Excellent Women Review
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A friend whose taste in British novels I trust (we’re both Jane Austen fans, for instance) lent me this book and told me I’d love it.

I finished it the next day. She was right—I loved it. Part of its charm was that the main character was so familiar—having grown up as a pastor’s daughter, I could relate to this single thirty-something vicar’s daughter who spent much of her life interested in—and somehow pulled into—other people’s lives. Having come from a similar background, I could appreciate this character’s voice—the wry sense of humor that comes from such experiences. But I think the reason I really enjoyed this book is that I felt I could have related to Mildred even had I come from a completely
different background.

Mildred, who narrates, shares a variety of impressions and stories about her life. She’s depended on by her parish church in the matter of jumble sales, of course (being one of those “excellent women” who’s always dependable in matters like that). Of course she’s expected to marry the single vicar. And she meets (at the dust bin, of all places—just when she’d been meaning to extend a nice invitation to tea) the new married neighbors downstairs (with whom she has to share a bathroom). And somehow she gets pulled into the drama of their lives as well.

This portrait of a woman living a respectable but not at all dull life in 1950s London is wholesome but not by any means bland. It’s quite hilarious, actually, and charming.

The only frustrating part is that the ending, though it was a good place to stop, doesn’t answer all the reader’s questions. Thankfully, my friend who loaned me the book told me they were resolved in another of Pym’s novels and was kind enough to share. If you finish the book and are as intrigued as I was, email me and I’d be glad to pass on the information to you.

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