include this one about Barbara Pym: " 'The Jane Austen de nos jours' A.L.Rowse"(Who the hell is A.L.Rowse?) I have never read any Austen . . . and now I think I'll be happy to go to the grave in that state.
lisalouhoo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book had many of the same characters and the same setting as Crampton Hodnet. The story and characters were just as witty and real, however, I found it didn't have so many of the great little asides and observations as Crampton Hodnet, and the ending left me a bit unsatisfied. I could so relate to one of the main characters, Jane. She is a clegymans wife who was a literary major in college, wrote a book about 17th century poetry, and had no idea how to deal with a household, cooking, cleaning, etc. She felt herself a failure in her position and of no support to her husband's calling. I think that Miss Pym may be showing one of the first generations of this problem that we still see today; women's focus being on education, and then finding themselves thrust back into the traditional womens role with no skills and no idea of what they are doing.
alana_leigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's something quietly lovely about a Barbara Pym novel. It's a perfect rainy day read, as you imagine yourself in England... if you have a large chintz armchair, all the better. And while I don't think you need to adore Jane Austen in order to enjoy Barbara Pym, it probably helps, though there's something a little darker and more melancholy in Pym.Jane and Prudence unsurprisingly deals with two Englishwomen named Jane and Prudence. (As a result, I was singing "Dear Prudence" over the three or four days where I was reading this.) Jane is a minister's wife who is a bit older than Prudence; the two met when Jane was her tutor at Oxford and their unlikely friendship stuck. Jane's husband has just taken over a country parish and Jane is more than usually aware of the fact that she's not a particularly good clergyman's wife. Nevertheless, they move into this parish with their eighteen-year-old daughter, Flora (who is about to head up to Oxford herself), and settle in to meet the locals and navigate the intricacies of a small country town. Prudence, meanwhile, lives in London; she's unmarried and while she is employed, she is not absorbed in academic work, which often leads the older women of their college back at Oxford to be at a loss for fitting Prudence into a particularly neat category, though Jane might say that she might not have her work, but "Prudence has her love affairs." And for the time, it does seem that Prudence has such a romantic nature as to be enjoying the attention of a man or fancying herself in love with another. Prudence's latest focus is her employer, a middle-aged man that does not seem particularly interested in her, beyond one day a while back when he used her Christian name and took her hand as they looked out a window. Jane (in a not-quite-focused way) tries to think of who might be suitable for Prudence in this new town.Aside from scenes set at Prudence's office (where her spinster coworkers pay close attention to what time the tea should be brought in, and mild chatter about the two men in the office), the majority of the book is set in the country parish, where you have the usual assemblage of busybodies and village VIPs. As with all Pym novels, you're presented with women in a rather narrow life, struggling to find their niche or at least muddle through without one. It's highly representative of the post-war feeling of confusion that women of the age must have experienced as they balanced the desire to have work of their own just as they're expected to marry and start families. The intriguing thing, of course, is that it might not be exactly the same today, but it's easy to relate to the unsettled feelings as one tries to find a place in the world that feels like it fits.It's easy to see why one might suggest Pym to those who enjoy Austen. Pym novels are, on the surface, easily summed up as novels about Englishwomen in the middle of the 20th century, often too smart for their surroundings, but without a means of focusing that intelligence as they become wives, mothers, or settle into their role as spinsters (for indeed, there is no real place for a single woman unless it is that of a spinster). If you're looking for a quiet, lovely novel with some subtle social commentary and quite good character insight, then I suggest you try reading a Pym novel. The rainy afternoon and a tray with tea and scones are not required, but they certainly help set the scene.
cappybear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautifully observed, and very funny. One minor quibble - I didn't care for the chick lit cover.
neverlistless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another delightful book from Pym. This one also featured Miss Jessie Morrow and Miss Doggett, as did my previous Pym, [Crampton Hodnet]. This one dealt with the proper English courting rules (love was definitely a major theme) and how people navigated them. It also, of course, had a delightful cast of characters, most prominent (to me) was Jane Cleveland. She was the bumbling, fumbling new curate's wife that could just never quite add up to her predecessor. Again - quite fun and enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone who likes cozy English novels and wants a good laugh - and of course, wants to make fun of English courtship.
Ganeshaka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this little dollop of Trollope last Saturday afternoon and went through it quicker than a bag of Tim's potato chips. Next thing I knew - I was licking the salt from my fingers - I heard "Live, from New York, it's Saturday night" in the other room. Talk about a seamless transition from light comedy to light comedy.This was my first Barbara Pym, and what a delight! A trans-Atlantic trip on a time machine to post war England and a small English village. There to follow the daily meanderings of Jane Cleveland, a daffy vicar's wife who doesn't quite fit the solemnity of her distaff role. A woman who is always a tad distracted in a "...hello, Lucy?" kind of way. Not a woman you would entrust with the high office of...preparing, without burning, dinner? We wonder "was she ever serious about her university day aspiration of authoring a book on 17th century poets?" Rather, her true passion seems to be to find a match for her youngish friend, Prudence. Prue, age 29, is a working girl/office assistant/researcher who lives a train ride away in London. She's a touch vain and lost in a limbo of a social life. As the story opens, she's vaguely pining for the attentions of her middle-aged and married mentor/employer. But only dreamily. And daydreaming of her college conquests, an honor roll of fading romeos. But only vaguely.Enter the recently widowed Fabian, the village Lothario. Curiously, Fabian has a benign reputation for he usually had the discretion to conduct his extra-marital affairs in London. And, sufficient grace, in local entanglements, to end an amour while at the same time finding his wife a new knitting partner.Pym's writing sparkles with the detail and dialogue that make those English so ummm.... English! It's a wry twist of girly book, and not just for the ladies. Though more than once, it's observed with a bit of eye-rolling that "A man must have his meat, you know!" And, that men are just interested in the mysterious "main thing". I say, gents and ladies, just relax, have an Ovaltine and some oyster patties, put your feet up, and let the skilled hand of Barbara Pym adjust your pillow. This is a better escape bargain than any you'll find on Orbitz.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Husbands took friends away, she thought, though Jane had retained her independence more than most of her married friends. And yet even she seemed to have missed something in life; her research, her studies of obscure seventeenth-century poets, had all come to nothing, and here she was, trying, though not very hard, to be an efficient clergyman's wife, and with only very moderate success. Compared with Jane's life, Prudence's seemed rich and full of promise ... She had her work, her independence, her life in London ... Lines of eligible and delightful men seemed to stretch before her ... (p. 83)Jane and Prudence first met at Oxford, where Jane was Prudence's tutor. The two have been friends for years. Prudence, 12 years younger, is unmarried and living in London. At 41, Jane is married to a vicar and has just left London to join her husband in his new country parish. Jane cannot resist attempts at matchmaking on Prudence's behalf, and so invites her to visit and meet a local bachelor. Much of this novel is a comedy of manners focused on the gossip and personalities that are typical of any church community. Barbara Pym's writing uses quite subtle wit to poke fun at everyday life. And while I enjoy her writing, this book was less interesting, the plot more predictable, than others I have read. Short, enjoyable, respectable ... but in the end, just kind of average.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago