Pymmania - No Fond Return of Love (Spinsters & Vicars eating cold Brussels sprouts in the middle of the night)

  1. A Jane Austen-like opening sentence. "There are various ways of mending a broken heart, but perhaps going to a learned conference is one of the more unusual."
  2. Two [dim English] spinsters, usually in their mid-thirties (gentle, introverted, shy, quiet, obscure/dark and unhappy, wearing read canvas shoes).
  3. London.
  4. Curiosity for the lives of others (sometimes extended to the point of silliness).
  5. Bittersweet humour.
  6. A Man, very good-looking, prone to drinking, user of yeast tablets, stomach powder, hair tonic, hoping to seduce pretty young girls with an animal as it would make a very good ice-breaker.
  7. Church of England (of the High Church variety) clergymen (vicars, cassocks, lay readers, organists).
  8. Jumble sales.
  9. Attention to mundane details (food & meals & clothes & furniture & flowers).
  10. People working as editors, proof-correctors or index-makers for small publishing companies or learned journals (performers of thankless, dreary tasks).
  11. A Brazilian neighbour speaking with a musical voice, a grey poodle, a young florist whose shop is  (not in the grandest part of) Kensington, a pretty niece doing a secretarial course.
  12. An obsession with hot drinks, particularly Ovaltine. 

 'But you do such a really worthwhile work in your own way,' said Viola fussily. 'It's so vitally important that the standard of true scholarship should be kept up, when you think of all there is to be contended with nowadays.'
'You mean television and the general lowering of standards everywhere?' said Maurice politely.
'Yes, that, among other things,' said Viola rather darkly. 'Aylwin's book on Edmund Lydden will be the definitive study.'
'Who is he?' asked Laurel, feeling that she was the only person young or old enough — in her case young to ask such a question. (page 131)


{Pym, Barbara, No Fond Return of Love, London, Virago Press, 2009 (First published Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1961) --- Les ingratitudes de l'amour, traduit de l'anglais par Anouk Neuhoff, 1988}

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