An Academic Question

An Academic Question

by Barbara Pym
     
 

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Caro is the wife of Dr. Alan Grimstone, a lecturer at a provincial university in a West Country town in England. She knows her circle believes that she should be doing more with her life. She is the mother of a young daughter but relieved to be able to leave the girl in the care of an au pair. Her one selfless act--reading aloud to a former missionary at a rest…  See more details below

Overview

Caro is the wife of Dr. Alan Grimstone, a lecturer at a provincial university in a West Country town in England. She knows her circle believes that she should be doing more with her life. She is the mother of a young daughter but relieved to be able to leave the girl in the care of an au pair. Her one selfless act--reading aloud to a former missionary at a rest home--is sullied when she allows her husband to 'borrow' some of the old gentleman's papers in order to get the better of a colleague. Caro's sister is a social worker disinclined towards marriage and children, but is she happy? Despite appearances, Caro is content enough. Until she learns that that her husband Alan has a wandering eye. What is happiness? The knowledge that one is loved? Academic renown? Or is it friendship with eccentric friends and the sight of the first crocuses of spring or the Virginia creeper in autumn? Barbara Pym completed the first draft of her satirical "Academic Novel" in 1970, ten years before her death. It was first published posthumously in 1986, thanks to her friend and biographer Hazel Holt.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Pym's reputation will not be enhanced by the publication of this edited first draft of a novel from her ``silent years.'' Set in a provincial university, the story is narrated by Caro Grimstone, the dissatisfied wife of Alan, a rising anthropologist. Caro unwittingly becomes the means by which Alan dishonestly obtains a manuscript that will both advance his reputation and refute the findings of a respected, elderly colleague. Around this academic misdemeanor, the Grimstones and a cast of unrealized academic eccentrics revolve until the whole is resolved in a literal burst of fireworks. Absent is Pym's genius for creating characters whose concerns, no matter how trivial, engage the reader. Her fans, however, will probably demand the book. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781603811781
Publisher:
Coffeetown Enterprises, Inc.
Publication date:
05/15/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
170
Sales rank:
544,299
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.39(d)

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Meet the Author

Barbara Pym (1913-1980) was born in Oswestry, Shropshire. She was educated at Huyton College, Liverpool, and St Hilda’s College, Oxford, where she gained an Honours Degree in English Language and Literature. During the war she served in the WRNS in Britain and Naples. From 1958-1974 she worked as an editorial secretary at the International African Institute. Her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle, was published in 1950, and was followed by Excellent Women (1952), Jane and Prudence (1953), Less than Angels (1955), A Glass of Blessings (1958) and No Fond Return of Love (1961). During the sixties and early seventies her writing suffered a partial eclipse and, discouraged, she concentrated on her work for the International African Institute, from which she retired in 1974 to live in Oxfordshire. A renaissance in her fortunes came in 1977, when both Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil chose her as one of the most underrated novelists of the century. With astonishing speed, she emerged, after sixteen years of obscurity, to almost instant fame and recognition. Quartet in Autumn was published in 1977 and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Sweet Dove Died followed in 1978, and A Few Green Leaves was published posthumously. Barbara Pym died in January, 1980. For more information, please go to: hazelholt.coffeetownpress.com.

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