Unlike the single, excellent women who have been the mainstay of the other Pym novels, the protagonist of A Glass of Blessings is a young, married woman. She and her husband, Rodney, have settled into a complacent but comfortable, childless marriage. They live with her mother-in-law, Sylvia, in Sylvia’s London home in the mid 1950’s. Between Rodney’s hours at the office, Sylvia’s assistance at home and the servants, Wilmet has little to do. She thinks she would like to do good works and she attends services at a nearby Anglican church regularly. But she hasn’t yet developed the kind of dedication or flair required for the selfless activity of organizing church bazaars or rummage sales.
Wilmet yearns for something more exciting from life. When she meets with her best friend Rowena, they reminisce about their time spent in Italy during the war when they were both WRENs and their now husbands were then dashing officers. Throughout the book, Wilmet entertains the idea of an affair (or maybe just some heavy flirting). She considers a relationship with Piers, the rather feckless brother of Rowena. Also, Rowena’s husband Harry would like to be more than just friends with Wilmet. And there is a darkly handsome new assistant priest at St. Luke’s…
A Glass of Blessings was a very low-key sort of romantic comedy; not much happens, yet subtly lots of things happen. Interestingly, it was narrated in the first person. I checked and of the six Pym novels I’ve read so far, only Excellent Women was also in first person. For what ever reason, I feel that worked better with Mildred in Excellent Women, maybe because Wimet is often fairly clueless and I often wished for some authorial confirmation that she was being obtuse.
Now that I know to look for them, I found many connections/references to other characters from Excellent Women, Less Then Angels and No Fond Return of Love as well as one to one I haven’t read yet (Jane and Prudence) which provided an added layer of enjoyment to the book. Some one needs to write a companion book listing all the characters and places and their crossovers for the entire Pym oeuvre similar to what Hilary Spurling did for Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time series.