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Publisher's Summary

The author of Excellent Women explores female friendship and the quiet yearnings of British middle-class life - a literary delight for fans of Jane Austen.

Jane Cleveland and Prudence Bates were close friends at Oxford University, but now live very different lives. Forty-one-year-old Jane lives in the country, 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 30, lives in London, has an office job, and 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.

©1981 The Estate of Barbara Pym (P)2020 Tantor

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • TX lilbit
  • 27-07-20

Ruined by narrator

I was so looking forward to this - I love Barbara Pym's gentle self-deprecating humor and her favorite foggy academics, self-involved young people, vain widowers, bluff but kindly clergymen. The narrator was so disappointing! I'm baffled by the positive reviews. She made everyone sound exactly alike, regardless of education, background or gender, using the same mincing, affected manner, and she completely ironed out the subtle humor. I couldn't finish it. Very sorry to see that all the newly released Barbara Pym novels use the same narrator, aaauugh! Please redo these with a narrator like Jilly Bond or Penelope Freeman.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Scooterista
  • 15-09-20

Strange accent

Miss Pym’s books are a joy! I was excited to listen to them on Audible. But ... Mary Sarah has the strangest English dialect. One I have never encountered. (I am English and attended drama school where we studied the regional dialects.) miss Sarah inserts a rhotic R after virtually every a. Such as thart for that, sard for sad, perharps for perhaps. It is very distracting. She also mispronounces common English place names such as Derbyshire in which the er is pronounced ar. I bought and stuck with all the available titles, but will not listen to any more titles recorded by this performer.

4 people found this helpful

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  • lego et scribo
  • 02-03-21

Lovely story, lackluster narrator

Like many reviewers, I was thrilled to see more Barbara Pym titles available on Audible. And I was also crestfallen when I listened to the narrator. Who in the world pronounces "relax" as "relocks"? Her accent was utterly unconvincing, the sort that Americans do when they're trying to sound posh, and her delivery was fey and monotonous. I'm partially blind, so my options are limited - I can't just find a paperback somewhere and read that if I don't like the narrator. Now, I must choose between listening to a narrator make a sad hash of truly delightful books or limit myself to "Excellent Woman," which has a fine narrator. Barbara Pym deserves better.

If you can handle the lamentable narration, I do recommend the book - it is funny and bittersweet, just what I'd hoped for.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Holly
  • 09-07-20

Nuanced and superb insight...lovely English lit

I am a Pym devotee and re-read all of her novels once a year--indeed, it is hard for me to keep it to only once a year. This is how wonderful they are: I like them more with each reading. So many nuances to pick up on and chuckle or commiserate over with the characters. I am so very fond of Jane among the Pym characters toward whom I feel most affectionate, only surpassed by Belinda in Some Tame Gazelle, and Dulcie in No Fond Return of Love.

This is very nicely narrated, though Jane Doggett should have had a gruffer voice. I am bit spoiled by the old UK recording, though, by Sterling Audio (Eileen Aitkins).

1 person found this helpful

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  • agatha christie
  • 15-03-21

Delicious

I am a B.Pym firm fan.Perhaps the narration would be enjoyed by someone who has read the book first,really a delight!The Male voices were a bit unbelievable, but not enough to change the charm of the story.

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  • Liz D.
  • 15-08-20

Poor narration

Clearly an American doing English accents. Could not stand it and bailed very quickly as it affected performance.

2 people found this helpful