My final book for The 1977 club hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblins was Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym. This is the fourth title of Pym’s that I have read. I didn’t quite love it as much as Excellent Women and Less than Angels, but I highly enjoyed it nonetheless and was really glad for the excuse to read another book by her.
Quartet in Autumn is about four work colleagues in their mid to early sixties in London in the mid 1970s. All four are solitary but not necessarily lonely. They are: Letty, who has plans to retire to the country with her widowed friend Marjorie; Marcia who lives alone in a rather neglected row house after the death of her mother and the cat Snowy many years earlier; Edwin, a widower whose chief hobby is attending Anglican services in various different London neighborhoods and Norman, a rather grumpy fellow who likes complaining to the local council about cars that have been parked too long on his street.
Of course I have quite a few more Pym titles to read, but in many ways this book was typical Pym with its sly humor and sharp if sometimes sad observations. Is "Pymsian" a term like Dickensian? These four co-workers only have the slimmest connection to each other, but because their lives and orbits are so narrow, when Marcia and Letty retire, this change affects them all in subtle ways none could have anticipated. There is a very bittersweet tinge to this novel and yet, without giving anything away, then ending is, if not hopeful, at least open-ended.